They are the symbol of Easter in Switzerland. But the golden Lindt bunnies aren’t Swiss. As revelations go, this one is up there with Heidi was German and Switzerland isn’t neutral in terms of shock factor. How can those cute little gold-wrapped bunnies not be Swiss? They are made by Lindt & Sprüngli, one of the oldest and most famous chocolate makers in Switzerland. Except they are made by Lindt & Sprüngli in Germany.
I discovered this thanks to a friend from Helvetic LA, who bought a Lindt bunny in Los Angeles, only to find it was made in Germany. Fair enough, I thought, as that’s an export market. But surely the ones in Switzerland would be made here? Wrong. All the ones in the supermarkets in Bern are made in Germany, although you have to have good eyesight to discover that.
On the back of the bunny the ingredients are listed in German, French and Dutch but down at the bottom are the magic words: Fabriqué par / Geproduceerd door: Lindt & Sprüngli GmbH (Allemagne/Duitsland) D-52072 Aachen. Funny that they don’t write that in German, given that they are sold in Germany. Obviously they don’t want to have that anywhere for fear of scaring canny Swiss consumers – even though most of them can understand the French anyway!
To reassure anyone who does cotton on to the fact that their bunny isn’t Swiss, there are the words ‘Garantie de Qualité Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli Kilchberg/Suisse’. And on the bottom, beside the bar code, it also mentions Lindt & Sprüngli in Switzerland but only with the words ‘Vertrieb durch’ or ‘Distributed by’. In other words, Lindt in Switzerland is the distributor for the German Lindt products.
At a time when the new Swissness proposals are being debated in the Federal Parliament, it’s interesting to see that this Swiss icon isn’t Swiss at all. I checked the shelves and Lindt & Sprüngli very carefully mark their chocolate bars with SWISS MADE where it applies (so the bunny doesn’t get that stamp of approval). But the new rules might change that. The proposal is for foodstuffs to have the Swiss Made stamp only if 80% of their ingredients are Swiss, unless they include things that cannot possibly be Swiss because they aren’t grown here. While that would cover cocoa, much of Swiss chocolate production relies on imported sugar rather than the home-grown variety. So the Lindt bunny might soon have some other non-Swiss chocolate friends.
Rodolphe Lindt must be turning in his grave. He opened his chocolate factory in his hometown of Bern in 1879 and developed the crucial process that makes chocolate as smooth as it is. Known as ‘conching’, it was allegedly discovered by accident when he left the chocolate mixture churning in the machine for three days. It made him a millionaire and he eventually sold his business to Sprüngli of Zurich.
How sad that they no longer make the bunnies here in Switzerland. I’ll be boycotting these rabbits this year. It seems ridiculous to buy one that has been made from German chocolate and transported hundreds of miles when there are enough other Easter bunnies made from real Swiss chocolate in the shops. Sorry Lindt – your bunnies might be all over your Swiss home page but they won’t be in my home this Easter.