Granite State of Mind, #104: Lindt & Sprüngli Factory, Stratham
In 1845, Zurich confectioner David Sprüngli-Schwartz opened a small chocolate shop. In 1876, fellow Swiss candymaker Rodolphe Lindt developed a groundbreaking technique in chocolate manufacture that produced delicate melting flavors. In 1899 the two enterprises combined, forming the Aktiengesellschaft Vereinigte Berne und Zürcher Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli,
Lindt-Sprüngli began exporting to the United States in 1925, basing their operations in New York. In 1986, the company moved to Stratham, NH, where it still operates and manufactures its products for stateside sale. Look, I'm a Chocolatier guy, for reasons of taste and local support. But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy the more cosmopolitan and refined, if uber-commercial, treats Lindt-Sprüngli offers. You can taste the snooty continental smugness in every delicious bite. While American confectioners are absurdly eager for you to sample their wares, and can't wait to tell you all about their organic, fair-trade ingredients and sustainable processes, Lindt-Sprüngli gives the impression that they're doing you a favor by letting you taste their perfect product, all the while pointing vaguely to the magical conche machine that Lindt invented 140 years ago. It's a demeaning, delectable experience.
I had the opportunity to visit the Stratham factory a few times back during my banking days. The facility is permeated by the chocolate smell, but there's a coldness to it, a sort of Swiss sterility in comparison to the warm fragrance of the local shops. It's still terrific chocolate, and I love that such a domineering, globe-straddling multinational colossus chose Stratham for its US footprint. But that doesn't mean I have to feel good about it.