Unbeknownst to most, the Gianduitto is not just a delicious hazelnut and chocolate treat but a sweet, iconic symbol of Turin, a region in Italy that has been famous for making chocolate for almost 500 years.
Cocoa takes a central role historically for the old Italian capital. With the move of the Ducal Capital from Chambéry to Turin, Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy offered a symbolic cup of piping hot chocolate to the city. It was only time until this popular drink was likely to receive some Italian flare, in the form of coffee, of course. The celebrated combination of espresso, cacao, and milk cream, known as the Bicerin, was first conceived in the 1700s and is Turin's official city drink.
Turin chocolatiers produced 350 kilograms of chocolate per day by the year 1806, when Napoleon prohibited trade between the British and countries subject to the French Government. Turin chocolate industry businessmen worked together to overcome this limit on trade by building a machine that produced the first chocolate bars filled with fruit and nuts. The Italian-born success and worldwide replication needs no further discussion. But, this spirit of innovation continued, and 50 years later collaboration within the Italian-city states led Italian chocolatiers to add paste made from the Tonda Gentile Hazelnut of Langhe to their products.
Originally called the 'Givo' or cigar butt, the new chocolate made a statement at the Turin Fair in 1869. It was celebrated by chocolatier Michele Prochet, who famously wore a traditional Gianduja mask, typical of the Piedmont tradition. As it gained popularity, the Givo 1865 adopted the name Gianduiotto. Today each chocolate is still individually wrapped in gold foil with the depiction of the famous Gianduja mask.
The Turin region is home to world renown chocolate-making families and factories including Peyrano, Baratti & Milano, Streglio, Feletti, Caffarel, Stratta and, above all, Giordano, the only producer today that still hand-cuts its famous chocolate with a knife.
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