Located in the middle of a sleepy Schwarzwalden hamlet is this very decayed chocolate factory.
Around 1890, a former head chef to the Prince Albert of Monaco had a sailboat accident and could no longer practice his profession. Returning to Germany, he became a vegetarian and opened a health food store in Karlsruhe in 1899. For the next two decades, he expanded the business while received patents for new cooking processes and releasing vegetarian cookbooks. In 1921, he built the factory shown the photos below.
In 1926, his son Ralf took over the business and in 1935 expanded into the production of chocolate and confectionery along side the health food business, producing such things as patties, vegetable sausage, vegetable soups, bread, Schrotzwieback, junk bread, puffed rice chocolate, puffing sticks, natural drinks, yoghurt chocolate and pralines, various fruit pastes, fruit jelly, full-fruit noble dishes, reform soup soups, reform pasta, Almond preparations, hazelnut sauce. Peanut sauce, honey sweetmeats, pudding powder, nutrient salt cocoa, reforming kidney flour, reform gingerbread, raw cane sugar candies, raw cane sugar hats, beet syrup, undyed jam, VDR chocolate and much more. In 1952, a fine chocolates brand was registered to the address.
At its peak, 90 people were working at the factory producing chocolate products for the German market but over time the business became less profitable. Ralf died in 1991, and the factory closed in 1992. Ownership of the site and significant debts was transferred to his daughter, who then later died in 2005. The company was de-registered in 2016 and the site fore-closed. At auction in January 2018, part of the site was sold to an architect for €108,000 – the future of the site is unknown.
Visiting with a fellow explorer, we walked through the forest and into the site, amazed at all the equipment left behind to rot. Old moulds, wrappers, stamps and other items were laying about and surprisingly, no signs of graffiti or vandalism. A calendar from 1997 is the most recent item found on the site, even though it apparently closed in 1992. Parts of the building have collapsed but by and large, the factory was accessible and is perhaps one of my favourite explores to date.