9 of the best places in the world to eat chocolate
9 of the best places in the world to eat chocolate
Did you know that we Brits are the fourth biggest chocolate consumers in the world? So to satisfy our cravings, we decided to embark on a mission to find out where to eat the best chocolate in the world to help you plan your holidays around the sweet stuff.
A survey carried out by Mintel revealed one in six UK residents – that’s around 8 million of us – eat chocolate every day, with only 5% of people claiming they never eat it.
Overall, we munch our way through 16.8lbs of chocolate per person every year, with only Switzerland, Germany and Ireland getting through more chocolate than us.
So if we want to plan a chocolate based holiday around our favourite sweet treat (as these numbers suggest we might), where should we start?
Read on to find out the history of chocolate all over the world, and where are the best countries to eat chocolate.
1. Zurich, Switzerland
It’s no wonder the Swiss get through so much chocolate – who can blame them when they are said to produce the best tasting chocolate in the world?
In fact, the Swiss eat more chocolate than any other nation – a massive 19.4lbs per person, every year - and Switzerland is also the third largest producer of chocolate. So, if you’re looking for a chocolate-centric holiday destination, then make Switzerland the top of your list for a sweet getaway this year.
Switzerland was the birthplace of milk chocolate, after the Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter added a sprinkle of powdered milk into solid dark chocolate back in 1875.
Four years later, another Swiss chocolatier, Rodolphe Lindt (recognise the name?), invented the famous “conche” mixer which is still used today to rustle up chocolate all over the world.
According to National Geographic, the best chocolatier in the world is Teuscher, a Zurich-based company which has been whipping up delicious chocolate for more than 70 years, starting out in a small Alpine town. There, they make more than 100 types of chocolate using the very best ingredients and no additives – so which will you go for?
2. Mexico City, Mexico
It’s widely believed that chocolate originates from Mexico, where the ancient Mayans grew cacao plants 4,000 years ago and hailed its medicinal benefits. However, back then it was mostly drunk rather than eaten, with roasted and ground cacao pods forming a paste which was paired with spices, honey and corn to create a drink.
Later, the Aztecs kept up the tradition, heating up their chocolate to drink it warm – and giving it the name we know it by today. The word chocolate derives from the Spanish chocolātl, xocolatl or xocoátl, which were Aztec variations on the word.
Nowadays, chocolate is still prevalent in the Mexican diet, most notably as an ingredient in “mole”, the national dish of Mexico._
If you’re a chocoholic visiting Mexico City in search of the best chocolate in Mexico, head to Central Cacao, where you can taste the best cocoa-based delights the country has to offer, all under one roof._
And if you fancy exploring the country’s chocolate tradition even further, take a trip to the state of Tabasco, as it’s famous for more than just its hot sauce. Here, you can actually take part in a cacao trail, which will transport you through the origins of chocolate right up to the modern day._
3. Madrid, Spain
Spain was the first country in Europe to import chocolate back in 1585, and the first to add sugar to the bitter drink first introduced to them by the Mayans – a recipe they kept secret for almost a hundred years!_
Today, the Spanish still love their chocolate, but enjoy it in far more moderation than other European countries – a modest 7.5lbs per person per year._
Nevertheless, Spaniards get their chocolate fix in a number of ways throughout the day. The day often begins with a cup of hot or cold chocolate drink for breakfast, while chocolate spread sandwiches can regularly be found in Spanish lunch boxes._
For an afternoon pick-me-up, Spaniards love to munch on churros dipped in chocolate sauce, while rich, dark chocolate with nuts is nibbled on across the country as a snack._
If you’re visiting Madrid to sample the best chocolate Spain has to offer, make sure you pay a visit to Chocolatería San Gines for churros and chocolate sauce – it’s open 24 hours, so you can pop in night or day to get your daily fix!
4. Brussels, Belgium
Belgium’s chocolate industry has been going strong since the 19th century, and the country is up there with Switzerland when it comes to the world’s best countries for producing chocolate. And for such a small country, that’s a pretty impressive achievement!
Despite not growing cacao beans on Belgian soil, Belgium has been linked to chocolate since 1635, as it was then occupied by Spain, which had also colonised Mexico – one of the world’s biggest and oldest producers of the beans needed to make chocolate.
Nowadays, the quality of Belgian chocolate is lauded all around the world, and its quality is kept in check by a strict Belgian law, which states that all chocolate produced in the country must have a minimum cocoa content of 35%.
In fact, Switzerland was first introduced to chocolate by Belgium, when a Zurich mayor was served a hot chocolate when visiting Brussels in 1697. He loved it so much he nabbed the recipe and took it home with him, paving the way for the Swiss to become the famous chocolate experts we know them as today.
Ironically, it was then a Swiss chocolatier who helped Belgium gain its early reputation for chocolate excellence – Jean Neuhaus started selling chocolate from a small shop in 1857, and later became the first person to produce praline there in 1912.
