Monday, July 25, 2011

Searching for Willy Wonka

On a recent road trip with seven teenage Girl Scouts, I was surprised at how excited they were to make a pit stop at the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, California.  The girls toured the factory, enjoyed seeing how the jelly beans were made, and especially loved the free samples.

Chocolate display at the Jelly Belly Factory.

Wouldn’t it be great to schedule a Swiss chocolate-making tour for these girls when we’re in Zurich this December?  Unfortunately, I’m having trouble finding one that will work for us, though.  The corporate headquarters of luxury Swiss confectioner Lindt is located just outside Zurich in Kilchberg, but they stopped doing their very popular tours of the factory some years ago.  Darn.

Recently in my research I stumbled upon the most marvelous website called My Kugelhopf.  (You’ll have to visit the site to find out what Kugelhopf means!)  Kerrin Rousset, the passionate and energetic author of this tasty website, is an American who now lives in Zurich and – would you believe this? – gives personal walking tours of the chocolate and confection shops, bakeries, and other sweet spots around the old town of Zurich, offering tastes and treats while telling of the history and trends in chocolate in the city.  How perfect is that?!  But, alas, our timing is off.  We’ll be there the week after Christmas, and she’ll be away for the holidays.  Sigh.

Moving on after these disappointments, I found some vague information about the Chocolats Halba factory in Wallisellen, about 10 minutes from the Zurich airport.  Their website doesn’t mention factory tours, only visits to their House of Chocolate shop.  (Note:  I received an email from Halba after this post was written that they are no longer offering tours.)

Schoggi Land sounds good.  At their factory in Flawil, Switzerland, they produce chocolate and confectionery specialties of the brands maestrani, MINOR, and Munz and offer guided tours in English every Wednesday . . . except the Wednesday after Christmas, which is when we’ll be there.

A highly recommended tour – it’s actually called a chocolate show - is in Interlaken at the Schuh Swiss Chocolatier.  Wednesday through Sunday they host a chocolate making demonstation and offer sample bowls of white, milk, dark, and extra dark chocolate drops.  Yum.  The admission fee is 14.80 CHF but that includes a 10 CHF chocolate voucher to be used in their gift shop.  I like that idea!  Interlaken is one and a half hours from where we’ll be staying in Adelboden, though.

A town with a bit more sightseeing potential than Interlaken is Gruyères (at least for me, since I’ve seen Interlaken but not Gruyères).  Gruyères is a charming little carless medieval village known for it’s cheese-making, its castle (Château de Gruyères), and its mountains.  Just two kilometers north of town is the Cailler chocolate factory in Broc.  Cailler offers chocolate tours every day and children under 16 are free!  There are also working cheese dairies and cheesemakers around town that offer demonstrations (with samples!) too.  It would be about a 2 hour train ride from Adelboden, but I think this village offers a little of everything.  Gruyères just might be the place for us in December!

Related links:
Swiss Chocolat Frey Factory Tour
Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory Tour


  1. I was so excited to see this post because we will be in Munich and Tyrol (for alpine hiking) and were thinking of maybe doing an overnight in Zurich. I have been looking for an unusual activity and had also tried to find a chocolate factory tour kind of thing. I think we will definitely look into kuggelhopf. This is right up my daughter's alley. Oh yeah, my alley too. I think I am kind of in the mood for a spoon full of nutella right now....

  2. Just the name made me read this post. My wife thinks something is wrong with me but I love the old version of this movie. The chocolate show seems like a great tour to take.

  3. hi sonja, thank you so much for the *sweet* shout out here ! this post is chock full of good ideas. sorry about the disappointments for your group during christmas time though, i would have loved to meet you all here. but sounds like you have a wonderful plan in place now - gruyère is one of my favorite places in switzerland. i've written about it here if you'd like to see:

    a delicious region for sure. and the cailler factory is tons of fun ! an excellent learning experience too for the girls. i'm already looking forward to reading about it here on your blog !

    ps - a visit to the jelly belly factory sounds so fun too ! =)


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