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July 26th 2020
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Week 13- Gala Peter Chocolate
M for Milk
Daniel Peter started in the candle business with his brother, but he was more interested in the manufacturing of food.
At the time, there was a lot of prospects for food processed in tins or bottles, it was becoming widely available and it offered a solution to the growing demand.
In 1866, Peter married Fanny Caillet whose father’s chocolate factory was the first in Switzerland to mechanise the process of grinding cocoa beans. It inspired him to learn more about cocoa as he was convinced that chocolate had an exciting future and would become part of people’s diet, just like coffee.
A family crisis led Peter to his breakthrough; his first baby, Rose, rejected her mother’s milk so he asked his neighbour for help.It was Henri Nestlé who invented a special type of baby food by evaporating milk and transforming it into powder, which is what saved baby Rose's life when infant mortality was very high at that time (about 1 in 5).
Peter started to see an opportunity to combine chocolate products with Nestlé's technology using the evaporated milk powder. He first created a milk chocolate drink powder, mixing cocoa powder with milk powder and sugar. He kept experimenting and used another new invention, condensed milk, which led him to create the first ready milk chocolate drink in 1875.
It was around 1880 that he decided to compete with the English brands and bring his milk chocolate drink to Britain, but it wasn’t an easy product to export as the milk was becoming sour. He kept experimenting and making bars with milk but he wasn’t successful either, the milk was going rancid.
In 1886, 10 years after his milk chocolate drink, he mastered the production of a soft and creamy milk chocolate bar which was named Gala Peter and received immediate acclaim.
Only then did he receive the support of bankers and businessmen who invested in his invention. As orders rushed in from across Europe he opened a second factory to double the production capacity.
British grocers started to sell quantities of his Swiss chocolate bars the same way they sold Van Houten's cocoa powder before. His sales reached 6 million Swiss francs by 1900;
He partnered with Nestlé who already had 18 factories worldwide, so they could deliver milk chocolate bars to Europe, America, Australia and Asia. The Americans and the British had only discovered the recipe for the milk chocolate bar while the Swiss bars were already being sampled throughout the world.
In 1899, Rowntrees introduced its first milk chocolate block, in 1902 Fry’s launched the “five boys milk chocolate “, and Cadbury's “Dairy milk” in 1905.
We thank you for your participation,
Programme in partnership with Melange Chocolate
"The True history of Chocolate" Thames & Hudson
"Encyclopedie du chocolate et de la confiserie" AFCC
"Collecting the World: The Life and Curiosity of Hans Sloane" by James Delbourgo
"Chocolate Wars" by Deborah Cadbury
"The Secret Life of Chocolate" by Marcos Patchett
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