The Brussels Neuhaus shop – with its top secret recipe - is still open for business today, so it’s a must-visit if you’re planning a chocolate tour of Belgium!
Another stop on your Belgian chocolate tour should be the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate, just off Brussels’ main square.
However, with more than 2,000 chocolatiers in Belgium, you won’t have to look far to get your chocolate hit!
5. New York, USA
North America’s chocolate tradition dates back to 1641, when chocolate arrived in the USA on a ship from Spain. And now, chocolate is a firm part of everyday life for most Americans, who eat 12lbs of chocolate a year on average.
If you have a super sweet tooth, America is the place for you, as American chocolate contains much more sugar than variations found in other countries.
Brands like Hershey’s mass produce chocolate “candy” bars and distribute them all over the world, and the American chocolate market is predicted to surpass $20 billion by 2025.
Luckily for chocoholics with a more refined palate, there are still some chocolatiers in the USA who produce their chocolate in the traditional way.
The best place to eat chocolate in the USA is arguably Jacques Torres, New York’s most famous chocolatier. With eight shops to choose from in New York, Jacques Torres even has its own chocolate museum in the city.
6. Amsterdam, Netherlands
It was the Dutch who discovered how to create powdered chocolate and invented the chocolate press, which enabled chocolatiers worldwide to mass produce chocolate and make it accessible to everyone.
Today, Amsterdam may not be primarily known for its chocolate scene, but you’d be wrong to dismiss it as a hotspot for chocolate lovers.
In fact, Amsterdam has an annual chocolate festival, as well as some of the most incredible chocolatiers in the world.
Puccini Bomboni is a must-visit for any chocolate lover visiting Amsterdam in need of a sugar fix. Sample the oversized bon bons there, which come in a range of flavours to choose from.
There’s also a chocolate museum in Amsterdam which brings together hundreds of chocolates from all over the world, as well as enlightening visitors to the history of chocolate and the role the Netherlands has played. Here, your love of chocolate will be tested to its limits, as you can sample delights like chocolate cheese, sausages and vinegar.
7. Cologne, Germany
Germans are the second biggest consumers of chocolate in the world, eating their way through 17.8lbs of chocolate per head every year. Germany is also one of the world’s largest producers of chocolate and the largest chocolate producer in Europe.
Germany’s love of chocolate began in the early 1600s, when it was a luxury product enjoyed by the aristocracy.
The country’s chocolate industry really kicked off in 1765, when the first German chocolate factory opened in Hannover with Portuguese workers drafted in for their expertise.
For any chocoholics planning a visit to Cologne today, check out the Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum (that’s chocolate museum to us), attend the annual autumn confectionary fair or visit the Lindt factory there for the ultimate sweet fix.
8. Paris, France
Chocolate has a long history in France, dating back as far as 1615, when it was presented as a gift from 14-year-old King Louis XII to his fiancée, Anne of Austria.
Later, Marie-Antoinette had her own chocolate maker and enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate and cream for breakfast every day.
Nowadays, Paris is full of famous chocolate shops and patisseries where you can feast your way around the city.
The oldest chocolate shop in Paris is Debauve & Gallais, which opened in 1800 and even supplied chocolate to Napoleon.
If you’re planning a chocolate lover’s tour of Paris, make sure you also check out Patrick Roger for some crazy flavours and insane interiors.
9. Birmingham, UK
No conversation about chocolate around the world can be complete without a mention of the UK, which has a £4 billion chocolate industry.
The first chocolate shop in the UK opened in 1657 in London, serving up hot chocolate drinks and take-home bars to drink later. By 1824, John Cadbury had opened up a shop in Birmingham, offering hand-grinded cocoa for sale.
A few years later in 1847, the invention of the cocoa press in Netherlands meant that chocolate could now be mass-produced. Britain was quick to jump on the trend, and Fry’s of Bristol got to work creating the world’s first ever chocolate bar, kicking off a worldwide trend for eating chocolate instead of drinking it.
The British chocolate innovation contined into 1868, when the Cadbury family made a heart-shaped box of chocolates to celebrate Valentine’s Day, later creating the first ever chocolate egg for Easter. The famous Cadbury Dairy Milk bar launched in 1905, and Cadbury went on to buy Fry’s in 1919.
Today, you can visit Cadbury World in Birmingham for a fun, chocolate-filled family day out.
Where to park your car ahead of a chocolate-fuelled holiday
There’s nothing sweeter than the feeling that your car is safely looked after while you’re travelling the world in search of the ultimate chocolate fix.
So before you jet off to sample the best chocolate in the world, make sure you book airport parking from a provider you can trust. Airport Park and Ride offers Park Mark approved car parking facilities close to Glasgow Airport, Gatwick Airport, Edinburgh Airport and Luton Airport, so you can eat your way around the world’s best chocolate shops without worrying about your car.