The Germans have a genius for chocolate-making and confectionery. My first exposure to German chocolate was Easter candy shared by a college friend, whose papa worked for NATO. Not only were the chocolates delicious, they were the most beautiful I had ever seen.
Later, I had a chance to try the famous Mozartkugeln (made in both Austria and Germany), which are chocolate-covered confections of pistachio, marzipan and nougat.
And most recently, with a little help from a German friend, I discovered the delights of the oldest chocolate factory in Germany, Halloren Schokoladenfabrik.
Halloren’s most famous product is the Kugel (“ball” or “globe”), which comes in a kaleidoscopic range of regular and seasonal flavors. The filling is soft, with a texture sometimes like fluffy marshmallow, and sometimes like marzipan.
The flavors are bewitching, and despite the “American Style” label, like nothing one can buy here. The Blueberry is especially intense. Other flavors have included Plum-Rum, Choco-Eggnog, Coconut-Chocolate, Raspberry-Yogurt, Black Forest-Kirsch, Latte-Macchiato, Straciatella, and the original Chocolate-Cream.
The factory also makes gold-wrapped coins (Schokogeld), liqueur chocolates (mmmm) and many other delights (including a version of Mozartkugeln). Halloren (and especially the Kugel) seems to have inspired a fandom and culture all its own.
One of the differences between candy companies in Europe and in the US is that producers like Hershey and Mars have always marketed their products in one of two ways. Candy was mostly for children, but when pitched to grownups it was touted as a nutritious food. During the 1920s and 30s, there were candy bars called “Chicken Dinner” and “Lunch Bar.” They were a cheap way to take in calories during the Depression. Even today, brands like Snickers suggest that a candy bar can stand in for a meal if you’re busy: “Snickers really satisfies.”
In Europe, on the other hand, candies and chocolate have always been taken seriously as an adult form of pleasure. I remember when Dove chocolate began to be marketed here in the 1980s. It was the first time commercial chocolate was presented to us as a high-quality product for adults. The target audience was women, and the chocolate was “a sensuous indulgence,” with a silky texture. But products like liqueur chocolates are still restricted to smaller, artisanal producers in the US, and most of what I see in markets is imported.
Next time I am in Germany, Halle may just be the first city on my list, for good chocolate and good friends.