For Valentines Day, and every other day of the year, for that matter, all lovers want a kiss. A kiss is a kiss... but perhaps a chocolate one is even better. But at the beginning, this kiss might have turned out to be a Punch if the Italian chocolate company Perugina had kept its original name of Cazzotti (Punches) for it's choco-bites. In fact, the original Cazzotti bonbon was really a punch--it was the size of a fist! Of course, history was made when they changed the name to Baci--literally, Kisses.
Sometimes simply Baci (Kisses) other times labeled Bacio (Kiss), the chocolate treats are made by Perugina, a chocolate company in the Perugia region of Italy--now owned my Nestle. In the town of San Sisto there is the Baci museum where you can see a history of chocolate, vintage cocoa mills and the BaciOne, a Guiness World Record setting 13,1583 pound single wrapped chocolate!
One of the other things that made Baci so popular was the Love Notes or Love Scrolls that started appearing in the 1930s. Everyone knows that ancients prescribed chocolate as an aphrodisiac and lovers throughout history have always exchanged chocolates to enhance their passion. Baci Love Notes wrap the chocolates and promote romance by including quotes from classical authors, philosophers, artists, and proverbs--and in different languages. In Italy, someone pontificating about some obscure fact might be challenged by asking, "Dove hai imparato che da? Un Bacio Perugina?" (Where did you learn that from? A Perugina Bacio?)
In the 1930s, Baci and Perugina (and Buitoni Pasta) had a very interesting marketing campaign... trading cards. People kept them in special trading card albums like supermarket trading/saving stamps of the 1950s and 60s. Collect 150 albums worth of the cards and you would win a Fiat 500--a real one!
Give it a try... But if he or she asks, "Baciami"... forget the chocolates and get your lips into action!
Happy Valentine's Day!
The Museo Storico Nestle Perugina in San Sisto is open Monday through Friday (check for special weekend hours). Tours are by reservation only by telephone (011-39-075-527-6796) and are free. Perugia hosts Eurochocolate, an annual chocolate festival and exposition in October.