Poland can brag with multiple house brands of chocolate, but the first one was Wedel. It still stands as the most common name in the country and there are some places in which you can feel like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. Let me take you on a tour to the Polish kingdom of chocolate - Wedel.
The origins of the brand date back to 1851, when Karl Wedel opened a small confectionery shop in Warsaw to sell cream candies. Soon after, he expanded his business and started a new chocolate factory by Szpitalna Street, close to the present center of Warsaw. By the end of the 1870s, Karl gifted the company to his son, Emil, on the occasion of his wedding. It was him who created the Wedel logo, that we can still see today on their products. It is comprised of nicely calligraphed 'E. Wedel'. Another symbol of the company was created in 1926 by an Italian designer, Leonetto Cappiello. It is a red-dressed boy, riding on a zebra and holding a big stack of chocolate bars over his head. Up until today, the composition is used in many advertisements.
As the company grew, there was a need for more space. During the interwar times, the manufacture moved to the right side of the Vistula River, where it is still located today. Wedel was very innovative as for its times - the company built a good social security system for its employees. The owners created some facilities for the factory workers, such as a nursery, a clinic, and a cantine. Moreover, they introduced one of the first vending machines for distributing sweets around Warsaw. The brand became vastly popular in Central and Eastern Europe, but during the times of the greatest prosperity, Wedel had its shops in London and Paris and even exported to Japan.
Today, the factory is closed for public visiting but, if you are lucky, you might have a chance to see its interiors during some exceptional openings, for example, during the Museum Night in Warsaw.
One of the most popular cafes where you can try Wedel's goods is located on Szpitalna Street. This vintage-style shop is decorated with the portraits of the patrons of the company. Enteting, you will feel like being brought back to the original shop of Wedel, filled with the sweet smell of chocolate. It is the best place to have a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day in the Polish capital. The cafe also offers a great variety of meals and beverages. It might be a good breakfast idea, as they serve freshly-baked croissants accompanied by honey and chocolate. If you are more of a salty-breakfast kind of person, there will surely be also something for you.
One of the most recognizable products of Wedel is 'Ptasie mleczko' - a box of cream-taste marshmallows covered in chocolate. Another flagship sweet they offer is called 'Torcik wedlowski'. It is a round wafer cake with chocolate filling, again covered in dark chocolate and painted with handmade ornaments. If you feel like having plain chocolate, you can try some bars that have various fillings - especially the 'Pawełek' that is flavored with a small amount of alcohol.
If you are wondering what a nice souvenir from Poland might be, some goods from Wedel are always a good idea. While wandering around the streets of the old towns, you will surely stumble upon some of the brand's shops and cafes. When you like to discover the country by its tastes, visiting the Polish kingdom of chocolate will be a good place to start.
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