The history of Belgian chocolate and the know-how behind it

Master chocolatier Leonidas

Belgium is famous for the inimitable taste of its chips, the singer Jacques Brel (although he prefers candies), and its Belgian chocolate, naturally! The kingdom is the historical birthplace of very many chocolate-makers. Leonidas is one of its most deserving representatives. The proof? This producer of Belgian chocolates is now the certified purveyor to the Belgian royal palace, no less! This recognition is down to the exceptional know-how of its Master Chocolatiers. Come on, we’ll tell you their story.

Leonidas wedding

The history of Belgian chocolate

Chocolate arrived in Belgium via the port of Antwerp in the 17th century. The region was a Spanish colony at that time: the Spanish Netherlands, whose capital was Brussels. The chocolate drink, brought from the Americas a century earlier, was highly prized in Europe’s royal courts.

But it wasn’t until the 19th century that chocolate as we know it today became widely available. Thanks to industrialisation, the mills used to extract the cocoa butter from the beans were gradually replaced by steam engines. This made it easier to produce cocoa mass in large quantities. Across the whole of Europe, chocolate makers set up in business: in England, Switzerland, France and the Netherlands.

First Leonidas shop

In 1828, the Dutchman Van Houten began producing cocoa powder. The chocolate tablet was invented by the Frenchman Menier in 1836. In 1876, Peter of Switzerland, who would go on to join forces with Nestlé, came up with the idea of adding milk powder to chocolate. Neuhaus claims the credit for the first Belgian chocolate, created in 1912. Belgian chocolate was born!

And where was Leonidas in all this? We’re coming to that… Leonidas Kestekides was a Greek man who specialised in granitas, wine and confectionery, first in Italy and then in the United States. In 1910, he participated in the World’s Fair in Brussels where he took the bronze medal for one of his confectionery products, a chocolate-covered fruit jelly. He also found love there, and relocated to Ghent. He was awarded the gold medal at the 1913 World’s Fair in Ghent. He then opened his first tasting shop. Let the adventure of Leonidas chocolate begin!

Logo Supplier Patented by the Court of Belgium

The quality of Belgian know-how

The secret of Belgian chocolate lies in what goes into it, and the know-how of the Master Chocolatiers. Chocolate ‘made in Belgium’ is characterised by a higher chocolate content than in other countries. The minimum level is 43%. Plus, the chocolate has to be 100% pure cocoa butter, with no added vegetable fats. Leonidas guarantees that its chocolate contains no palm oil.


100% pure cocoa butter
Palm oil free






The cocoa beans which Belgian chocolate is made from are of premium quality and roasted with ultimate care. And Belgian chocolates are made in Belgium, naturally! Each chocolate is a true work of art created by our Master Chocolatiers. They are a subtle blend of aromas and flavours, where the taste of Belgian chocolate is paired with fruits, flowers and spices. Visually, we’re talking sought-after aesthetics. When you open a box of Leonidas Belgian chocolates, your eyes will shine with delight!

The global success of Belgian chocolate

Leonidas has been an undisputed success for more than 100 years. Impeccable quality at an affordable price is what makes Leonidas a world-renowned brand. As proof, our brand is present in 40 countries, with around 1,200 franchised Leonidas shops. Our shops sell our great classics, like the famous Manon, our chocolate bars and tablets as well as our seasonal collections (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, etc.).

To discover the all-consuming bliss of Belgian chocolate and the joy of sharing it, visit your nearest Leonidas shop. You can also get our sweet chocolate treats delivered right to your door by ordering online in our e-shop.