Yesterday the sun was shining. It seemed like a good idea to go for a bit of bike ride with the kids down to the Ritter Sport chocolate factory. There is a cafe there and the cycle path to get there is very pretty – running alongside a winding stream for some of the way. It’s also a good way to separate kids from their electronic devices and get them out in the fresh air – the promise of chocolate at the end of a cycle ride is irresistable.
Getting there was easy as it’s mostly downhill. We had a bit of lunch (mostly healthy salad – we were probably feeling guilty about being so near to a large chocolate factory) and then had a quick wander round the information section at the factory. It’s a bit of a mini-museum really. As a child or indeed young man I would have not spent more than two minutes there. But as I get older I find myself reading information panels and saying “oooh, that’s interesting” in all sorts of places while my kids are thinking “oh come onnnnn Dad, let’s get moving“.
Well it was just too interesting to ignore. I even pointed out one particularly interesting bit to Ariane. You might wonder how a company which makes only square bits of chocolate could be so interesting, but they must have managed because there were lots of people there. Allright, perhaps the little model delivery truck which actually dispensed free mini-squares of chocolate had a little to do with it.
So what did I learn? The production and sale of chocolate used to be strictly regulated in Germany. Each bar had to weigh exactly 100grammes and cost 1 Deutschmark. Rumour has it that the wife of the owner, Alfred Ritter, noticed how people took chocolate to sports events but it was difficult to fit into a pocket and it broke easily. Alfred listened to his wife and the square 100g chocolate bar was invented. In 1980 the chocolate market was deregulated in Germany which made it tough for the traditional companies – many of which were local and quite small. Ritter recognised that it needed to be efficient and so decided to stop all the fancy stuff and only produce the square “Ritter Sport” chocolate. Interesting, I thought.
After the cafe and a long wait for two mini choc squares for the kids, we rode to an adventure playground followed by an ice cream and then the slog back uphill home. It was a pleasant day which saw us all pretty tired and sprawled on the sofa by early evening. I had planned to watch a bit more of the golf Masters but it was so obvious that Jordan Spieth (young, but nonetheless charisma-free texan golf-robot) was going to win easily that I went to bed early.*
*A poor decision on my part. Spieth collapsed and England’s Danny Willet was the surprise winner – a Yorkshireman no less. Nice one.