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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
There is free chocolate sampling at the end of the tour… heavenly for chocolate lovers like me.
If you like anything you tried, you can get them at the Callier gift shop on the way out:
There are some giant Callier bars outside Le Maison Callier, just beside the kids’ playground. The make for great photo opportunities:
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. 🙂