Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,must have had Godiva chocolate in mind when he said, “Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.” His fond tribute to chocolate in all its guises resembles the Draps family’s love of fantasy, bringing joy to others, and creating chocolate dreams. The company, founded in Brussels, Belgium in 1926 by Pierre Draps, is still vibrant today and a major force in the world of chocolate.
In February of 2016, Godiva fêted its 90th anniversary in Brussels and paid homage to the Draps family’s heritage and legacy. They have been steadfast in their respect for tradition and quality and yet have been at the forefront of innovation in chocolate. This ethos is the raison d’être for the entire company and the driving force behind the team of five inspired Belgian-trained chef chocolatiers that develop and create every product.
One Man’s Dream
Belgian pralines are adored around the world for their molded chocolate shells and heavenly fillings (either soft or liquid). Hundreds of tempting combinations are created and chocolate lovers never seem to tire of trying each one. White, milk, and dark chocolate can come in a variety of designs and are filled with anything from chocolate ganache to nuts, caramel, coffee, liqueur, or fruit.
This delectable bonbon has been handmade since the latter part of the 19th century, and around 1912 people began buying them as gifts in beautifully decorated ballotins, or boxes. When Godiva first started, Pierre Draps along with his sons Joseph, Francois, and Pierre, Jr., hand-made every praline in their home and sold, packed, and delivered them to luxury department stores all across Brussels.
A Legend of Boldness and Generosity
The superior quality of their pralines were renowned, and soon they grew from a small atelier in the Draps home to their first boutique. To distinguish his shop from other chocolatiers, Pierre Draps chose the name Godiva because according to the family legend, “he was inspired by the passion, boldness, and generosity of Lady Godiva from the old English legend.” Their lovely flagship store opened on historic Grande Place and it still charms guests with its jewel box displays and windows filled with chocolate covered strawberries.
Despite its diminutive size, this tiny store set the standard by which all other Godiva shops are measured anywhere in the world. Its marble counters, smooth wood shelves, and display cases filled with a rainbow of foil and varying hues of chocolate are as fetching today as they were decades ago. Each shop has a bit of Old World charm and childish whimsy that invites you to enter and breathe deeply. Decades of happy customers have left these shops, gold box in hand, and walked away with a smile knowing that delicious diversion is not far behind. This classic box is as much a part of the company’s past as it is its future. It is an iconic symbol of Godiva’s luxury, rarity, and skilled artisanship recognized around the globe.
A Golden Past and Future
An anniversary celebration would be incomplete without a new chocolate collection, or two, and a few sweets to tempt the palate. To add modern flair, Godiva commissioned Belgian artist Oli-B to design a special chocolate box for a new anniversary collection and then the chocolatiers set about filling it with delightful chocolates.
Young Belgian artist Oli-B is a visionary with an eye for color and he created a new design for the classic gold box that reflects his bold work and intuitive use of abstract shapes and collages. His design for the box is a cheerful, but elegant splash of fluid, geometric and curvilinear shapes in primary colors and pastels, which in many ways complement the colors of the ingredients found in Godiva chocolates. Oli-B described the design process this way, “It has been a pleasure and a great challenge to introduce my art to Godiva’s iconic aesthetic. My inspiration across our entire collaboration was joy and celebration – and nothing encompasses that better than the colorful, energetic firework!”
The Golden Anniversary Collection
This Golden Anniversary Collection comes in the beautiful gold box accented with Oli-B’s enchanting design and is a limited edition collection that reflects Godiva’s dedication to innovation and artistry. It is an 18-piece gift box filled with eight classic chocolates, and the special chocolate, the Egérie Noir, created just for the anniversary. “We’re excited to celebrate 90 years of craftsmanship, passion and innovation with the Gold Anniversary Collection. It’s truly a representation of how Godiva’s chocolate has evolved over the past 90 years while staying true to our core values and heritage,” explains Michelle Chin, Head of North America Marketing & Product Development.
The Egérie Noir
Although the anniversary celebration was held in February, Egérie Noir wasn’t for sale to the public until April and it was released under seal of secrecy at the gala held in Brussels. In French, égérie means muse, and for this collection the colors, aromas, and flavors of rose and raspberries were the inspiration, flavor motif found in other anniversary-related products. Shaped like a signet ring, and imprinted with the Godiva logo, the Egérie Noir is made with rich, dark chocolate and filled with a smooth raspberry ganache infused with the essence of rose petals.
Godiva Anniversary Treats
You say biscuit, I say cookie, whatever they are called the anniversary collection of rich buttery cookies, either dipped or coated with chocolate, come in lovely pale blue tins and boxes decorated with Oli-B’s distinctive anniversary design. Not your style? Maybe the summertime heat has you craving a cold, sweet, frozen drink? If so, go here to find a shop near you that serves them and sink into the pleasure of a Rose & Raspberry Chocolixir made with white chocolate blended with rose and raspberry sauce, crushed ice, and crisp raspberry pieces. If you want to go rich, might we suggest the new Rose & Raspberry Soft Serve? Yes, that’s right. Godiva now makes decadent frozen custard that is a Swirl of vanilla bean and dark chocolate with raspberry and caramel sauce in a cone rimmed with melted chocolate covered with raspberry crisps.
Producing chocolates made by hand is a true labor of love and achieving the status of chef chocolatier at Godiva can be the pinnacle of a chocolate and pastry career. Nevertheless, producing original chocolates is more than skill or talent, the chefs must understand their customer, have sensitive, refined palates, and understand the blending of flavors, colors, textures, and tastes. “Godiva has chefs based all over the world – from Asia to Europe to North America – and each of Godiva’s chocolates reflects the different personalities of the team of chefs responsible for their creation. Our chocolates tell different stories and each has its own personality and gastronomical heritage – I believe it is this shared passion for chocolate that differentiates Godiva from the rest” - Chef IlseWilmots