A quick trip to a famous chocolate factory is the perfect way to start the week. With a few hours to spare this morning, I decided to sweeten the day with a visit to the town of Waldenbuch. It’s only a 25 minute drive from Herrenberg.
Waldenbuch is a town in the Böblingen district of Baden Württemberg, Germany. It’s approximately 30 minutes by car from Stuttgart. This town is best known as the home base for the Ritter Sport Chocolate Factory.
- In 1912, Albert Eugene Ritter and his wife Clara Ritter made and sold the first Ritter chocolates in Stuttgart.
- They moved their expanding business to Waldenbuch in 1930.
- In 1932, Clara Ritter proposed the “Ritter Sport Chocolate.” Because chocolate bars kept breaking in people’s pockets, she introduced the square shaped bars that fit nicely into pockets of jackets. It weighs the same as a normal long bar of chocolate with the convenience of the square shape.
- Ritter Sport mini (100 g square) chocolates were introduced in 1982.
- In 2004, the smallest square, the chocolate cube was introduced.
- Organic chocolate varieties were introduced in 2008.
Through the years, Ritter Sport has added an art museum, a chocolate museum, and a café.
The chocolate shop and museum are on the right side of the building as you walk towards the bright outdoor area of the café. The chocolate museum is free to visitors and is located on the second floor, above the chocolate shop.
The chocolate museum is not very big but has a lot of interesting information, images, and chocolate bars developed by the company over the years. It also features the different varieties of cacao used in their chocolates and where they come from.
The Center for Sustainable Corporate Leadership or Zentrum für Nachaltige Unternehmensführung (ZNU) developed standards to measure a company’s sustainability. Ritter Sport fulfilled the requirements of the ZNU.
My favorite part is the Schoko Automat or Choco machine. All you have to do is press the flashing green button. The model factory shakes and releases a chocolate into a toy dump truck. The truck drives around the track and dumps the chocolate into the dispenser. It’s pretty entertaining to watch.
After visiting the chocolate museum, I walked down to the shop but unfortunately it was closed today due to the holiday. I’ve been to the chocolate shop a couple of times before. The store is filled with Ritter Sport chocolate bars of different flavors and sizes. There are also chocolates for different occasions such as Easter and Christmas, and special edition chocolates. Souvenirs of all kinds are also sold here such as shirts, bags, umbrellas, storage containers etc.
I walked to the art museum which is located on the left side of the building beside the cafè. It’s €6 for adults, and free for children. The artwork in this museum are simple but interesting. You can get an audio guide and choose the language you prefer. All you have to do is press the number that corresponds to your choice of artwork.
My favorite piece of art is the black and white diamond shaped object by Toni Costa (pic below). It’s titled Alternazione. The black and white patterns seem to change depending on where you stand. I swayed back and forth and I loved the way it moved with me. I stopped after a few curious glances from other visitors, but it was fun. Below is the picture of the artwork. It’s only one object taken from different positions.
I also had fun with the object below. I liked looking into the hole to view the object across the room and try to focus it in the center. I looked from both sides and picked this one.
I ended my visit by sitting outside the café and enjoying lunch under the bright blue skies. The Ritter-Sport Café is famous for its hot chocolate. Imagine your favorite chocolate in a cup mixed with creamy steamed milk. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it. I chose the panini with salad and the mousse au chocolat. The salad was light and the panini was delicious. And the best hot chocolate award goes to… drumroll please… Ritter Sport Café!
As I headed back to my car, I saw a lovely couple sitting on a bench underneath streams of different colored lights, reflecting down from the ceiling. What a nice image to end the visit!
A few tips:
- Bring cash. The café doesn’t take credit cards.
- The chocolate shop is closed during holidays but the art museum, café, and chocolate museum are open for business.
- The art museum charges €6 for adults. They give a discount for students and groups of 10 or more. Kids are free.
- Bring a bag for the chocolates you plan on buying. You can purchase a plastic bag at the checkout counter for €1 or more.
- The chocolates are reasonably priced but the souvenirs are a little expensive.
- There are chocolates sold in bulk located in the back of the store if you want to save a few euros.
- They have parking available for visitors.
- It’s worth the visit if you have a few hours to spare.
The more I walked around the grounds of Ritter Sport, the more I liked the company and their chocolates. The chocolate museum provided a lot of good information on the history, business practice and quality of their products. The café served the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted. The art museum made me feel like a kid full of wonder with its simple but fun and interesting works of art.
For more info: https://www.ritter-sport.de/en/Visit-RITTER-SPORT/