Discovering Ghirardelli: The Art of Chocolate Making


In the heart of San Francisco, a tale of chocolate unfolds that’s as rich as the treats it produces. The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, founded mid-19th century by Italian immigrant Domenico Ghirardelli, has a history as flavorful as its chocolate. Starting with just 600 pounds of chocolate from South America, Ghirardelli turned a small confectionery into a chocolate empire that’s recognized worldwide.

One of Ghirardelli’s unique contributions to the world of chocolate was the discovery of the Broma process. By simply hanging a bag of chocolate mass in a warm room, the cocoa butter would drip out, leaving a residue that could be turned into ground chocolate. This innovative technique produced a more intense chocolate flavor, setting Ghirardelli apart from the competition.

Ghirardelli Square, the company’s original site, is a must-visit spot in San Francisco. It’s more than just a place—it’s a testament to the enduring legacy of a chocolate pioneer.

The Art of Chocolate Making

I’ve walked you through the rich tapestry of Ghirardelli’s history, and it’s evident that this isn’t just about chocolate or chocolate chips. It’s about a legacy that’s been built on innovation, passion and the relentless pursuit of perfection.

San Francisco - Ghirardelli Square

The Broma process, Ghirardelli’s brainchild, revolutionized the chocolate world. And Ghirardelli Square isn’t just a place, it’s a testament to the sweet success of a chocolate empire. So when you bite into that next piece of sweetness Ghirardelli chocolate or enjoy Ghirardelli Sea Salt Caramel Sauce, remember the journey it’s been on. It’s more than a treat, it’s a piece of history. And that’s the true art of chocolate making.

Ghirardelli History

Imagine you and your friends walking down the streets of San Francisco in the 19th century and stumbling upon a little confectionery shop known as Ghirardelli. This modest store was the brainchild of Domingo Ghirardelli, who started selling sweets to miners when he first arrived in California. It’s amazing to think that this humble establishment has since morphed into a major industry player, renowned for its premium chocolate.

Ghirardelli’s story page is as rich as the cocoa beans it uses in its chocolates. As I delve into the annals of time, I’m intrigued to see a bust of Ghirardelli on display at Ghirardelli Square.

This magnificent sculpture crafted by Genoese sculptor Antonio Bozzano dates back to 1890 and is a captivating testament to the brand’s history. While exploring further, it’s fascinating to find an albumen photographic portrait of Domingo Ghirardelli by George H Johnson. The striking image, from about 1860, depicts Ghirardelli standing in all his entrepreneurial glory.

Some noteworthy materials offer further details on the Ghirardelli legacy. One such resource is The Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook by Neva Beach, which, apart from showcasing delectable recipes, outlines Ghirardelli’s early history. Further enlightenment comes from the Ghirardelli Company Archives that boast extensive information.

The fascinating legacy of Ghirardelli extends beyond artifacts and archive inventory. The core legacy is arguably the brand’s growth from its early days. From owning a humble confectionery shop, Ghirardelli transformed into a phenomenon. Today, the mention of Ghirardelli instantly conjures up images of decadent chocolates and the lure of indulgence.

Ghirardelli’s history is far from a typical tale. It’s a story of enduring passion, hard work, and staying true to one’s vision. As we continue peeling back the layers of this intriguing history, each revelation serves to deepen our appreciation for the brand and its mission.

Who owns Ghirardelli Chocolate now?

Dive into the fascinating narrative of ownership that shaped Ghirardelli Chocolate. The sweet journey begins in the 19th century, takes us through the 20th century, and reaches into the present 21st century.

Lindt & Sprüngli, the Swiss chocolatier and confectionery company renowned worldwide, is the current owner of Ghirardelli. In recent history, their pivotal acquisition occurred, shaking up the chocolate world. Ghirardelli Chocolate Company came under the umbrella of Lindt & Sprüngli as a wholly owned subsidiary of its holding company.

This significant event changed the trajectory of Ghirardelli’s narrative, positioning it alongside a global brand known for premium chocolate. To put this into perspective, Lindt isn’t just a chocolate company; it’s a powerful story of success, innovation, and commitment to quality, much like Ghirardelli itself.

However, the Ghirardelli story isn’t merely a tale of ownership changes and buyouts. It’s an enduring legacy of dedication to craft, business acumen, and the pursuit of the ultimate chocolate experience.

