Two of the highlights of my trip to Switzerland with Nestlé were visits to the Le Maison Cailler (Cailler Chocolate Factory) and the Alimentarium (Nestlé Museum of Nutrition).
At Le Maison Cailler, we learn about another brand, Cailler, under the Nestlé family while at the Alimentarium, we learn about the history of Nestlé as well as food and nutrition.
Vevey was where it all started.
In 1839 a German pharmacist moved to Vevey which is in the French part of Switzerland. He changed his name from Heinrich Nestle to Henri Nestlé. His company, Nestlé, which is known the world over today, founded the Alimentarium, a museum of nutrition.
At the museum, we learned that the first product from Nestlé was not chocolate, but milk powder. Henri Nestlé invnted a method of producing milk powder in 1867, laying the foundation in Vevey for what is now, the largest food company in the world.
The Alimentarium was founded by Nestlé in 1985 in Vevey as a dedication to various aspects of food and nutrition in the world.
It is not a museum just about Nestlé – the museum houses a permanent exhibition on the production, processing, effect and trading of food within the framework of the four topics of cooking, eating, buying and digesting. The information offered on various aspects of nutrition is complemented by interactive changing exhibitions, cooking studios and an exhibition on the history of the Nestlé company, with an overview of the groups of products marketed:
Beautiful giant fork designed by Jean-Pierre Zaugg, a sculptor from Neuchâtel, Switzerland and embedded in the lake in 1995 to commemorate the Alimentarium’s 10th anniversary
The fork is situated in Lake Geneva, in front of the Alimentarium and has become an emblem for the town of Vevey
This is really beautiful isn’t it? I am now using this image as the display picture for my Twitter account @alvinologist
Someone was feeding the swans when we were at the lake
Statue of Charlie Chaplin in front of the Alimentarium
A girl sitting on Charlie Chaplin
There is a small garden in front of the Alimentarium with real crops
Small green tomatoes
Look carefully, the “butterflies” are all composed of food items
How cooking was done through the ages
Cooking pots from around the world
Assorted vintage tea cups
More tea drinking cups and such
A teeny weeny piece of bread leftover from the years of the Great Famine in Ireland between 1845 and 1852
Different kinds of meat grinders from around the world
Assorted meat cutters and such
Cooking pots and pans from around the world
There is a cooking lesson going on
An American hotdog stand
The oldest piece of bread in the world, as recognised by the Guinness Book of Records
It looks like a giant clam to me
Learning about our food pyramid
There were many kids in the Alimentarium
An average Swiss has six meals a day like these
All the food that an average Swiss would consume in a week, 100 years ago and now
Mock supermarket to learn about the science behind supermarket
Flying supermarket trolleys
Inside the Nestle room in the Alimentarium
Lesson going on in the Nestle room
Cupboards filled with antique Nestle products
Maggi from the 1890s
Maggi sauce which still can be found in many homes today
Maggi cube from 1895
Julius Maggi, the founder of Maggi which was later acquired by Nestle
Nescafe and Nestea of yesteryears
Nescafe from 1938
Dr Max Morgenthaler, the Nestle chemist who invented Nescafe
The origin Nestle logo at the top with three birds and the one now with two birds
Before Macintosh, there was Mackintosh’s
The original MILO!
More Nestle products from yesteryears
Old Milkmaid tin – takeaway coffee from neighbourhood coffeeshops in Singapore used to be packed in these
Assorted Nestle food stuff of old
Interactive exhibits for guests to learn about food and nutrition
A visit to Le Maison Cailler was like a visit to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory in real life. You can take a train there for the full experience; we were driven there comfortably by the Nestlé team.
Jumpshot in front of Le Maison Callier
Cargo train sending out the chocolate from the Callier factory
The Nestle train goes here
Le Maison Callier
A new service from Callier where you can order customised chocolate based on your personality
The building is shaped like a hazelnut
Chocolate of different colour moods
A big M
You must be wondering what Cailler got to do with Nestlé. Well, Nestlé owns Cailler, a premium chocolate brand in Switzerland. It is not available in Singapore and the South-East Asia region which explains why we are not familiar with the brand.
A brief history of Cailler via the Nestlé corporate site:
The founder of Callier
François-Louis Cailler was born in 1796 in Vevey, Switzerland. In 1819 he bought a small company that sold chocolate. In 1825, he began to make chocolate in Corsier, an industrial area of Vevey. In 1832, he built his first big factory in the same town. He later built a second. When François-Louis Cailler died in 1852, two of his sons took over the company and bought a new factory in Vevey. In 1898, François-Louis Cailler’s grandson, Alexandre-Louis, built a chocolate factory in Broc, in the milk producing region of Gruyère. The business merged with the chocolate makers Peter and Kohler in 1911. In 1929, the company was bought by Nestlé. Today, the Cailler brand continues to produce chocolate at the factory in Broc according to the traditional recipes of its founder.
Posters through the age
Same poster with different logos
Wall of assorted chocolate posters
Le Maison Callier features an interactive multimedia tour on the history of chocolate, weaving the history of Callier and Nestle into the storyline. The tour is available in different languages. We went for the English one.
This part of the tour is the one that seems to to come right out of the Willy Wonka story book by Roald Dahl:
Origin of the Cocoa Bean
Inside of a cargo ship
Chocolate reaches Europe
Chocolate survived the war
How Callier ended up in Vevey
Mr Henri Nestle
Chocolate were delivered on bicycles in the past
Heavy machinery to manufacture chocolate
Old Callier stuff
Similarity between Nestle and Callier
Products with old Nestle logos
Cheesy TV commercial on Callier from yesteryears
Callier in Vevey
There is free chocolate sampling at the end of the tour… heavenly for chocolate lovers like me.
The knowledge of chocolate
I took some to munch
Another kind of cocoa beans
Finer cocoa beans
Viewing the beans under a microscope
Conveyor belt production line
Small bits of chocolate moving along
The chocolate production process
Chocolate fresh off the conveyor belt
Little bits of chocolate rolling out
I tried all three colours
Eat a piece of chocolate fresh off the conveyor belt – Done
Another part of the factory
For you, when is it time for chocolate?
Writing down our answers
My answer, as inspired by PSY
Free sampling of all the chocolate under the Callier brand
The tasting table
Different shapes and sizes
Dark chocolate! I love these
Close-up of a fresh batch of chocolate
The Ambassador range
Dark version of the Ambassador range
I can’t remember how many of these chocolate bits I popped into my mouth! I just had to try all of them
If you like anything you tried, you can get them at the Callier gift shop on the way out:
Callier gift shop
Nice paper cut packaging
Assorted Callier chocolate bars
Small chocolate bars
Beautiful tin boxes only available at the Callier chocolate factory
Callier chocolate bar
There are some giant Callier bars outside Le Maison Callier, just beside the kids’ playground. The make for great photo opportunities:
Pretending to eat large chunk of Callier
The ladies striking a pose
Both the Alimentarium and Le Maison Callier ranks high among the top attractions to visit in Vevey and are definitely worth a visit. Both venues are also kids-friendly and educational, making them suitable for family outings. I would have brought my son there.
The visits left me with a deeper understanding of the Nestlé brand and its influence on the people in Vevey, then Switzerland and now, the world, as Nestlé expands into the large global food company it is today.
Stay tuned for my next update on visiting the Nestlé headquarters and meeting their global digital acceleration team. 🙂
Click here to read all my posts on visiting Switzerland with Nestlé.