1929 – CZECHOSLOVAKIA – WHERE THE MAGIC BEGINS
Many years ago, in a charming little town on the banks of the Danube River near the picturesque Carpathian Mountain Range, a young man began studying the art of fine chocolate making. Leopold Grunhut soon mastered the magic of fine chocolate confections and began creating masterpieces that were both a delight to the eye and delectable to taste. Soon his confections gained culinary renown and within five years his small operation grew to include four stores in town.
1950 – CROSSING THE SEA
Post WWII the company set sail to New York where Erwin Grunhut, son of founder Leopold, led the newly named Astor Chocolate. With his creativity, original thinking, and unique style, Astor’s reputation spread and they soon caught the attention of their first large-scale customer, Macy’s. Many other department stores followed as Astor’s reputation of excellence grew.
1963 – CREATIVITY UNLEASHED
Acknowledging the illegalities of selling liqueur-filled chocolate in the 1960’s wouldn’t stop one determined man. Instead, Erwin capitalized on that flavor combination and created a wonderful alternative; a chocolate cup to be filled with liqueur. This dark Belgian chocolate cup soon became a best seller, as the company aligned with brand name liqueurs like Kahlua, Nocello, and Tia Maria. The classic liqueur cup gift box was prominently displayed in the windows of Bloomingdale’s and featured in House Beautiful magazine.
1965 – CHECKMATE!
Designed by a famous artist, the Chocolate chess set was a sight to behold. The solid dark and white chocolate playing pieces and edible black and white checkered board were masterfully created for chess and chocolate lovers alike to enjoy. The chess set was featured in Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and other popular mail-order catalogs of the day. The chess set was followed by Astor’s chocolate greeting cards, chocolate love letters and other unique gift items.
1967 – GROWTH SPURT
In order to keep up with the large volume of orders coming in, Astor moved its operations to a large new factory in Glendale, New York. The new production equipment allowed the company to produce at very high volume with a shorter turnaround for their customers. Never losing sight of their original small-town roots, the Grunhut family ensures that Astor’s growth doesn’t detract from their homey feel and that each customer is still treated personally with the highest regard.
1970 – ROOM SERVICE
In the 1970’s, Astor introduced customized turndown chocolates to the American hospitality market. These chocolate mints soon became the hallmark of turndown service at many famous high-end hotels. Astor remains the industry leader in chocolate amenities for the hospitality industry.
1975 – CHOCOLATE FOR THE TRIP
As American’s began travelling more frequently, Astor Chocolate joined the journey. Refining the European concept of souvenir chocolates for the American traveler, Astor added a new line of chocolates featuring photos of cities across the USA on the wrappers. Now tourists could enjoy sweet memories as a keepsake of their trips.
1997 – MOVING ON
With sales exploding, it soon became obvious that Astor had again outgrown its premises, Erwin, surrounded by his sons Meir, Nathan and David, broke ground on a new state of the art 120,000 square foot factory in Lakewood NJ. The facility boasted modernized machinery and up-to-date techniques to more efficiently churn out popular confections.
1998 – EARTH CONSCIOUS
Ever cognizant of their responsibility to the earth and its inhabitants, Astor adds a fully integrated water recirculation system to their new Lakewood NJ production facility.
1999 – TAKING A GAMBLE
Wishing to expand their reach to allow those on the west coast easier access to their chocolates, Astor chooses Las Vegas, city of lights and casinos, for their new warehouse. Chips and chocolate, anyone?!
2000 – CROSSING THE GOLDEN GATE
Astor continues to broaden its vision of bringing the finest chocolates to its discerning consumers by acquiring Le Belge Chocolatier, a San Francisco based chocolate company. Founded by Parisian couple Philippe and Heugette Dumas, Le Belge is renowned for its artful blend of European tradition, fine Belgian chocolate and exceptional ingredients.
