When you hear “Ghirardelli Chocolate Company,” what comes to mind? Delicious? Famous? Difficult to spell? For Chocolate Dessert Café, Ghirardelli Chocolate is some of the tastiest chocolate we’ve ever laid our taste buds on. It’s also the second oldest of United States chocolate brands, coming in just behind Baker’s Chocolate.
Sometimes, delicious chocolate desserts require old-fashioned endurance from their creators. Ghirardelli Chocolate Company is such a one. Its origins can be traced back to an Italian man named Domenico Ghirardelli who got his start in the confectionery business by working as a child apprentice for a candymaker in Rapallo, Italy during the early 19th century. Upon reaching the age of 20, Domenico packed up his wife and moved to Uruguay, where he worked at a coffee and chocolate establishment. After doing this for a year, the Ghirardellis moved again to Lima, Peru, where they started their own confectionary store. They stayed on at this store for over a decade until word came of the California gold rush in 1849, inspiring Domenico to capitalize on the business prospects there. Leaving his family behind in Peru, Domenico moved to Stockton, California and began a general store (one of the first shops in the area) which sold yummy chocolate desserts on top of basic supplies to the local miners. Within months, he opened another store in San Francisco, CA. Fires in 1851 destroyed both stores within days of each other, but this didn’t deter Domenico from opening two more San Francisco-based stores, Cairo Coffee House and Ghirardely & Girard. The coffee store didn't do well, but the desserts delivered success. Domenico soon had enough money to bring his family over from Peru. He changed the name of the company to D. Ghirardelli & Co., which was incorporated in 1852 and continues to operate under this name today.
As the years progressed, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory relocated within San Francisco several times to accommodate the need for a larger manufacturing facility. By 1866, the company was importing 1000 pounds of cocoa seeds each year to fuel its sales of chocolate, spices, and coffee to locals in addition to the rest of the U.S., Mexico, Japan, and China. Domenico Ghirardelli retired as company head in 1892 and left the job to his three sons. The coffee and spices portion of the business was sold off by 1900, and in 1963, The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company was purchased by the Golden Grain Macaroni Company (known for making Rice-A-Roni). Quaker Oats acquired Golden Grain in 1986 and eventually sold Ghirardelli Chocolate to a group of private investors. Later, in 1998, the Switzerland based company Lindt and Sprüngli took over Ghirardelli and maintains it to this day.
All Ghirardelli Chocolate Company aficionados know about Ghirardelli Square, the San Francisco landmark area near Fisherman’s Wharf that served as the location for many of the original Ghirardelli buildings. Domengo Ghirardelli actually bought the whole block in 1893 to use it for the headquarters of his chocolate company. When Ghirardelli was acquired by Golden Grain in the early 1960s, the Ghirardelli headquarters was moved to San Leandro, CA, and the square itself was sold. The historical buildings on site were then renovated into a complex of restaurants and retail stores that became known as Ghirardelli Square, replete with a Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Shop. The square was designated an official city landmark in 1965 and, with plentiful chocolate to buy, is still a large tourist attraction to this day.
Ghirardelli ranks among the few U.S. chocolate companies that controls the entirety of its chocolate manufacturing process, making it a “bean-to-bar” company. The company ensures that the “highest quality” cocoa seeds are used, often rejecting up to 40% of the seeds shipped to its factory. Once this selection process is over, Ghirardelli removes the outer shell of the seeds and roasts the inner portion, also known as the nib. After this step is complete, the roasted nibs are ground and refined into 19 micrometer sized flakes. All this is done in-house to create the best choclate possible.
One of the beauties of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company is its
simplicity. Its products can either be purchased in bars or
individually packaged squares that are available in different quantities
of dark, milk, or white chocolate. Some of the best known Ghirardelli
Chocolate flavors are: almond, blackberry, caramel, mint, pumpkin,
raspberry, sea salt, and toffee.
Craving chocolate yet? Ghirardelli chocolate candy is a very popular gift. You can buy Ghiradelli chocolate online right here, at our website. (Did I just misspell that?!)