The world-famous Toblerone has been around since 1908. But is that really true? Let's go on a historical research for traces of what is probably the most famous triangle in the world, which to this day delights us globally with its unmistakable shape and taste and stands for Swiss chocolate and even Switzerland like hardly any other product.
It was probably August 1908 when Theodor Tobler and his cousin Emil Baumann mixed up the basic recipe for the Toblerone in the kitchen of the recently completed Chocolat Tobler factory in Berne Länggasse.
At that time, the Chocolat Tobler company was anything but an unknown start-up. There were already about 30 other Tobler chocolates and several hundred employees. In 1900, the then 24-year-old Theodor Tobler took over the company with 50 employees from his father Jean - by the way, the first seller of Lindt chocolate, but that's another story - and just two years later he employed 120, in 1912 600 and in 1914 already 1000 employees. In 1920 there were over 2100 workers and Tobler chocolates were sold in 120 countries around the world. Chocolat Tobler was thus the fastest growing company in all of Bern - and probably far beyond.
What part did the Toblerone play in this gigantic success? Believe it or not: hardly any!
In 1908, the year the Toblerone was invented, the company had a share capital of around CHF 320 million today.
The basic recipe was in place and it was patented in 1909 at the Bern patent office - by the way, a certain Mr. Albert Einstein was working a few rooms next door at exactly that time...chocolate was of course not his specialty and so one can`t unfortunately telling the anecdote that Einstein patented the Toblerone...
The shape of the Toblerone was already clear in 1908 - pictures of the shape of the Chocolat Tobler from that year confirm this.
But why was the Toblerone only mentioned on page 19 of the official 1909 price list? Why wasn't it advertised at all? By a company that invested so aggressively in advertising that it was banned by the Swiss Federal Council and paved half the world like hardly any other company?
We remember - Tobler had enough money and employees and as early as 1907 70% of the products went abroad.
It was not until 1912 that the first known Toblerone advertisement appeared. And the Toblerone was announced as a novelty - Imagine! This was 4 years after its first launch!
It wasn't until 1920 that the Toblerone developed into a bestseller - thanks to the Matterhorn? No - a lasting relationship with the Matterhorn started in 1970 - after the merger with Suchard and its Milka under the name Suchard Tobler under the management of Interfood.
So what happened in the years 1908-1912 and why was the Toblerone only really gaining momentum 12 years after its debut? We're still trying to find out - the history of the Toblerone, Theodor Tobler and the Chocolat Tobler are enormously fascinating and belong in a permanent Toblerone or better all Swiss Chocolate World Museum!
A little more history? It's here in the capital of chocolate