Growing up in the USA, the candies of our childhood were Hershey’s Kisses, M&M’s, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Milk Duds and Three Musketeers. Who doesn’t feel the tug of nostalgia when remembering the “your chocolate’s in my peanut butter” line? We can all recall a few M&M commercials – even before the sexy characters of this decade. And Hershey’s Kisses are iconic. Last year I had the good fortune of visiting the M&M factory and watching one of my favorite childhood candies being made. It was pure delight!
On a recent visit to Norway I had the chance to watch favorite Norwegian candies being produced at the Nidar Chocolate Factory in Trondheim. Nidar’s motto – “Any nation with self-respect has its own chocolate factory and traditional chocolate products” – sums it up nicely. As I watched the candies on the production line the names on the wrappers were unfamiliar to me, but my Norwegian host, Lisbeth, was like a kid reminiscing about her favorite candies from her childhood. It occurred to me that our love of chocolate isn’t just about satisfying a sweet tooth – it’s a deeper nostalgic connection and it doesn’t matter what language you speak.
Nidar production manager, Anders Greiff, walked us through the sugar scented production rooms. Along the way we passed vats of chocolate and conveyor belts filled with treats like Stratos with its delicious chocolate bubbles, and other favorites like Smash!, Bergene Melk, and Troika. We happily accepted samples as we learned about the history and traditions of Nidar chocolates.
Since its founding in 1912, Nidar has created brands suited to the Norwegian market. Several of Nidar’s brands have been around for many years. Stratos is over 80 years old and Laban is nearly 50 years old.
Nidar produces about 200 varieties of products including chocolates, marzipan, jelly figures, caramels, licorice and pastilles. Many of these products were launched between WWI and WWII which was a period of great innovation for Norway.
Chocolates from Nidar are UTZ Certified which is similar to Fair Trade in the States signifying Nidar’s commitment to sustainable cocoa production and improving the conditions for the cocoa farmers.
The history and traditions of Nidar are artfully chronicled at an onsite museum. Director, Mr. Kjell Manum, has gathered artifacts from the early years of production and historic details of the company’s founding and progress. There’s even a delightful replica of an old-fashioned candy shop.
A visit to the Nidar Chocolate factory in Trondheim is a walk down memory lane for Norwegians. As for the rest of us, the chocolates may be unfamiliar but once you taste the Nidar brands, you’ll create your own new memories on an international scale! www.nidar.com