Class of 2008
Born in 1855, the son of a pharmacist, Rodolphe became one of the 19th century’s most popular chocolate makers, founding a chocolate factory in Bern, Switzerland in 1879.
At that time, chocolate was a very different product from today — generally gritty and often bitter. Rodolphe started experimenting with how to mix product ingredients and is said to have used old machines he bought from a bankrupt spice mill.
Legend has it that he left a mixing machine on overnight and found later that the extended period of mixing had dramatically affected the chocolate.
Experimenting further, he found grinding the ingredients to introduce mechanical friction and heat imparted a delicate flavor, reduced bitterness and a lower melting point.
He subsequently developed a special grinding machine with a long, shell-like, bath-shaped tank, which resembled a conch shell, and his new “conche” machine changed the face of the chocolate business forever.
His new “melting chocolate” was such a success, and Rodolphe was unable to keep up with increasing demand so he sold his company and the secret of the conching process to Zurich chocolate entrepreneur Rudolf Sprungli in 1899.
Rodolphe and his relatives, August and Walter Lindt, continued their involvement in the Bern location and eventually retired from the company in 1905.
Rodolphe died in 1909, and today the company which bears his name, Lindt & Sprungli AG, still develops recipes using his secret conching process.
The company, a global leader in the confectionery industry, has since developed its own innovative chocolate manufacturing processes, including the Lindt & Sprungli Chocolate Process in 1972. Described as the most significant improvement to chocolate manufacturing since the invention of the conche, the LSCP is said to ensure the quality of chocolate while requiring less energy and space than dozens of conches.