Skiplink Navigation

Main Features

Swiss Pioneers The king of chocolate in Mexico

A rags-to-riches career straight out of a film script: as a young man, the protagonist emigrates to Mexico. Once there, he becomes the first ever manufacturer of white chocolate and goes on to become an entrepreneur worth millions. The life of Gianfranco Arnoldi. (SRF/

Arnoldi has always been in the confectionary business. He learnt his craft at the Vanini pastry shop in Lugano and, by the age of 19, was already a chief chocolatier. Later, Arnoldi produced chocolate at the upmarket Palace Hotels in Gstaad and Lucerne, then at the Ritz in Barcelona. 

Switzerland had become too limiting for him and he was attracted by the revolutionary atmosphere of Mexico. In 1956, a Hilton hotel was opened in Mexico City and Arnold signed a one year contract. He moved from Hilton to Hilton, married a Mexican, and finally opened his own confectionary shop in Mexico city in 1968.

The firm prospered, even though he had to overcome some cultural differences. Mexicans mostly knew chocolate as a drink made from cocoa and sugar, or as a spicy sauce for marinating chicken thighs. They had to get used to the idea of eating it in solid form. 

Arnold now has 25 shops in Mexico. “It’s not easy producing top quality (chocolate) for so long”, he says rather wistfully. His son is now running the business and looking to expand. 

In the series 'Swiss Pioneers', Swiss Public Television, SRF, meets Swiss nationals at home and abroad who have made a name for themselves in their area of expertise.

end of infobox

Neuer Inhalt

Horizontal Line

SWI on Instagram

SWI on Instagram

SWI on Instagram

subscription form

Form for signing up for free newsletter.

Sign up for our free newsletters and get the top stories delivered to your inbox.

Click here to see more newsletters