We could smell the chocolate from several blocks away – immediate motivation for the kids to keep walking! Our visit to Latvia’s largest chocolate producer Laima’s museum was by chance, as we were on Miera Street on other business. However, once we caught a whiff of chocolate there was no passing by the Laima Chocolate Museum, a new addition to the Laima complex.
The Miera Street factory has been operating since 1939, with an adjacent shop and café having opened in 2014. We followed our noses through the museum’s doors, and after paying our entrance fee got our first taste of Laima… a few chocolates later the boys were ready to roll.
We followed a guide into the museum where we were offered cups of liquid chocolate to sip while contemplating Laima’s history, which dates back to 1921 (although its roots are in Teodors Rigert’s confectionary which opened its doors on Zaļā Street in 1870). There is nothing like a cup of chocolate to make learning palatable…
An interactive exhibit allowed us to have personalized messages printed on a chocolate bar, and soon we proceeded into the next room where the story of the cocoa bean was relayed through videos and signage. Lauris and Mikus were fascinated with the video of how Laima’s marzipan, truffles and zephyr are made; the stretching and rolling process is quite long and complicated, completely different from what I had pictured.
The photo and video booths were a big hit, as you can have your photo taken and shown on an in-house Laima clock (and emailed to your personal email address) or create your own chocolate video with large chocolate props and even a Laimas pulkstenis, the famous meeting spot located in Vecrīga.
On display were a few national treasures: glass guards the first dark chocolate made in Latvia, and a 100-year-old doll made of chocolate. I can’t imagine how these pieces survived a day, not to mention a century! We stopped in the gift shop for a few more souvenirs before heading back towards the center of the city, Lauris and Mikus excitedly picking out a couple of new varieties to try. Although I’m always interesting in trying out new candy, the dark chocolate is still my favorite, and even he lacks a sweet tooth, Roberts consumed his share of chocolate today also. The Laima museum is truly a tour of the senses; a sweet experience for any chocolate lover!