|Born||9 October 1797|
|Died||14 January 1884 (aged 86)|
|Known for||Creator of Milka|
Philippe Suchard was born in 1797 in Boudry. Six years later he started as an apprentice in his brother Frédéric's Konditorei in Bern. In 1824 he left Switzerland to visit the United States, writing a book about his experiences. At the end of the year he returned and opened a confectioner's business in Neuchâtel.
In 1826, Suchard opened the factory of Chocolat Suchard in Serrières, Neuchâtel. He used hydropower of the nearby river to run the mills in his two-man factory. Suchard used a grinding mill consisting of a heated granite plate, and several granite rollers moving forwards and backwards. This design is still used to grind cocoa paste.
Chocolate was not cheap or a product for everybody. Suchard struggled financially early in his career as a chocolatier. His success came in 1842, with a bulk order from Frederick William IV, king of Prussia, who was also the prince of Neuchâtel. This triggered a boom and soon his chocolates won prizes at the London Great Exhibition of 1851 and the Paris Universal Exposition of 1855. By the end of the 19th century, Suchard had become the largest chocolate producer.
Suchard was not only a chocolatier but also had interest in other areas. In 1834 he introduced and captained the first steamer, Industriel, on Lake Neuchâtel. His interest in managing river water and controlling floods led to the sinking of the water level in Lake Neuchâtel. The lowered lake shoreline revealed the Celtic settlement of La Tène dating back to around 450 BC.
He also tried introducing silkworm culture in Switzerland in 1837, but the silkworms were destroyed during an epidemic in 1843. As a result of his travels in the Middle East, he had an addition to his home built, topping it with minarets.
After Philippe's death in 1884 in Neuchâtel, his daughter Eugénie Suchard and her husband Karl Russ-Suchard, took over the functioning of his factory. Carl Russ-Suchard opened the first Suchard factory abroad in 1880 in Lörrach, Germany.
In 1901, the company introduced the famous Milka chocolate for the Swiss market. Carl Russ-Suchard combined an unusual purple packaging with a cow symbolizing their use of milk. Nearly a century later, a survey in the 1990s reported that more than half the children in German preschools believed that cows were purple.
In 1970, Suchard and Tobler combined to form Interfood. In 1982, Interfood was acquired by Klaus Johann Jacobs, and became part of the company Jacobs Suchard. In 1987, the Suchard company acquired 66% of the shares of the Côte d'Or chocolate company. In 1990, Philip Morris announced that they would buy Jacobs Suchard. In 1993, Philip Morris combined Kraft General Foods Europe and Jacobs Suchard AG, renaming it Kraft Jacobs Suchard. It spun off its chocolate and confectionery brands as Mondelez International as of 2012. The Suchard factory in the Serrières Valley is no longer used for production. Mondelez moved production to the Toblerone factory in Bern in the 1990s. In 2015, Mondelez opened a new production line for Milka and Suchard chocolates at its plant in Bludenz, Austria.
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