Switzerland is known for many things: alps, banks, cheese, knives, neutrality… and chocolate! That last one may be my favorite. Although I have eaten plenty of Swiss chocolate since moving here, I hadn’t visited any of the chocolate factories. In July, that changed! Along with my friend Anu and her daughter N, G and I went to the Chocolat Frey factory in Buchs.
You can’t tour the actual factory (darn health and safety regulations), but you can do the Schokoladenmomente (Chocolate Moments) tour, which walks you through the chocolate making process. Or you can take it one step further and participate in a Schoggi-Giessen (chocolate molding class).
Do you even need to ask which one we did?!
The tour on its own is fairly inexpensive; the chocolate molding class is CHF 19 for children and CHF 24 for adults and includes admission to the tour. And it is totally worth the extra cost.
We packed lunches and ate outside in the sun before heading in to get our chocolatier on. There is a cafe on site, but the offerings aren’t that exciting. I definitely recommend eating beforehand or bringing your own food.
Once you’re in the class, you meet your instructor. The class is primarily taught in German, but as with most tourist-friendly places in Switzerland, the staff knows a good amount of English as well. We were able to follow along without issue.
Each student gets to make two chocolate bars using two different methods. (I suppose you could make both bars using the same method, but I don’t think that would be as much fun!) There are three kinds of chocolate available: milk (the most common chocolate in Switzerland), white, and dark. There are also a ton of toppings available.
Our first bar was swirled with two kinds of chocolate.
G with her swirled chocolate bar, waiting for toppings.
The second method allows you to pick a topping or two to actually mix into your chocolate. You put your toppings of choice in the bowl, get a healthy dose of chocolate poured on top, and mix away!
After your chocolate bars are in the mold, you can decorate them with extra toppings or some chocolate in piping bags.
Once your chocolate bars are complete, it takes about 40 minutes for them to cure. This gives you the perfect opportunity to take the Chocolate Moments tour!
Each guest is given a pair of headphones and a small device. The staff programs in your requested language and you head on in. Rather than a tour given by a live guide, there are various screens set up throughout the tour and you point your device at the screen and click your button to activate the narrative.
The tour takes you through the whole chocolate-making process, from sourcing and shipping the cocoa beans all the way to packaging. I will fully admit that I didn’t learn as much as I would have liked because G wasn’t entirely interested in so much listening, which meant that I wasn’t able to do so much listening.
Periodically, everything stops. The lights dim, music starts playing, and video is projected on all of the walls. The video shows actual footage from the factory floor. It is your Chocolate Moment.
So we headed downstairs, which was way more interactive (and therefore child-friendly).
(I did not buy a cocoa pod hat to bring home.)
The photo booth didn’t print the pictures; they were emailed to you. Eco-friendly!
You could also take a chocolate personality test. Options include The Chocoholic, The Curious, The Gourmet, and The Stylish. I got The Gourmet, which indicates that I like dark chocolate (true). It also gives you a recipe for a dessert that your personality type should like. In this case, I got chocolate tartlets. I haven’t made them yet, but they do look delicious.
All those activities were around the perimeter of the room. What was in the middle?
Heaven, basically. If only one of the chocolate fountains had been dark. Didn’t they pay attention to my personality test?!
After playing and eating our fill of free chocolate, we headed back upstairs to collect our candy bars.
Which might be why she was less-than-thrilled when I asked her to take this picture in front of the Frey logo.
After finishing designing our boxes, we grabbed a non-chocolate snack from the cafe and some souvenir postcards from the gift shop. Hopefully they all made it to the US! (We’ve experienced some pretty ridiculous delays in getting mail from CH to the US.) There’s also a small playground located outside of the cafe; we let the girls run and play a bit so they wouldn’t be too wound up in the car.
All in all, the Frey tour was tons of fun. Definitely worth the drive and the cost of admission. If you’re going, I would go all in and do the chocolate molding class along with the tour. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!