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Swiss history: What’s the real story behind Toblerone’s chocolate pyramids?

A 108-year-old mystery surrounds one of Switzerland's best-known products: the Toblerone chocolate.

Swiss history: What's the real story behind Toblerone's chocolate pyramids?
Mystery surrounds Toblerone chocolate. Photo: Getty Images via AFP

Have you ever wondered why this famous chocolate is so different in shape from the other chocolate bars?

Many people have, but the answer to this question remains elusive to this day.

This is what we know about Toblerone's beginning: by the time the Bernese confectioner Theodor Tobler created the eponymous bar in 1908, chocolate-making was already an established industry in Switzerland.

But the bars produced by other companies had more or less the same flat, rectangular form. So what prompted Tobler to create the unique recipe consisting of milk chocolate, nougat, almonds and honey, and shape it like a series of pyramids, or triangles?

This is where the mystery begins.

One, more politically-correct version, has it that Toblerone's shape represents the mountains of Switzerland, and more specifically the Matterhorn, as depicted on the package.

So it is easy to accept that Alpine peaks have inspired Tobler to create the distinct triangular shape.

But wait. There is another theory afoot, which is certainly more intriguing than the previous one.

According to this version, it wasn't so much the Matterhorn that had impressed Tobler but, rather, a show at the Folies Bergère – a music hall in Paris, where the dancers formed a giant, human pyramid for the finale. 

Now, we will never know for sure which version is the true one, so this mystery will likely remain unsolved.

What is known, however, is that the word 'Toblerone' made history not just in the realm of chocolate, but also in national protection: in Switzerland, a series of concrete, anti-tank defenses at the western border has been dubbed 'The Toblerone Line'.

READ MORE: Did you know? Switzerland's flag was 'born' on a battlefield 

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