Burlingame, CA – Family-owned Guittard Chocolate Company is proud to announce that 2018 marks the company’s 150th year making chocolate. Guittard will commemorate this milestone throughout the year and across the country with celebrations and pop-up events, collaborations, and the unveiling of a limited edition 150th anniversary chocolate blend for chefs.
In addition to honoring the farmers, workers, retailers and chefs who have supported Guittard throughout the years, Guittard will also bring its 150th anniversary to the people through a series of consumer events, historical society and restaurant partnerships, industry leadership and new products. A limited edition chocolate, Eureka Works 62%, will be introduced in the Spring and is a tribute to where Guittard began and is made with beans sourced from the same locations available to founder Etienne Guittard: South America, Indonesia and Samoa. The resulting chocolate demonstrates the West Coast flavor profile and reflects sourcing along the Pacific trade routes that has impacted the evolution of California-made chocolate.
The 150 years of Guittard serves as a snapshot of California food and commerce history from its start as a manufacturer and merchant during the Gold Rush to its position today as a chocolate industry leader and innovator.
Etienne Guittard opened Guittard Chocolate Company during the Gold Rush in 1868 where he sold provisions such as chocolate, coffee, tea and spices. The business quickly grew to become an integral part of San Francisco’s burgeoning manufacturing community. Later, his son Horace C. rebuilt the company after the Great Quake of 1906 destroyed the factory and much of San Francisco.
During the mid-1950s, the third generation, led by Horace A., moved the company just south of San Francisco to Burlingame in order to make way for the building of the Embarcadero Freeway. He led the growth of the Guittard over the next decades, balancing automation with artisanship to produce chocolate for a growing number of industrial and consumer retail customers.
The fourth generation of the Guittard family, brothers Jay and Gary, joined their father in the 1970s where they shared an office. Jay succeeded Horace A. as president in the mid-80s. In 1989, due to the untimely deaths of Horace A. and Jay, Gary became CEO and chocolate-maker.
Under Gary’s leadership, and with the steadfast support of long time employees, Guittard thrived, working in partnership with loyal customers, and developing new products for industry, professional chefs and the home baker. In the late 90s, he recognized Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker’s success as well as customers’ shifting taste preferences and interest in the production process. He seized the opportunity this presented and in 2000, introduced the Collection Etienne line of eating and baking chocolate made with fine flavor beans using vintage methods originally employed by Etienne.
Gary and his team at Guittard have long passionately advocated for preserving and elevating the quality of chocolate through their work with the World Cocoa Foundation and Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative. He sounded the alarm in 2007 with a grassroots group and petition called, “Don’t Mess with Our Chocolate,” when it became apparent that industrial confectioners were lobbying the FDA to replace cocoa butter with cheaper fats and still call the resulting product, “chocolate.” The petition made international news, rallied opposing forces and succeeded in its mission. The FDA now states that only chocolate made with cocoa butter and no other fats may be labeled “chocolate.”
Today, Guittard leads the industry in its sourcing and sustainability efforts. From sourcing Fair Trade and organic cacao, to transitioning from soy to non-GMO sunflower lecithin, to eliminating artificial and synthetic colors to satisfy consumer demand. Cultivate Better™, introduced by Guittard in 2016, defines the company’s commitment to honorable sourcing. Cultivate Better™ is an ongoing journey to grow and learn, to improve farmers’ livelihoods, and build relationships that foster better business. Guittard brings that commitment to markets around the world, distributing the brand throughout the UK, EU, Asia, South Asia and the Middle East.
As the oldest continuously family-owned and operated chocolate company in the United States, Guittard Chocolate Company, under the fourth and fifth generation of family management, continues to grow with the same innovative spirit and commitment to sustainability that has made it one of the world’s most respected makers of premium chocolate over the past 150 years.
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