Belgian Chocolate History: Culture and Heritage

Belgian Chocolate culture and history

Belgian Chocolate is truly something special — the combination of history, culture, technique and taste. It is often called the best chocolate in the world, and for good reason. Belgian Chocolate has a rich history, requires a very specific process and uses very particular ingredients in order to create the decadent treat that it is.

So, what’s the story behind Belgian Chocolate?

To understand the secret of Belgian Chocolate, let’s go back to the beginning. The story begins at a dark time in the world’s history, when colonialism was reshaping the way the of world. As powerful countries colonized other countries, they began to appropriate things like food and other cultural components.

In the 1880s, Belgians started bringing cocoa back from the Congo. Suddenly having access to cocoa beans allowed the country to start experimenting with new procedures that have created chocolate as we know it today.

Belgian chocolatiers were soon creating machinery designed to break down the beans and mix them to create a smooth, thin texture, all while refining recipes, many of which are still used today. Eventually these techniques spread throughout the world, influencing other great chocolate nations such as Switzerland.

As chocolatiers became more knowledgable and adventurous, they came up with new custom chocolate inventions and creations. In 1912, a man named Jean Neuhaus, came up with the idea of a solid chocolate shell that could be filled up with a variety of delicious and complimentary ingredients. Today, we call these “pralines”.

Pralines opened up a new world of chocolate tastes and was a complete game changer. Endless possibilities could fill the shells: fruit, nuts, flavored creams and nougat, or of course other types or flavors of chocolate, to name just a few.

Originally, chocolate was only reserved for the wealthy and the aristocratic because the ingredients were expensive and difficult to acquire. However, sugar eventually became more accessible as the world became more interconnected and the taste and demand for sweets spread.

Today, Belgian Chocolate is deeply connected to the history and identity of the small but proud country. And true Belgian Chocolate remains delicious because of the integrity of the ingredients and the commitment to the process.

True Belgian Chocolate is still made in small, local chocolate shops, using high quality ingredients, with custom recipes that haven’t changed much for more than a century. Often the recipes are passed down through families or carefully chosen apprentices, keeping the exact process and techniques reserved for those committed to the Chocolate craft.

And since Belgium is a hub for international travel and business, Belgian Chocolate easily finds its way throughout the rest of the world. In fact, shops in Brussels International Airport are said to sell the most chocolate in the world. There are more than 220,000 tonnes of chocolate produced in the small country, before it is distributed around the globe.

When people say Belgian Chocolate is the best, it’s hard to argue. These days, not everything is made with the care and quality that goes into creating it. We encourage people to treat themselves to high quality Belgian Chocolate so they can fall in love with it. Just be careful, because you might find regular chocolate will never taste the same again!