Growing up in Germany, my favorite chocolate bar was Suchard Milka, either in the milk chocolate, the chocolate-hazelnut, or the noisette flavor. Birthdays and visits of relatives were always occasions to get a new stash of Suchard. But these did not last very long. The first bar usually disappeared within a few minutes after I got it. I would just sneak away from the commotion created by arriving relatives, tear into a bar and wolf down a few pieces. Thinking about it now, I must have displayed all the signs of an addict getting his fix.
So it with this in mind that I report on the passing of Klaus Jacobs, the German/Swiss billionaire who had a hand in producing my Suchard Milka fix. Jacobs started out in the family coffee company in Bremen, Germany before moving the company to Zürich, Switzerland. There he acquired the renowned Swiss chocolate company Tobler (makers of Toblerone) and Suchard. Although this take-over occurred after my childhood addictions were somewhat attenuated, Jacobs Suchard continued to make my favorite chocolate until I grew to prefer dark chocolate about a decade ago.
He sold Jacobs Suchard to Philip Morris in 1990, a step that shocked me. I could never really accept that my favorite chocolate was now owned by Kraft (a unit of Philip Morris). Really now, how could processed cheese and mayonnaise go together with great chocolate?
But Jacobs continued to make chocolate history. Although he sold the consumer chocolate business to Philip Morris, he retained ownership of Belgian chocolate maker Callebaut. In 1996 he purchased the French chocolate maker Cacao Barry to create Barry Callebaut. Readers of this blog will recall my earlier post on that company which is now among the largest chocolate makers and suppliers in the world.
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