Chocolate is one of the world’s favorite sweet treats, with over 2.8 billion pounds consumed annually. But have you ever thought about who are the biggest and best chocolate brands?
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Whether you enjoy plain milk chocolate, bitter dark chocolate, or chocolate with fruit and nuts mixed in, there is an option for everyone.
Chocolate Bars Make Us Happy
Over the years, scientists have researched whether or not eating chocolate makes us happy. If you’ve ever had a piece of chocolate, I’m sure you know the outcome. Chocolate triggers a chemical reaction in our brains, which, in turn, elevates our mood. The neurotransmitters responsible for happiness (dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins) are released into our brains when consuming chocolate.
This happiness we feel post chocolate indulgence, as well as the chocolate’s incredible taste, is what makes us want to go back for more.
Chocolate brands throughout the world have created their unique chocolate flavor combinations. And in this article, we’re going to delve into some well-known chocolate brands from all around the globe to help you venture out and potentially find your new favorite chocolate.
American Chocolate Brands
America is one of the largest countries in the world, so it’s no surprise that popular chocolate brands have popped up throughout the 50 states.
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Americans consume 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate each year, and historians believe that a Spanish ship was the first to introduce chocolate to the country in 1641. They also believe that in 1682, the first chocolate house opened in Boston, and the demand for chocolate hasn’t stopped since.
Thanks to the huge popularity of chocolate among Americans, chocolate brands have evolved to create a plethora of different chocolate bars. The Hershey Company, Mars, and the Ferrara Candy Company are some of the most known brands.
Ferrara Candy Company
The Ferrara Candy Company has been around since 1908, when Salvatore Ferrara sold candy-coated almonds from his Chicago bakery. In November 2017, the Italian Ferrero Group acquired the Ferrara Candy Company, and just a year later, the company was handed responsibility for the products purchased from Nestlé’s U.S. candy line.
Although the brand mainly focuses on candy bars and cotton candy such as Nerds, Laffy Taffy, and Gobstoppers, they also dabble in chocolate. Butterfingers, Baby Ruths, and Crunch are some of the brand’s most known chocolate bars eaten throughout the entire US.
Mars is one of America’s leading chocolate brands and is widely considered one of the best. Of course, they’re most known for their standard Mars bar, a chocolate-covered nougat bar with a black wrapper and the word Mars in red and gold writing, but they’re also the producers of many other sweet treats.
Dove, Snickers, M&Ms, Twix, and 3 Musketeers are among some of the other subsidiary bars produced by the Mars company.
When you hear the brand Mars, you instantly think of chocolate, but it may surprise you to know that they produce a range of other products unrelated to the chocolatey goodness we all love.
Mars manufactures pet care through subsidiary brands like Whiskas and Pedigree, and they also have many subsidiary food brands such as Dolmio and Ben’s Original.
Originally, the company began in the UK, but it soon took the world and America by storm, eventually becoming a multinational manufacturer. Franklin Clarence Mars created the company in 1911 and first manufactured a chocolate bar in 1932.
The Hershey Company
The Hershey Company is possibly the most well-known American chocolate brand.
It’s pretty much guaranteed that there will be a Hershey’s chocolate bar in some form in any store you walk into.
The American chocolatier Milton S. Hershey started up his chocolate company in 1894 as a subsidiary of the Lancaster Caramel Company. However, he didn’t create and launch his first Hershey’s chocolate product until 1900.
After the launch went well, he focused on chocolate and introduced Hershey’s Milk Chocolate before later adding Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses. The company now produces milkshakes, cakes, cookies, syrups, and chocolate.
In 1963, The Hershey Company acquired the Reese’s Candy Company, which now runs as a sub-brand of Hershey. H. B. Reese created the famous Reese’s peanut butter cups in 1928 and, through connections to the Hershey Company, sold his business for $23.5 million.
Hershey also wanted to give back, and in the year 2000, they founded the World Cocoa Foundation. The foundation aims to support cocoa farmers in West Africa to make chocolate production more ethical.
Belgium Chocolate Brands
Spanish explorers who ventured to South America brought cocoa beans to Belgium in the 17th century. The discovery of cocoa beans ignited Belgium’s love for chocolate, and they now have over 2,000 chocolate shops across the country.
Guylian is one of Belgium’s most famous chocolate brands, and for a good reason. Their incredible hazelnut praline seashells, for example, quite literally melt in your mouth.
Guy Foubert created the well-known praline seashells, making the company famous in the 1960s. Now, Guylian, with its seahorse logo, produces individually wrapped chocolate bars, truffles, and gift boxes.
If you’ve never tried one of the distinctive chocolates, I highly recommend it!
Godiva is another of the world’s famous Belgian chocolate brands that produce premium chocolates for an affordable price. Joseph Draps, a chocolatier from Brussels, created the handmade Belgian chocolate brand in honor of Lady Godiva.
The luxury-looking chocolate comes delicately wrapped with gold packaging and ribbons to enhance the chocolate experience further. In my opinion, they make a fantastic gift for all the chocolate lovers out there.
