I went to the Land of Chocolate and it was fascinating!
I expected some scary Oompa Loompas and a chocolate waterfall, but what I got was much more clinical yet still enjoyable.
The land I speak of is the Lindt Chocolate Factory and Museum in Cologne, Germany. I have to say the Germans do chocolate very well indeed and so it was with schoolgirlish delight that I approached the riverside building unaware of what awaited inside for me.
Firstly, it is so educational… it shows you how a chocolate plant grows flowers then beans and what the beans have to go through to become the chocolate that we eat.
There was a heated conservatory full of cocoa plants and butterflies, there was a series of machinery that ground, pulped, sieved, etc… and out the other side was a golden, free-flowing, chocolate fountain in a glass room. A woman in white from head to toe dipped cookies in the fountain and handed these out to guests.
Next there was a machine worthy of a Raymond Scott soundtrack that churned out perfectly formed little chocolate pieces. A lady sat at the end of the assembly line harvesting the gold-foiled little nuggets and placing them in a box. It reminded me of this famous I Love Lucy sketch…
Upstairs was a room with mechanical arms throwing chocolate moulds around, creating chocolate footballs, hearts, bunnies and race cars. More women in white were making hand spun truffles and specialty chocolate bars with different nuts, sprinkles and edible gold.
This led on to the vintage packaging displays. I love kitschy things and so for me this was inspiring. Old chocolate boxes from the 20's featured kittens with large eyes and Kinder egg toys from yesteryear had a lot more pizzaz than Kinder eggs of today.
All in all, this was such a thrill, I might have to go for a hot chocolate right now with double marshmallow; close my eyes and think of Cologne.