2001 – CHOCOLATE DU JOUR
Bringing Chef Sebastien Beline onto the Astor team is an obvious step in bringing Astor to the next level. Born in the town of Le Mans France, Sebastien joined Astor Chocolate as Master Chocolatier in 2001. Chef Sebastien Beline grew up surrounded by the sights and smells of his family’s chocolate shop, Chocolaterie Beline and is a perfect fit for the company that blossomed from a small business into a world-renowned company while never losing sight of the family roots that hold Astor together. As a fourth generation chef, Sebastien’s passion for creating gourmet delicacies was inculcated from a young age. Sebastien also spent three years, by exclusive invitation, as Chef Chocolatier at the famous La Patisserie Laduree in Paris. Combining classical French training with modern techniques and trends, Chef Beline has garnered industry recognition including being named on the exclusive Top 25 List of Chocolate Makers in the Guide des Croquers de Chocolat.
2005 – WINE COUNTRY
Some foods are made to be together. Le Belge moved into a newly constructed facility in Napa Valley, California, a perfect setting for the flavorful and luscious chocolates they are famous for. Surrounded by sun-kissed vineyards, Le Belge continues to innovate artisanal chocolates, inspired by the gourmet culture of the Napa Valley region.
2012 – SUN POWER
While churning out chocolates for consumers to enjoy is the end goal, Astor prides itself on keeping the process as clean and sustainable as possible. Astor’s pursuit of sustainability grew to include solar panels which were installed at its Lakewood, NJ headquarters. Solar panels, which create clean sources of energy and decrease their reliance on electricity is another step in the direction of lessening our carbon footprint in the world.
2013 – 50 YEARS!
Astor celebrates the 50th anniversary of the chocolate liqueur cup created by owner Erwin Grunhut. Launched in first class on Pan Am and showcased in the windows of Bloomingdales, the chocolate liqueur cup is as popular as ever. What better way to make your favorite cocktail, cordial or dessert more impressive and of course more delicious.
2015 – CUSTOMIZATION UPGRADE
Astor unveils its latest addition to their full-service in-house print department. The new HP 6800 full digital press truly makes Astor a one-stop customization shop. This new investment expands an already impressive capability roster adding onto our HP 4500 or HP 5800 Indigo digital presses. Wrappers can be customized to fit every customers needs making Astor a truly one stop shop for fine chocolates.
2016 – ERWIN GRUNHUT HONORED
The Specialty Food Association Hall of Fame honors Erwin Grunhut, Patriarch of Astor Chocolate Corp, for his lifelong career as a pioneer in the confectionary industry. Mr. Grunhut is among the first recipients to receive this acknowledgement and achievement from the specialty food industry.
2016 – ACHIEVING GREATNESS
With quality and perfection as the hallmark of every creation at Astor chocolate, it is no wonder that Astor Chocolate once again achieves an SQF Level 3 Certification Rating of Excellent – Scoring 100%.
2016 – 15 YEARS OF EXCEPTIONAL CHOCOLATE
Award-winning French Chef and Master Chocolatier Sebastien Beline celebrates 15 years of excellence at Astor Chocolate. Making chocolate is a passion and Chef Beline makes his mark by uniting chocolate and superior ingredients with a modern aesthetic and adventurous approach to creating the perfect balance of taste, texture and a nod to luxury. A true art form, Chef Beline’s creations are world class.
2017 – INNOVATION IN DESIGN
With a focus on innovation, Astor forges ahead breaking ground on a state of the art creative suite with a laser sharp focus on design and innovation. The 10,000 square-foot facility is expanding with a new 2,900 square-foot Design & Creative Suite which will house their in-house Marketing, Design and Product Development team. “This project will serve as the standard model for how we approach the new development at our facility” said David Grunhut.
2020 – HEALTH AND WELLNESS
With the Coronavirus pandemic raging across the world, Astor steps up to the plate with their pandemic response. Rolling out the “Chocolate for Nurses and Doctors” campaign is part and parcel of Astor’s mission to bring smiles to people’s faces. Even as the USA is shut down by illness, Astor’s chocolates inspire healthcare workers who are on the front lines by reminding them that Astor sees, Astor cares, and Astor is standing with them during this trying time.