During our trip to Europe this summer we traveled to Germany to visit some friends that grew up in my home town. They had several activities planned for us and one of our favorites was a visit to one of the Ritter Sport Chocolate Factories. There are two in Germany and we went to the one in Weldenbuch which is just outside of the historic town of Tubingen in southern Germany (the other is in Berlin).
We love chocolate around our house and Ritter Sport is one of our favorites. The company has been producing chocolate for more than 100 years and has perfected the recipe. My favorite is always the dark chocolate with marzipan and my son’s very favorite is their chocolate with peppermint. Here we learned all about the company, how they make their chocolate and how they gained fame and expanded their scope. This company has stayed a family business the whole time and they run their company in accordance to maintaining that it always stays a family business. In the museum portion of the building you can walk along the time line and see the various wrappers and photos throughout the course of their existence. You can also watch some hilarious old ads that played on TV, including various ones during the Olympics. Ritter Sport has had different slogans you can check out and the pricing from yesteryear is something that can be quite astounding (especially coming from the US!).
There is a section of the museum area where you learn how chocolate is made and you can taste roasted cocoa beans too. They kind of have a coffee flavor to them and in my opinion taste a lot better with loads of sugar and cream mixed in, but it was interesting to try! The cocoa that Ritter Sport sources is not only sustainably harvested with the fairest practices possible, but is also used in a sustainable and ecological way. The company feels that the initial investment might hurt a little bit to begin with but will pay off in the end to provide a healthier work environment and world. I appreciate that a great deal and had no idea these were their best practices until we visited (making me grateful I have been supporting them all this time!).
A few favorite things of our at the factory/museum:
Our friends were able to book a very special experience for the kids (because parents are not allowed…at least not until the end so we can take pictures). This is the perfect time for the adults to head down to the amazing cafe and have a drink on the patio in the sunshine (during the summer) or to warm up inside (the rest of the time) and enjoy a quick and tasty bite to eat! Kids get to make their own chocolate bars and for them it feels a bit like being Charlie and going off to Willy Wonka school! They are given special squares that are different colors showing which chocolate group they are booked with (you can see it above for our group). At the time of the booking, the teachers come out and get the kids to take them back to the “Schokowerkstatt” (the Chocoworkshop). It is here that the kids are taught about making chocolate and then they set to work creating their own chocolate mix. There is a wall of candy that kids can mix into the chocolate before putting the whole lot it into the molds. My son chose Pop Rocks and Gummi Bears to mix with his chocolate which was surprisingly delicious! After the chocolate goes in the molds, the kids head to the other side of the room where they design their own chocolate boxes that will eventually house the chocolate bars they are making (they end up taking 2 home). This gives the chocolate time to set. Once they are done with their packaging they are taught how to get the chocolate out of the molds and then box everything up to take home.
Another favorite thing for all kids is the special chocolate delivery system they have in the museum. To be honest, this might also be a favorite thing of some really really tall kids too (aka adults…like me, although I am not that tall). When you get to the machine, you push a button and the little truck drives around the track, through the building which shakes (because it is making your chocolate), and then back to the front where it tips it’s load into a little slot that delivers it to the excited kid/adult. There was always a line here so the best time to hit it is right when the kids head in to the Schokowertstatt since it is right outside the door. That is when the line is the shortest!
Downstairs there is a big store that may or may not have taken a good portion of my travel budget (but they had all of the flavors and they were about 1/3 of the cost I would have paid at home and then I came across the section where they wrap the ones that aren’t quite perfect in bulk packs and they are even less and then you get to the seasonal flavors and you have to try them because they don’t import them, at least not to your store and then you remember that you need some chocolate as gifts and then you find some that you just can’t live without and then…….you know what I mean, right?). The store is choc (pun intended!) full of amazing things to eat and frankly I could have spent more time exploring, but I decided my wallet would appreciate me paying for my goods and departing.
This was such a fun couple of hours and if you are in the area we highly recommend booking a chocolate making experience for your kiddos (reservations are needed) and to having a look around! If you don’t have kiddos, the cafe is worth a stop and from what we saw made a great a great stop during a bike ride!