Godiva’s chocolates’ ingredients form a rich and authentic taste unlike any other. The company also makes chocolate truffles, chocolate-covered-snacks, and even chocolate liqueur.
English Popular Chocolate Brands
For over 200 years, the people of Britain mainly consumed chocolate in a liquid form. During the 17th century, men, and only men, chatted and gambled in parlors while sipping on chocolate drinks. Then, in 1847, Joseph Fry discovered that you could turn chocolate into a solid by adding cocoa powder.
This discovery was where the chocolate industry all began. J. S. Fry & Sons made the first chocolate bar in Bristol, and the rest is history.
Many Brits will agree that Cadbury Dairy Milk is Britain’s most popular chocolate brand. The sheer amount of chocolate bar flavors this company creates constantly keeps them relevant and well-loved among their customers.
The Easter period sees a massive influx of sales for Cadbury’s as their chocolate eggs line the shelves of supermarkets all over the country.
Cadbury creme eggs are a real treat that all chocolate lovers need to experience.
Although the UK’s leading chocolate brand knocks Easter eggs out of the park, it doesn’t stop there. They also produce spreads, high-quality baking chocolate, hot chocolates, and ice creams.
John Cadbury founded the British multinational confectionery company in 1824, and it now sits behind Mars in second place for the world’s largest confectionery brand.
Green and Blacks
Green & Blacks create their gourmet chocolate with Trinitario cocoa beans to give their dark chocolate an extremely rich taste.
The company is slightly more sophisticated than the country’s leading chocolate brand, making their bars excellent gifts to give to friends and families.
Nowadays, Green & Black’s has various chocolate bar flavors, from 85% dark chocolate to sea salt, white chocolate, and salted caramel.
Hotel Chocolat is another of England’s famous chocolate brands, with over 100 stores dotted around the country.
The chocolate brand specializes in luxury chocolate and chocolate gifts that are almost too pretty to eat. In 2018, they changed the game of hot chocolate making, releasing a velvetizer that many have said creates the perfect hot chocolate.
Like Cadburys, Hotel Chocolat thrives atEaster and produces spectacular Easter eggs, chocolate figures, and hampers.
French Chocolate Brands
Historians believe that chocolate was first introduced to France in 1615 as a wedding gift to Louis XIII from his future wife Anne of Austria. Thanks to this gift, we consider Anne the originator of French chocolate, and its popularity only grew over the coming years.
Valrhona sources its cocoa beans from plantations in the Caribbean, South America, and the Pacific Ocean. The small village of Tain L’Hermitage has been producing the brand’s luxury chocolates since 1922.
Albéric Guironnet, the chocolate brand’s founder, was dedicated to creating high-quality artisan chocolate with complex flavors to suit all taste buds. Their products come as individually wrapped chocolates, chocolates topped with chopped hazelnuts, and tasting bars with distinctive ingredients.
Valrhona has even branched out and expanded its knowledge by opening and operating cocoa plantations in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.
German Chocolate Brands
We need to thank the Spanish for introducing chocolate to countries all over the globe. Unfortunately, Germany was slightly late to the game, as other European countries had been enjoying hot chocolate for a while throughout the 17th century.
At first, Germany only sold chocolate as medicine in pharmacies, but that later changed in 1839. Jordan & Timaeus sold the country’s first known chocolate bar and changed the way Germans viewed chocolate from there on out.
Kinder is a subsidiary brand of the Italian multinational confectionery company Ferrero. Although Michele Ferrero was Italian, he founded Kinder in Frankfurt, Germany, where it soon gained tremendous traction.
The name “Kinder” means “children” in German, and the product was marketed to be healthy and nutritious as it contained a high percentage of milk.
Some of the brand’s most known products are the Kinder Chocolate Bar, Kinder Bueno, and Kinder Joy. The Kinder Surprise is egg-shaped chocolate that conceals a surprise toy in the middle. Kinder specifically markets their chocolate to children in the hopes they’ll ask their parents to buy them one. You can’t really fault their marketing strategies.
Swiss Chocolate Brands
The chocolate produced in Switzerland is some of the creamiest chocolate on the market because it is warmed and ground during the making process. This process is one of the main differences between Swiss and Belgian chocolate.
François-Louis Cailler opened the first mechanized chocolate factory in 1819 in Vevey. His factory churned out mass-produced Swiss chocolate, which eventually spread to countries outside of Europe.
Nestlé is a Swiss chocolate brand that all of us know and love. In 1867, Henri Nestlé created infant food and condensed milk. His company supplied this condensed milk to Daniel Peter, who used it to develop the first Nestlé chocolate bar in 1880.
The Swiss multinational food and drink corporation now sells everything from baby food and cereal to bottled water and nutrition products.
Some of their well-known subsidiary brands include Nespresso, Nescafé, KitKat, and Milo.
Rodolphe Lindt launched the Lindt chocolate company in 1845 in Zürich, Switzerland. The company’s most popular product is the Lindor Truffle – a spherical chocolate ball with a smooth chocolate filling.
Lindt only uses fine raw materials and high-quality ingredients to produce their chocolate to give their customers the most delicious sweet treat.
