The sweetest Rijeka’s factory

Rijeka Cacao and Chocolate Factory was the first plant for the industrial production of the kind in Croatia. The plant was situated in a great, three-storey building raised along the former Via Serpentina i.e. close to the crossroads of today’s Zvonimirova Street and Vinko Benac Street.

This factory was delivering chocolate tables, chocolate bonbons, cacao powder, tartlets, chocolate slices and similar sweets to the merchant shelves. To make their products more recognizable to their clients, factory marketing experts designed two manufacturing brands – Slon (Elephant) and Jadran.

So chocolates arrived to stores under the name Rijeka Chocolate – Slon. An illustration with an elephant or sometimes an elephant with three baby-elephants was printed on the packaging, suggesting to the customers that they have before them a product of special and exotic origin. Cacao used in the production was coming to Rijeka from far away parts of the world in which the cocoa plant grew and in Rijeka it was mixed with sugar and milk. Anyone wishing to have cacao powder at home to prepare a delicious drink or tasty cakes, could have purchased a round box in the store bearing the inscription “Rijeka cacao Slon” or “Rijeka cacao Jadran”. Some of the other factory products also ended up in buyers’ hands under special names. These were “Riječke tortice” (Rijeka tartlets) and “Adria šnite” (Adria slices).

Due to significant marketing skills, it is not surprising that the factory management invested a lot in advertising. Colour posters were ordered, often painted with suggestive scenes: women and children enjoying chocolate bites. It is not hard to figure out why women and children – it is because of the stereotype of the time that sweets were not a suitable snack for real men. Promotional postcards with imaginative and somehow again exotic motives were ordered. They depicted forest elves preparing a cacao over fire, desert bandits preying on a caravan carrying cacao, angels bringing big boxes of Rijeka cacao into a girl’s dream.

By changing owners, the factory eventually also changed its name. From 1919 to the end of its operation in 1944 it bore the name of Gerbeaud Chocolate Factory.

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