In 1865, the pharmacist Dr Georg Wander formulated a malt extract in a laboratory in the old town of Bern to combat the widespread malnutrition at that time. After his son perfected it and rounded it off with cocoa, Ovaltine was launched and marketed as a medicinal product in Switzerland in 1904. But soon even healthy people were drinking Ovaltine. Today, there is a multitude of products on the market, from spreads to snacks and muesli.
Initially, Ingwerer was something of an insider’s tip, today, it is the Bern in-trend drink bar none. In 2013, Peppe Jenzer tasted a ginger-based schnapps at a friend’s house and felt the drink could be improved on. So he began experimenting. His creation is not too spicy, but not too sweet either. And what’s particularly neat is that simply shaking the bottle makes the liqueur even spicier.
Ragusa was born of necessity: In 1942, in the middle of World War II, raw ingredients like cocoa were at a premium. So Bern chocolate manufacturer Camille Bloch came up with the idea of coating a chocolate mix made of ground nuts and whole nuts with fine chocolate. And, to this day, Ragusa is still made using the same recipe and the same method; in fact, it’s still made by the same family!
During the second half of the 19th century several factories were established on the premises behind Bern’s main railway station; one of them was the Tobler chocolate factory. In 1908, Theodor Tobler came up with Toblerone, a milk chocolate with a honey, almond and nougat filling. Today, it is one of the world's best-known Swiss chocolates.
The Länggass quarter in Bern is a vibrant student quarter with lots of pretty cafés and original shops. "Länggass-Tee" is now something of an institution – a family-run tea shop on the premises of an old tobacconist’s. Particularly delicious: "Berner Rosen", a delicate fruit and flower tea blending pieces of apple, cinnamon, hibiscus, rose petals, linden blossoms, and nettles.
In 1989, Bern’s own confectionery Glatz came up with the idea of filling an old bear-shaped mould made by the German manufacturer Friedrich Anton Reiche with a tasty cake mix to mark the company’s 125th anniversary: the Bern Mandelbärli was born! This sweet bear is now available in several variations, from Irish cream to strawberry to gluten- and lactose-free.
As an independent, family-owned company, Rugenbräu AG in Interlaken has been brewing beer with traditional methods for generations. In 1999, the brewery introduced Switzerland’s first officially distilled beer brandy, thus paving the way for whisky making in Switzerland. Barely ten years later, the first Swiss Mountain Single Malt Whisky was launched onto the market.
Butter, eggs and flour are the main ingredients of Kambly’s thin Bretzeli biscuits. In fact, these biscuits from the Emmental Valley have been one of Switzerland’s most popular snacks for more than a hundred years. It was Oscar Kambly who perfected his in-laws’ Bretzeli recipe, and began selling the biscuits at his bakery – with great success. In 1910, he founded the now world-famous Kambly company.
Spicy, vegan and sustainable: Those who prefer to add a fiery spiciness to their dishes should try Jungle Døg, a high-quality hot sauce from Bern. The puristic sauce made from regional habanero chilies promises a fiery-exotic flavour experience. The chilies are cultivated in pots on the rooftops of Bern; so-called urban farming.