I first became familiar with Caotina at a hospital in the Swiss canton of Vaud. My son, who was three years old at the time, was taking part in a food challenge for cold cow’s milk. The purpose was to determine whether or not he could safely consume milk, despite a past history of allergic reactions. To help motivate him, the nurse mixed some chocolate Caotina powder into his glass of milk. After several doses over a period of 3-4 hours, our doctor concluded that he could drink milk without any concerns. Since that time, Caotina has become a staple food product in our kitchen, like many Swiss households.
If you’re curious to learn more about this iconic Swiss product, here are 10 facts about Switzerland’s drinking chocolate, Caotina:
1. Caotina was first introduced in 1963, by a company called Wander. Located in Neuenegg, in the canton of Bern, this company also produces another popular powdered drink in Switzerland, Ovomaltine.
2. The name, “Caotina,” is a portmanteau. It blends cacao (cocoa) and the last syllable of Ovomaltine.
3. Caotina comes in three primary flavors: Original (milk chocolate), Noir (dark chocolate) and Blanc (white chocolate). The Noir and Blanc flavors were introduced in 2005. The Noir has a cocoa content of 45 percent. The Blanc was supposedly the first white chocolate powder of its kind on the market in Switzerland.
4. The signature color of the Caotina packaging used to be red, and it was first sold in a square-shaped box. Wander changed it to a chocolate-brown color in 1984.
5. The vast majority of people in Switzerland are familiar with the Caotina brand. According to a recent article in Coop’s Coopération magazine, 92 percent of Swiss people have reported that they know about Caotina. In addition, 65 percent of the 18-29 age cohort said that they drank Caotina at least once during the last 12 months.
6. You can add Caotina to cold or warm milk. Everyone has their preferences for either a steaming mug of hot chocolate or a cold, refreshing glass of chocolate milk, and some like both. Wander also offers another product, Caotina Pronto, that can be used with water.
7. It’s possible to order a personalized container of Caotina. For CHF 15 in Switzerland, you can place an order online for a special Caotina container printed with the word or phrase of your choice.
8. Caotina contains seven vitamins. Here’s a list of the specific ingredients that make up Caotina: Sugar, fat reduced cocoa 19% (with emulsifier soy lecithine), glucose, chocolate 7% (sugar, cocoa, cocoa butter, fat reduced cocoa, cocoa mass, flavoring vanillin), calcium phosphate, flavoring vanillin, salt, 7 vitamins (B1, B2, niacin, B6, folic acid, B12, pantothenic acid). For people with allergies or intolerances, please note that Caotina may contain traces of hazelnuts and milk.
9. Each year, Wander produces approximately 2,100 tons of Caotina. This is equal to about 4.2 million of its 500-gram containers. Beyond Switzerland, Caotina is exported to 20 countries.
10. You can find many different kinds of recipes that call for Caotina, not just those for beverages. Personally, I’ve used Caotina in madeleines and cakes. However, on the Caotina website, I found some surprising recipes that pair this chocolate powder with ingredients like scallops and endives.