7 of the best German chocolate brands to savour
Chocolate is simply one of those delicacies that can be enjoyed by almost anyone at any given time, and each country has its own unique twist on the sweet. These are some of the most well-known and enjoyed German chocolate brands and chocolates in Germany.
German chocolate: A brief history
The history of chocolate stretches back a long way, dating back to ancient Mesoamerica, now present-day Mexico, almost 4.000 years ago. The Olmec were one of the oldest civilisations in Latin America, and they are thought to be the first to have turned the cacao plant into a kind of chocolate drink, which they used for medicine and during religious rituals.
Later, the Mayan and Aztec civilisations are known to have revered the cacao plant, not only using its beans as a form of currency, but also flavouring them with vanilla and other spices to make a kind of frothy drink consumed by nobles.
Chocolate's arrival in Europe and Germany
Europeans were first introduced to chocolate following the Spanish colonisation of South America. As the Spanish colonies grew and Spaniards mixed with indigenous communities, they took a liking to the local cocoa drink - although they made some changes to make it their own. This included mixing it with other spices like black pepper and then, eventually, adding sugar. It was this change that would secure the drink's popularity among sweet-toothed Europeans.
Chocolate made its way back to Europe via the Spanish royal court, and by the 17th century was considered a fashionable drink across the continent. Chocolate first reached Germany in the 17th century, where it was originally sold as a medicine and restorative in pharmacies. The first time drinking chocolate was offered for purely pleasurable purposes in Germany was in 1673, when a Dutch man named Jan Jantz von Huesden opened a shop offering coffee and chocolate in Bremen.
Initially, since it was a luxury product from the "New World", chocolate was very expensive and so only available to the rich elites. It remained expensive in Germany throughout the 18th century after authorities decided to place high taxes on it, to discourage it from being imported. Nonetheless, famous figures like Goethe, Schiller and King Frederick II of Prussia were all said to be fans of the dark, velvety drink.
In the early 19th century, taxes on cocoa were lowered or abolished in most German states and the product became more accessible as more and more shops opened up to serve cups of cocoa.
The first chocolate bars
In 1828, a Dutch chemist discovered a way to make powdered chocolate by removing some of its fat content. His product - which became known as "Dutch cocoa" - paved the way for the creation of the first chocolate bar in Europe, which soon followed in 1847, after Joseph Fry discovered he could make a mouldable chocolate paste by blending Dutch cocoa with melted cacao butter.
As the world went mad for chocolate - famous brands like Cadbury and Nestlé emerged around this time - factories were established in Germany. Dresden in Saxony became the main centre of chocolate production in Germany. By 1880 almost 550 tons of chocolate were being produced each year in this one German city. By 1881, per capita consumption of chocolate in Germany had risen to 60 grams per year - and it's risen almost without stopping every year since.
Chocolate in German
Have you ever wondered what is the German translation of chocolate? No need for a German course, it’s Schokolade!
Find out how to pronounce it in the video below:
Best chocolate in Germany
Chocolate may not have originated in Germany, but it has steadily gained immense popularity, making it one of the most consumed and exported products in the federal republic. Germany is the world's fourth-largest importer of cocoa beans, and the second-largest in Europe, right after the Netherlands.
The country sends out around 680.000 tons of chocolate annually, accounting for 28% of EU exports. With chocolate exports totalling 5,6 billion US dollars in 2022, Germany is the leading chocolate exporting country in the world.
Chocolate is greatly enjoyed in Germany as well, with each person consuming roughly 9 kilograms of the sweet stuff per year. Sales tend to spike over the Christmas and Easter holidays. The most consumed brands are Ritter Sport, Milka, Moser Roth, and Niederegger.
German chocolate brands you should know
Curious to dive into some German chocolate? Here are some of the most important German chocolate brands to try:
1. Ritter Sport
Ritter Sport is one of the most popular brands of chocolate in Germany, having offered the same iconic square packages of chocolate since 1912, when it was founded by Clara and Alfred Eugen Ritter near Stuttgart. Clara is said to have wanted to create a chocolate bar that would fit into the pocket of a sports jacket without breaking. From classics like milk chocolate and nougat to more inventive creations like rum and raisin and even a vegan chocolate range, Ritter Sport is perhaps Germany's most iconic chocolate brand.
2. Moser Roth
Moser Roth is one of the oldest German chocolate brands, having been established in 1841 in Stuttgart. It was once one of the largest chocolate factories in Germany before burning down during World War II. Since the war, the company has passed through several owners' hands until 1967 when it was sold to Storck. It is now Aldi’s premium brand of chocolate.
Although Merci is the French word for “Thank You”, the brand is actually manufactured by the German company August Storck. According to its creators, the French name is supposed to convey the warm, fuzzy feeling one gets when hearing someone say “Thank You”. Merci chocolates are known for their bright red packaging, making them a popular choice as gifts for children or loved ones on special occasions.
Hachez is a prestigious chocolate manufacturing company based in northern Germany. It was founded in 1890 by Joseph Emile Hachez and Gustav Linde. Hachez is said to have become inspired to create the chocolate after seeing the bright, warm colours of autumn leaves while out walking one day. The chocolate is still manufactured in its original location of Bremen, with everything from cleaning the cocoa beans to packaging them done on one site.
Founded in 1806 by Johann Georg Niederegger, Niederegger is a producer of marzipan, sweets, and chocolates based in Lübeck in Schleswig-Holstein. Niederegger marzipan is famous for having a higher almond content and lower sugar content than other types of marzipan, and was back in the day famed for having such high quality that it was the marzipan of choice for kings and emperors. Nowadays, Niederegger is sold all over the world, but most famously from a small, busy shop in the town centre of Lübeck.
One of the newer names in the German chocolate market, having been around since 1962, Schogetten bars are notable for being already broken up into bite-sized segments. They come in a variety of flavours, including milk chocolate, strawberry and yoghurt, hazelnut and praline. Schogetten is manufactured by a major chocolate company now known as Ludwig Schokolade, which has a history stretching back to 1857.
Milka is one of the most renowned chocolate brands in Germany and internationally. The eye-catching lilac packaging is easy to spot on any supermarket shelf. Milka was originally founded in Switzerland, but the company is now US-owned, and the chocolate bars have been manufactured in Germany since 1901. The name Milka comes from the chocolate's most important ingredients: "Milch" (milk - Milka products are made with alpine milk) and "Kakao" (cocoa). To emphasise the chocolate's alpine origins, since 1972 a cow nicknamed Lila has been the face of Milka's advertising campaigns.
What about Kinder?
Kinder is a world-famous chocolate brand, and given the name (Kinder means "children” in German) many people understandably believe that Kinder is a German chocolate brand. However, Kinder is actually produced by the Italian company Ferrero - although that doesn't stop these chocolate bars from being very popular in Germany!
German chocolates: Sweet stuff indeed!
Germany went from utilising chocolates for pharmaceuticals to becoming the largest exporter of chocolate in the world. With so many fun brands and flavours, there’s a German chocolate for everyone.