Thursday, January 26, 2012

There Can Be Too Much Swiss Chocolate!?

My annual trip home to the U.S. always means stuffing a suitcase with souvenirs from Europe for my family and friends. But after 12+ years of living in Germany and Switzerland, I have to admit my ideas are becoming stale. I’ve already exported the gamut of Swiss chocolate, including chocolate fondue (which I’m not sure is truly Swiss: or is it just catering to tourists’ fantasies about Switzerland?). I’ve also brought cheese, including fondue; t-shirts and baseball caps adorned with cows; cowbells; and even cuckoo clock kitch (also not actually Swiss, but pandering to the Swiss fantasies of tourists).

Say what you will, but I'll bet this is not a souvenir you've already received a dozen times over. In fact, I purchased a dozen of them just because I was so excited to have found something different. Really different.

The more global our shopping experiences become (you can get delicious Swiss and German goodies in your local Wegman's), the harder it is to surprise and delight, I might add. There's nothing like dragging around luggage heavy with Toberlone just to find that while you were gone, it's become a resident of the shelves at your nearest supermarket. Sometimes Swiss things, such as Sigg cups, even cost less in the U.S. than in the producer country Switzerland! (It's a pretty expensive place to live, all right.)  

For novelty, I’ve also schlepped home items as diverse as fizzy candy (Brausepulver), local beer and mayonnaise in an aluminum tube... even mayonnaise swirled with ketchup in an aluminum tube, resembling Aquafresh! The latter is just for a laugh, as my fellow citizens generally know mayonnaise as inhabiting jars only – never a container resembling toothpaste.

I’ve even transported bottles of Moewenpick salad dressing, as several of my U.S. visitors have deemed it exquisite. This seems odd because an average American grocery store contains a salad dressing aisle roughly the size of the Freie Strasse, the main shopping street in Basel. Yet my loved ones find Moewenpick salad dressing to be superior to any specimen from that massive selection back home. It's odd, but I indulge them.

But now, perhaps you experienced international folks have some ideas to share on something to bring back home? It might be something special, something local, something embodying Swissness? (If it's tiny and light and unbreakable while in the luggage, that would be a huge bonus.) Or anyone out there who's on the homefront, what could an expat such as myself bring you that would make you happy? I declare, I have schlepped my last bar of Toblerone.

You used to seem so special, Toblerone. Then you were bought by Kraft. And then you just jumped right in with the Hershey's and Milky Ways at the supermarket. Don't ever change your mountain-shaped bite sizes or you'll really become just a plain old candy bar.


  1. First off... there can never be enough swiss chocolate I think. I love sending packages with swiss/german chocolate to my overseas friends and generally stick to: Rittersport mini, ferrero rocher and "küsschen". Add a bar of dark lind-chocolate and have happy friends on the other side of the world.

    Oh and btw, I had a reversed "trauma" after shlepping tons of my beloved oreo-cookies to germany. Only to realize they had just begun selling them here. Oreo galore ensued.

  2. I adore Scheisser chocolate. The whisky truffles are divine! They are so rich (both monetarily & taste-bud wise) that I only get 100 gr for one family. I think that costs about 10 SFr but might be outdated. It will be the best chocolate they've ever had in their lives and they will be happy for you to visit again if you take some of it with you. Also the slabs of chocolate with nuts in it can't be had outside of CH, I think. Again, less is ok cuz it's so expensive. The little candy/chocolate shop next to Scheisser does a good hazelnut chocolate slab.

    And just so you know, we always make sure at least 5 tubes of Thomy Light Mayo fill our suitcases every time we visit!

    1. I agree. Whisky truffres from Shiesser. Also anything from Brändli will usually make it back in your suitcase in good condition. The Shoggi Mandle are the best for traveling. But they also make lovely homemade Branche and gelées. Also Gilgen has taken over the production of "Römersaule", almost as good as the ones that Bücheli used to make. But Bücheli sold the name but not the recipes.
      Shall I take you on my tour?

  3. I love Toblerone, too, but it has lost all exoticness, as have my beloved Ritter Sport bars. I wish I had some advice but go through the same conundrum. Take them some Volksmusik.