On the banks of the Danube River, in Czechoslovakia, near the picturesque Carpathian Mountain Range, Leopold Grunhut began studying the art of fine chocolate making. Before long, his skills were acclaimed and he began creating unique chocolate confections with delicate balances of flavor in his small kitchen. Using only fresh cream from the local farmers, his small operation soon became the talk of the town. Within five years, he had four stores in town selling his confections.
1950-Moving To America
After WWII devastated the region, the company relocated to New York, with young Erwin at the helm of the family business. Under the Astor Chocolate name, the business flourished with Erwin’s creativity, original thinking, and unique style. Astor Chocolate’s European inspired confections soon achieved national renown. Astor’s name soon spread and they acquired their first large-scale customer, Macy’s. Many other department stores soon followed and Astor’s reputation grew.
1963 – A Heritage Of Innovation
In the 1960’s it was illegal to sell liqueur-filled chocolate. Erwin thought of a creative alternative, a chocolate cup that could 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 – Chess Anyone?
In 1965, the Chocolate Chess Set was designed by a famous artist. It came complete with solid dark and white chocolate playing pieces and an edible board in a beautiful gift box. This too became a popular item and 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 – Expanding
Astor Chocolate was expanding rapidly and moved to a large new factory in Glendale, New York. This enabled the addition of new production equipment to facilitate high volume production with a very short turnaround.
1970 – Taking On The Hospitality Industry
In the 1970’s, Astor introduced customized turndown chocolates to the American hotel 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 – Souvenir Chocolates
Expanding on its success, Astor added the European concept, of chocolate souvenirs to its line. Featuring photos of cities across the USA on the wrappers of its fine chocolates which are offered nationwide bringing sweet memories to travelers.
1997 – Time To Move
Astor breaks ground on their new modern 120,000 square foot Lakewood NJ manufacturing facility to keep up with growing sales.
1998 – Leading The Way In Sustainability
Astor adds a fully integrated water recirculation system to their new Lakewood NJ production facility.
1999 – Conquering Las Vegas
Astor Chocolate opens their Las Vegas Warehouse to better serve their accounts.
2000 – Expanding To Napa Valley
In 2000, Astor broadened its vision by acquiring Le Belge Chocolatier, a San Francisco based chocolate company. Founded by a Parisian couple, Philippe and Heugette Dumas, Le Belge is renowned for its artful blend of European tradition, fine Belgian chocolate and exceptional ingredients.
2001 – French Chocolate Making
Chef Sebastien Beline, from the town of Le Mans France (famous for it’s auto race), joined Astor Chocolate as their master Chocolatier. Chef Sebastien Beline grew up surrounded by the sights and smells of his family’s chocolate shop, Chocolaterie Beline. This is where his passion for creating gourmet delicacies started as a fourth generation chef. Sebastien also spent three years, by invitation, at the famous La Patisserie Laduree in Paris as their Chef Chocolatier. 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 – Le Belge Moves To The Valley
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. Le Belge continues to innovate artisanal chocolates, inspired by the gourmet culture of the Napa Valley region.
2012 – More Sustainable
Good corporate citizens, Astor’s pursuit of sustainability, grew to include solar panels which were installed at its Lakewood, NJ headquarters. The environment is important to Astor Chocolate as they strive to lessen our carbon footprint in the world.
2013 – 50 Years of The Chocolate Liqueur Cup
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 – Capabilities Expand
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.
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
Astor Chocolate Once Again Achieves an SQF Level 3 Certification Rating of Excellent – Scoring 100%
2016 – 15 Years of Exceptional Chocolate
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.