A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from April 29, 2005
Chocolate Fondue
Food writer John Mariani states that "chocolate fondue" (or "Fondue Chocolat") was invented as a gimmick in New York City. Mariani even dates the event to July 4, 1964, by Konrad Egli at his Chalet Suisse restaurant. The "Roadfood" Sterns insist that "chocolate fondue" came from Madison Avenue advertising to promote Toblerone Swiss chocolate.

The problem here is that "chocolate fondue" is cited in print as far back as a 1930s issue of McCall's; one such "chocolate fondue" recipe was described in 1956 as "a glorified bread pudding." Toblerone did advertise "chocolate fondue" and Konrad Egli's Chalet Suisse restaurant in New York City did offer "Fondue Chocolat," but both events appear to have occurred in 1966 (not 1964).


Food Timeline
In 1952 chef-owner Konrad Elgi of New York's Chalet Swiss restaruant made a fondue bourguignonne, made with beef cubes cooked in hot oil, that became an overnight sensation that spread rapidly to other restaurants. In the early 1960s Egli, who noticed that many of his diet-conscious customers avoided his rich chocolate desserts, consulted with his public-relations agent, Beverly Allen, and came up with a chocolate fondue (introduced on July 4, 1964) into which one dipped pieces of cake, fruit, or cream-puff pastry -- a variation completely unknown in Switzerland but one that became popular even there within the last few years."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 130).

"Chocolate fondue, unlike cheese fondue, is not Swiss. According to Jane and Michael Stern (American Gourmet, 1991), it was dreamed up in the Madison Avenue test kitchens of the Switzerland Association to promote Toblerone Swiss chocolate. The Stern's don't say when the great event took place, but I distinctly remember chocolate fondue being a late-'50s to early'60s phenomenon."
---The American Century Cookbook (p. 403)

1 March 1930, Syracuse Herald, sect. X, pg. 9, col. 5:
...and Alice M. Child tells all about them - cheese fondue, fish fondue, chocolate fondue and many others - in McCall's.

1 April 1931, Fitchburg (MA) Sentinel, pg. 10, col. 4:
Chocolate fondue - Add 1-3 cup sugar and 2 squares chocolate, melted over hot water, just after the eggs yolks are added.

12 February 1937, Elyria (Ohio) Chronicle-Telegram, pg. 21, cols. 4-5:
Chocolate Fondue
Add 2 square of unsweetened chocolate to 1 cup milk and heat until the chocolate is melted then beat until the mixture is smooth and well-blended. Add 1 cup soft bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon butter, 2/3 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the yolks of 3 eggs, slightly beaten, cool slightly and then fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites. Turn into a greased baking dish and bake in a moderate oven about 40 minutes. Serve with whipped cream, sweetened or unsweetened according to your taste.

13 February 1953, Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, pg. 14, col. 6:
CHOCOLATE FONDUE
Add 2 squares unsweetened chocolate, broken in pieces to 1 cup milk and heat until melted; stir until blended. Add 1 cup soft bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Beat 3 egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture after it cools.

Turn into a greased baking dish, bake in 350 F. 40 minutes.

Serve with cream.

MRS. FRED SHALLISH.
24 Leitch ave., Skaneateles.

22 October 1956, Boston (MA) Herald, "Chocolate Fondue With Mint Tops" broadcast by Marjorie Mills, pg. 7, col. 2:
Sometimes your recipe requests send us on a fascinating search for something we hadn't heard about. Chocolate Mint Fondue was one request that sent the taste buds tingling at the very idea. Sure it's a glorified bread pudding but those combined flavors of chocolate and mint surely top the hit parade of food favorites.

8 September 1957, New York Times, pg. SM46:
CHOCOLATE FONDUE: HOT DESSERT
2 squares (ounces) unsweetened chocolate
1 cup milk
1 cup soft bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated

26 August 1966, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), "At New York Show: Oriental Foods Go Fancier Yet," pg. 19, col. 1:
The Tobler Candy Co. of Switzerland has created an exciting new use for its Swiss milk chocolate -- chocolate fondue. You melt the chocolate with cream and cointreau (or instant coffee and cinnamon) and dip fruit. This is my selection for top idea at the show.

21 September 1966, Cumberland (MD) Evening Times, pg. 23, col. 2:
Fondue Chocolat
3 bars toblerone, chocolate bars, 3-oz. each
1/2 cup cream
2 tablespoons cognac, cointreau or kirsch

Break toberlone into separate triangular pieces; combine all ingredients in saucepan or small chafing dish. Stir over low hear until chocolate is melted and mix is smooth. Serve in chafing dish over low flame or candle warmer.

For Dunkables: speared on forks or wooden skewers, serve each Fondue-er on individual plate one or combination of the following:

...angel-food cake or ladyfingers, cut in chunks
...orange or tangerine slices, pineapple chunks
...fruit should be well drained.

Dunk, swirl. Serves 4-6.

28 September 1966, Walla-Walla (WA) Union-Bulletin, pg. 21, col. 1:
Chocolate Fondue Is
Fun-Type Dessert
When a savory fondue is not the main course feature new Chocolate Fondue for dessert.

In small chafing dish melt 3 bars (3 oz. each) broken up Swiss honey-almond milk chocolate. Add 1 cup cream, 2 tablespoons cognac (omit for children). Stir over low flame until melted. Serve with lady fingers, orange segments, etc. for dipping. Enough for 4-6 persons.

21 October 1966, New York Times, pg. 71:
Living-room skiing, boots with hinged-door side entrances, ski chalk talks and even chocolate fondue were among the unusual items yesterday as the fifth annual International Ski and WInter Sports show moved into the New York Coliseum for its four-day stand.

Google News Archive
17 November 1966, Miami (FL) News, "Fondue Spells Fun -- Swiss Style" by bertha Cochran Hahn, pg. 1-C, col. 1:
And in a few weeks Fondue Chocolat has become Egli's most popular dessert, not only with his clientele but with his kitchen staff. You'll like it, too. The epitome of elegance, it is a marvel of taste, and couldn't be simpler to make.

The essential ingredient, toblerone, a Swiss chocolate bar, combine chocolate with rich Swiss milk, honey, crushed almonds, and flavorings, so all ingredients but cream and your favorite liqueur are "built-in."

7 March 1967, Chicago Tribune, pg. C3:
For dessert, there was chocolate fondue. Officiating at the party were Hans Hoffer of the Switzerland Cheese association and representatives from Chocolat Tobler, makers of the Swiss milk chocolate, Toberlone (sic).
(...)
The dessert fondue, a blend of 3 bars (3 ounces each) Swiss milk chocolate, 1/2 cup cream, and 2 tablespoons kirsch or other spirits, was served in small earthenware pots and kept warm over flame. The dippers for this fondue included strawberries, bananas, pineapples, grapes, and profiteroles, tiny cream puffs.

OCLC WorldCat record
Chocolate fondue, meat fondue, cheese fondue.
Publisher: Harvey, Ill. : Roberts Colonial House, ©1969.
Edition/Format: Book : English
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Friday, April 29, 2005 • Permalink


I always end up burning my chocolate fondue >_<

Posted by Gourmet Chocolate Gift Baskets  on  08/24  at  11:59 AM

Thanks for your web site.

In this page, you claim that chocolate fondue could have not been invented in New York in the 1960’s because it is attested earlier.  But your earlier attestations describe very different dishes, some like a chocolate cake, others more like a chocolate mousse.

Posted by Stavros Macrakis  on  12/12  at  11:09 PM

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