In the 1870s Jean Tobler was the owner of a confectionery shop in Berne, Switzerland, producing chocolate confectionery from products supplied by other manufacturers. The popularity and increasing demand for Tobler’s products encouraged him to open his own chocolate factory. In 1899 Jean Tobler, together with his son Theodor, established the Chocolat Tobler company and the Fabrique de Chocolat in Berne. Jean Tobler retired in 1900 and Theodor took control of the business.
In 1908 Theodor Tobler and his cousin Emil Baumann developed a unique milk chocolate including nougat, almonds and honey. The new chocolate was called Toblerone, (a play on the name “Tobler” and the Italian word for honey and almond nougat “torrone”) and would become the company’s best seller, ensuring the success of the business for many years to come.
Toblerone was produced in a distinctive triangular shape. It is commonly believed that the triangular shape of the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps had given Theodor Tobler his inspiration for the shape of Toblerone however, according to Theodor’s son the triangular shape originates from a pyramid shape that dancers at the Folies Bergeres created as the finale of a show that Theodor had seen.
Chocolat Tobler remained an independent company until 1967 when it merged with Meltis Ltd. (a subsidiary of Peek Frean) to become Chocolat Tobler Meltis Ltd. All Chocolat Tobler products for UK sale were made at the company’s factory in Bedford.
In 1975 Interfood took over the company and merged it with Suchard. In 1982 the business merged with the Jacobs coffee company to create Jacobs Suchard. Kraft Foods acquired the business, including Toblerone, in 1990.