What would a Christmas calendar be without chocolate? First of all, it would be a terrible disappointment. But there was a time before it became a standard feature – before Anton Reiche came on the scene. He was the founder of Schokoladenformen- und Blechemballagenfabrik (the ‘Chocolate Mould and Sheet Metal Factory’) in Dresden which around 1900 offered a varied selection of chocolate moulds, including animals, airships, automobiles, railway trains, famous politicians, tools and household items. Easter bunnies and Santa Claus were also included in the range. Reiche’s moulds were the precursor to the invention of the chocolate-filled Christmas calendar.
Before the First World War, there were 28 factories in the city processing 550 tonnes of cocoa a year – a quarter of total cocoa sales in Germany.
And where should you go for the best ‘Tell Apples’ made of chocolate and the best Chocolate Dominoes? The answer should come as no surprise: these too are products of the Dresden chocolate industry, along with Russisches Brot (‘Russian loaf’) and chocolate-filled wafer sticks known as Radebeuler Stäbchen.