|Birth||9 October 1797, Boudry|
|Death||14 January 1884, Neuchâtel (aged 86 years)|
Philippe Suchard (9 October 1797 – 14 January 1884) was a Swiss chocolatier and industrialist.
Suchard was born in 1797 in Boudry. According to the memoirs of his sister Rosalie, he became aware of the potentialities of chocolate manufacturing as an industry at the very early age of about twelve. To fulfill his dream, six years later he started as an apprentice in his brother Frédéric's Konditorei in Bern. In 1824 he left Switzerland to visit the United States. At the end of the year he returned and opened a confectioner's business in Neuchâtel. In 1826, Suchard opened the factory of Chocolat Suchard in Serrières. He used hydropower of the nearby river to run the mills in his two-man factory. Suchard used a grinding mill consisting of a heated granite plate, and several granite rollers moving forwards and backwards. This design is still used to grind cocoa paste.
Chocolate was not cheap or a product for everybody. Suchard struggled financially early in his career as a chocolatier. His success came in 1842, with a bulk order from Frederick William IV, king of Prussia, who was also the prince of Neuchâtel. This triggered a boom and soon his chocolates won prizes at the London Great Exhibition of 1851 and the Paris Universal Exposition of 1855. He opened his first factory abroad in 1880 in Lörrach, Germany, becoming the first to do so. The unusual purple color of the chocolate packaging was selected by Suchard, who believed it would be unique among chocolate packaging. By the end of the 19th century, Suchard had become the largest chocolate producer. Seventeen years after his death in 1884 in Neuchâtel, his company produced the famous Milka chocolate for the Swiss market. After his death, his daughter Eugénie Suchard and her husband Karl Russ-Suchard, took over the functioning of his factory. Nowadays the factory belongs to the Kraft Foods group and production has been moved to the Toblerone factory in Bern.
Suchard was not only a chocolatier but also had interest in other areas. In 1834 he introduced and captained the first steamer, Industriel, on Lake Neuchâtel. He also tried introducing silkworm culture in Switzerland in 1837, but the silkworms were destroyed during an epidemic in 1843. His interest in managing river water and controlling floods led to the sinking of the water level in Lake Neuchâtel. The lowered lake shoreline revealed the Celtic settlement of La Tène dating back to around 450 BC.