Domenico Ghirardelli is the creator and founder of Ghirardelli, a world-famous chocolate manufacturer founded in San Francisco in 1852, but the journey to San Francisco and becoming world-renowned was an eventful and often troubled one.
Domenico was born into chocolate, as his father was an Italian chocolatier and exotic food importer. The young Domenico made his first foray into the world of the candy business when he was apprenticed to a candy maker while still a child.
After spending years studying the ins and outs of the candy business as an apprentice, the 20-year-old Domenico set sail for Uruguay with his wife, where he would work in the coffee and chocolate business. It was a short stint that lasted just 12 months before he made his way to Peru to open his own store.
While working in his established business in Peru, news of the gold rush in America caused Domenico to rethink his strategy. Deciding to take his chances, he decided to move to California and open a store in Stockton. He enjoyed some success, so it wasn't long before he created a second store in 1851, this time in San Francisco.
In 1851, disaster struck, and both businesses went down in flames within a few days of each other. Domenico used his dwindling resources to open yet another business in San Francisco, this time selling coffee. Sadly, this stint in the coffee industry did not enjoy the same level of success as his previous ventures.
Unperturbed, Domenico set his sights on chocolate once again and finally created the business that would grow into the globe-spanning Ghirardelli Chocolate Co. In 1852, the company was incorporated and has been tempting chocolate lovers everywhere with its innovative flavors ever since.
That first factory is now a landmark in San Francisco, where it has transformed into an urban mall called Ghirardelli Square. The main manufacturing of Ghirardelli Chocolate now occurs in San Leandro in California.
Since the early 1960's the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company has been handled by a string of buyers, including Golden Grain Macaroni Company in 1963, to Quaker Oats in 1986. Since 1998, Ghirardelli Chocolate has been an independently operated arm of Lindt and Sprüngli from Switzerland.
A lot of Ghirardelli's Chocolate profits came from selling wholesale to resellers. However, in the 1990s they focused on increasing their retail trade by lining grocery store shelves and other candy outlets with Ghirardelli branded bagged candies.
The company handles every aspect of its chocolate production. According to the official website, they will reject up to 40% of cocoa seeds to achieve the perfect texture and flavor for their products.
Where to Buy Ghirardelli Chocolate
The Ghirardelli brand of chocolate is known and sold around the world. You can find its little squares of chocolatey goodness in department and grocery stores the world over; from Walmarts and Targets all over the U.S. to liquor stores in Australia and through the mail on Amazon, it's not difficult to find this delicious brand of chocolate wherever you are.
However, for the whole sensory experience steeped in history, you can't miss a visit to The Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop at Ghirardelli Square at North Point, San Francisco. Or try the Ghirardelli Chocolate Marketplace, where you can enjoy your purchase alongside a breathtaking view of San Francisco Bay and Alcatraz Island.