As well as their signature truffles, Lindt also produces full-sized chocolate bars, liqueurs, and spreads.
Did you know that Lindt is the third oldest chocolate company in the world!
Toblerone knows how to stand out in a crowd. Instead of sticking to the usual block chocolate bar, the creators decided to take a more unique route.
All Toberlone chocolates are shaped like mountains, and the brand’s logo even resembles the popular Swiss mountain, the Matterhorn.
Theodor Tobler invented the nougat-filled triangular-shaped block in 1908. He made variations of the recipe to include dark, white, salted caramel, and fruit and nut chocolate alongside the standard milk bar.
Technically, Milka can be categorized as Swiss and German chocolate. After an American business plan failure, Philippe Suchard created the first chocolate bar in Switzerland. His children founded the Milka brand after his death and have mass-produced chocolate bars ever since.
We can quickly identify Milka chocolate bars by the cow featured on all Milka packets. Over the past 100 years, Milka has been produced in Germany, with manufacturers pumping out 140,000 tonnes of chocolate each year.
Fair Trade Chocolate Brands
Some companies are taking chocolate production and making it as ethical as possible. Chocolate brands categorized under the Fairtrade category are helping cocoa farmers receive a premium on top of their standard crop price.
The Fairtrade premium given to the farmers goes back into their communities to improve their overall living conditions.
Many young people are put off from becoming cocoa farmers due to the low pay rate for such a labor-intensive job. The Fairtrade premium helps farmers cover all their living costs, so everyone involved in the process from farming to production is paid a fair and reliable wage.
The U.S based chocolate company Equal Exchange has made it its mission to work hand in hand with farmers in Latin America to produce ethically grown and made products. It first started off with coffee from Nicaragua in 1986 but has now branched out into chocolate, tea, and other food items.
Equal Exchange sources its ingredients and products from over 40 small farm organizations. This small, close-knit circle allows them to build long-lasting and trusting relationships.
Although their chocolate bars come in at a more premium price than your regular store-bought chocolate, all that money is going to a cause that recognizes farmers as equals.
The raw and organic chocolate by the Australian-based company Loving Earth features quality wholefood ingredients.
Loving Earth has partnered up with the Ashaninka community in the Peruvian Amazon. They struck a deal to purchase the community’s entire harvest for a significantly higher price than what they were receiving.
This additional money is helping the community protect their land and way of life after years of fending off terrorists, traffickers, and loggers.
Scott Fry and his partner Martha Butler founded the Loving Earth business in 2007. It quickly took off as many consumers agreed with all the company’s core values. These values included making products that are sustainable, healthy, and fair.
Theo Chocolates’ main mission is to allow everyone in the chocolate-making process to thrive. The company offers its farmers a stable price for their harvest. And this price helps ensure they’re consistently making a profit to better their lives in the future.
Joe Whinney and Jeff Fairhall founded the Theo brand in Seattle over 17 years ago. They released their first Fairtrade chocolate bar a year later. And have been growing their diverse inventory to include all kinds of chocolates and candies.
The average price of a Theo chocolate bar is $4.25. Which, in my book, is a great price for a bar that’s giving back.
Expensive Chocolate Brands
Like many things in the world, Chocolate can also come with a premium price tag. The following brands produce gourmet and luxury chocolates and truffles that’ll do some damage to your wallet.
Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate
The Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate Company was brought to life in France during the winter of 2016. Chef Gabriel Kreuther and Chef Marc Aumont use the finest ingredients to create exceptional chocolates and truffles with exquisite tastes.
The prices of their chocolate collection range from $38 up to $128. The Signature Chef’s 48 Piece Selection is their most premium product.
Larry Burdick, an American chocolatier, returned to America after training in Switzerland. He had a passion for creating chocolate delicacies for America to enjoy.
He claims to combine Swiss know-how, French gastronomic thoughtfulness, and his American imagination to produce his chocolate bars, assortments, and chocolate figurines.
Although his chocolates are pricier than your average store-bought variations, they’re more affordable than those at Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate. A 60-piece chocolate box from L. A. Burdick is roughly $82.
Our final chocolate brand is Prestat. Antoine Dufour established the London-based chocolaterie in 1902.
Prestat has been supplying chocolate to the British Royal Family for years. The Queen even issued Prestat the Royal Warrant as a Purveyor of Chocolates in 1975.
Before establishing Prestat, Antoine Dufour invented the chocolate truffle. And to this day, truffles are enjoyed and appreciated all over the world.
As I’m sure you can imagine, if these chocolates are being given to royalty, they must come at a price. Although their chocolate bars are pretty reasonable at $6.50, their cheapest 9-piece gift box is around $21.
Chocolate Brands: Our Final Thoughts
Chocolate, in its many forms, will never go out of fashion.
Since its creation in the 17th century, people worldwide have indulged in this cocoa-based sweet treat. I mean, it not only satisfies cravings but also makes you happy. So what’s not to love?
As we come to a close, we would love to know what your favorite chocolate brand is? Are you a milk chocolate lover, or perhaps dark chocolate is your guilty pleasure?
Are there any we haven’t listed that should have made the cut? Let us know in the comments down below!