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A 150-Year Family Tradition of Craft & Innovation

From the gold rush to the great quake; from a little factory on Sansome Street in San Francisco to our Burlingame facility, here's a peek at what makes us who we are today.
Guittard Chocolate Company History Book
California Gold Rush

A California Gold Rush Discovery

In the mid 1800s, Etienne Guittard ventured from Tournus, France to the Barbary Coast in hopes of striking it rich during the California Gold Rush. He brought delicious chocolate from his uncle's factory to trade for mining supplies but soon discovered that wealthy miners were willing to pay a premium for his treat. Armed with the knowledge that there was another kind of "gold", he sailed back to France to finesse his craft and in 1868 returned to San Francisco and opened Guittard Chocolate on Sansome Street. In addition to chocolate, Etienne also sold coffee, tea and spices.


Burgeoning Businesses

Etienne guided the company for 31 years. Although he started from scratch with only a few bags of cocoa beans, by the time of his death in 1899, Guittard Chocolate was an established enterprise with an integral role in the growth of the business community of San Francisco.

Learning from the Mayans, Sweet Ground Cocoa is introduced and becomes a popular hit at the Cliff House in San Francisco.
Rebuilding after the great 1906 earthquake

Etienne's son, Horace C. Guittard, was in charge when the 1906 earthquake destroyed much of San Francisco, including the factory on Sansome. The Brandenstein's from MJB Coffee helped us get back on our feet. After a brief stint on Commercial Street, Guittard moved to Main Street, and focused manufacturing solely on chocolate.
San Francisco Worlds Fair
Stock Market Crash and Great Depression
Opening of the Golden Gate Bridge

World War II

During the war, chocolate manufacturing was considered an essential industry. Horace A. stayed back at home to run the business and provide chocolate and cocoa powder to the military.


Craft in an Era of Automation

Guittard remained on Main Street until selling the property to the city to make room for the Embarcadero Freeway. It was at that time, that Horace A. moved the company to Burlingame, California. While chocolate manufacturing is highly automated, it remains one of the few industries that still requires an artisanal and flexible approach. We use vintage equipment to retain the highest flavors.

Summer of Love in San Francisco

The Fourth Generation

Gary joined the family firm in 1975, working side-by-side with his brother Jay, who oversaw the wholesale business and his father Horace A.

Behold the gold bag; Real Semisweet Chocolate Chips debut

A Family of Employees

Jay assumes the presidency in the mid-80s. In 1989, due to the untimely deaths of his father and brother, Gary began running the company with his family of employees, many of whom had been there for 20+ years and remain at his side to this day.

Guittard Chocolate Studio opens in NYC
Collection Etienne

Gary referenced the hand-written journals of his great grandfather Etienne while developing the E.Guittard artisan line—single origins and blends crafted in the small-batch, French-artisan tradition.
Guittard Don't Mess with Our Chocolate campaign
First Hawaiian Crop
Guittard Chocolate Studio moves from NYC to LA

A Sustainable Future

Our craft is as much about making beautifully tasting chocolate as it is about supporting the people and preserving the places behind what we make. As the fifth generation joins the company, we continue to find ways to support, explore and grow with our extended family of customers, co-workers, farmers and suppliers.