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Last Week, This Swiss Town Was Briefly Showered in Cocoa Powder

A broken ventilation system at a Lindt factory spewed crushed cocoa nibs into the air

The chocolate factory in Olten, Switzerland, quickly fixed its ventilation problem and resumed production. (Courtesy of WallpaperFlare)
smithsonianmag.com

A small Swiss town experienced a bizarre summer storm when a ventilation system malfunction at the Lindt & Sprüengli chocolate company sent a sprinkling of cocoa powder over the city, reports the Associated Press.

At the factory in the city Olten, between Zürich and Basel, there was a minor defect in the cooling ventilation for a line for roasted cocoa nibs last Thursday. Coupled with strong winds on Friday morning, the cocoa powder disbursed over the city, falling in a fine dusting.

One car was lightly coated and the company offered to pay for cleaning services, though the owner has yet to accept the offer, company spokesperson Sara Thallner told Oltner Tagblatt.

The company says the particles are harmless to people and the environment, according to AP, and factory production has resumed as normal.

This sweet sprinkling is not the first time chocolate has escaped from factories in Willy Wonka-esque fashion.

A similarly sticky situation unfolded in Brooklyn, New York, in 1919. In an attempt to put out a fire at the Rockwood & Company’s chocolate factory, a fire crew unleashed raw cocoa, sugar and butter down the street, according to Jelisa Castrodale for Food and Wine.

The chocolate “flowed through the street like molten lava with a foamy cap of white formed by the sugar and butter,” according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

"Little fellows fell on their knees before the oncoming flood and dipped it up greedily with grimy fingers. An hour later, when every face was liberally smeared, an emergency call to the truant department was answered by several automobiles. Chocolate-gorged truants, some with faraway looks in their eyes, were hauled off to school,” writes the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Due to a mishap with a storage container at the DreiMeister chocolate factory in Werl, Germany, in 2018, the streets of a small town were flooded with a ton of melted chocolate that quickly hardened in the winter cold. A team of firefighters used shovels to pry off the new candy pavement, reports the AP. The crew used hot water and torches to dislodge the remains from cracks and sewage drains.

Company boss Markus Luckey told Soester Anzeiger that such massive spillage from the main production line “would have been a disaster” so close to the winter holidays. Nevertheless, it appears Christmas in Werl was sweet, afterall.

About Claire Bugos
Claire Bugos

Claire Bugos is a journalist and former print intern at Smithsonian magazine. She is a recent graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and history.

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