Ghirardelli, an iconic brand, hasn’t forgotten its roots. It remains a proud testament to the pioneering spirit of its founder, Domingo Ghirardelli. The charm of Ghirardelli Square, its status as an official city landmark, and National Historic Register status are true embodiments of this commitment to heritage.

True to this rich history, modern developments haven’t diluted the Ghirardelli name. Under Lindt, our beloved brand has continued to thrive, dominate, and innovate. The now-famous filled SQUARES chocolates, including the popular Milk & Caramel SQUARES, were launched under this new stewardship.

Let’s not forget the age-old heritage of Ghirardelli, though. Even now, it is the oldest continuously running chocolate factory in the US, outliving Hershey and Nestlé Toll House. The journey from its first general store in 1849 to being a precious part of Lindt today is a captivating tale, a story of growing through change while remaining true to vision and values.

How are Ghirardelli Chocolate made?

As we delve deeper into the world of Ghirardelli, it’s natural to wonder, how are Ghirardelli Chocolates made? The process holds a lot of historical tradition and innovation.

The company, which began as a general store, eventually started selling chocolate under the Ghirardelli brand. It has always stayed true to its roots and commitment to producing high-quality chocolate.

In response to whether Ghirardelli chocolate is still made in San Francisco? The answer is, in a way, yes. The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company’s headquarters is still located in San Francisco, which remains an integral part of the city’s culture and history.

An iconic part of the Ghirardelli story is the historic Ghirardelli Square. This landmark public square is home to the original Ghirardelli factory, offering a glimpse into the chocolate-making process. Not only does Ghirardelli Square offer a sneak peek into the cacao bean transformation, but it also houses a retail store and ice cream shop, inviting patrons to step into a sweet haven that’s been a significant part of the city since 1852.

cars parked in front of brown and white building

Bringing their chocolate tradition alive, Ghirardelli also still continues to play a major role in the city’s cultural landscape. Several local businesses and restaurants regard Ghirardelli as a proud San Franciscan ambassador and source their chocolates from them, highlighting their commitment to quality.

We’ve learned that Ghirardelli’s production is intrinsically tied to San Francisco, both maintaining its rich history and continuing to innovate under the care of its current owner, the Swiss chocolatier and confectionery company, Lindt & Sprüngli. Sticking true to Domingo Ghirardelli’s pioneering spirit, the company remains the oldest continuously operating chocolate manufacturer in the United States.

Where was Ghirardelli originated?

Ghirardelli’s tale is one of resilience, innovation, and a steadfast commitment to quality. It’s a story that began in the heart of San Francisco and has spanned over a century, weathering ownership changes and evolving market trends.

Today, under Lindt & Sprüngli’s guidance, Ghirardelli stands as the oldest continuously running chocolate factory in the US, a testament to its founder’s pioneering spirit. Its chocolates, crafted with precision and care, continue to delight consumers worldwide.

And its iconic headquarters at Ghirardelli Square remains a symbol of the city’s rich cultural fabric. Ghirardelli’s history is not just about a business, but about a legacy that has been woven into the very fabric of San Francisco. It’s a legacy that continues to thrive, innovate, and set new standards in the world of premium chocolate.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do Ghirardelli Chocolate squares last?

Dark chocolate from Ghirardelli can last up to two years unopened with proper storage, and up to one year if opened. Meanwhile, milk and white chocolate bars have a shelf life of one year unopened, and 6-8 months if opened and stored appropriately.

How do Italians say Nutella?

The traditional Italian pronunciation of the popular hazelnut cocoa spread is “new-tell-uh”.

Is Ghirardelli pronounced with a hard or soft G?

The proper pronunciation of Ghirardelli starts with a hard G, mimicking the sound in ‘garbage’. It is pronounced as GEE-rar-DELL-ee.

What is so special about Ghirardelli Chocolate?

Ghirardelli chocolate is unique because it rejects up to 40% of cocoa seeds to select what it deems to be the “highest quality” seeds. This stringent process makes them one of the few US chocolate companies to control every aspect of their chocolate manufacturing process.

What’s the highest-rated chocolate in the world?

Friis-Holm Chokolade from Denmark was awarded the highest number of prizes, including seven silvers and nine bronzes. Other notable award-winners include Fu Wan Chocolate from Taiwan, Kasama Chocolate from Canada, and Fjåk Chocolate from Norway. Mary Chocolate Co. also received one of the highest scores.

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