Corona, Swiza & Beyond: Our Favorite Old School Egyptian Chocolates

Chocolate is probably one of the most ubiquitous snacks out there. Its everywhere, whether on the shelves of supermarkets and convenience stores in the form of chocolate bars and wafers or served as a dessert in restaurants and cafes. Its popularity is worldwide with many countries wanting in on this addictive snack including Egypt. Way back in 1919, the country dipped its toes into the world of chocolate, opening its very first factory. With today being International Chocolate Day, to celebrate, we thought it would be fun to take a look at Egypt’s classics over the years.

Corona (1919)

Other than sharing its name with the infamous virus, this timeless brand known to any Egyptian has stood the test of time as the oldest chocolate in the country. It began its journey in 1919, when a Greek business man by the name of Tommy Christo founded its factory in Ismailia, churning out its very first chocolate bar known as Rocket; famous for its baby blue wrapping and hard chewy candy filling. Then when Christo opened up a factory in Alexandria, other popular varieties popped up including dark chocolate as well as candy filled varieties like strawberry, mint and coconut.

Via Elsaha

Christo was unlike other factory owners. He wanted chocolate to bring people happiness and believed that if the workers in the factory were unhappy, their somber mood would pass on to the chocolates they were making. So, he actually built a football stadium for the workers to use for breaks. There was a day when a deer appeared and ran around the pitch and that was how the infamous gliding deer became the face of his brand.

Back in the 60s when the Corona brand was at its prime and widely loved by the Egyptian community, the bars were sold for as little as 3 piasters, a scant amount compared to today’s prices. Its still great to see that such an old product is still on Egypt’s shelves and is still in wide acclaim, getting featured on several TV programs like Sahbit El Saada (The Joy Spreader) . For a little fun, you can watch Ahmed El Nadry, Corona’s Marketing Director, having a fun chat with Egypt’s adored host Essad Youniss as she gets nostalgic while biting into her favorites including the mint filled Corona chocolate bar.

Bisco Misr (1957)

Known mainly for its biscuits, Bisco Misr started off its journey in 1957 during the nationalization of Egypt. At that time schools, the military and the general public enjoyed its wide variety of products from their round butter biscuits called Marie to their date filled Datto. Way back then, they also had several factories called Eka that made many snacks including chocolate bars. All the products had the signature Eka brand emblazoned on their packaging.

Chocolate was also later a part of their collection right before 2020 with their release of Cocoa lovers which include their crispy bars filled with either fruit and nut or caramel and cocoa. When it comes to chocolate, Cocoa Lovers is all about experimentation creating everything from chocolate sandwiches to cocoa cookies to mini crunchy chocolate bites filled with hazelnut cream.

Covertina (1963)

Starting all the way back in 1963, for more than 50 years, they have been making their own special batches of chocolates, wafers, toffee, lollipops, bonbons and many other confectionaries. Their products are not just popular in Egypt but even worldwide, getting exported to several countries in Asia, the US, Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

Via Twitter

The brand was especially popular during the 80s and 90s and even made it on some funny commercials. One of the most popular was the hilarious and slightly cringe-worthy commercial called “Covertina Aala El Arees” (Covertina and the Husband).

El Shamadan (1978)

Names like Katakito or Mr. X are no strangers to the Egyptian people. These chocolates were every kids companion while they played at school during the 80s and 90s. You could find them everywhere even today, at small kiosks and supermarkets. The brand made its mark in 1978 when a family by the name of El Kowery opened up the company naming it “ElSHAMADAN Co. For Food Industries S. A. E”.

Via Amazon

Just like Bisco Misr and Corona, they made every kind of snack you can think of whether its wafers and biscuits or cakes and chocolate bars. As with Corona, they may have disappeared for a while yet they did make a come back. Today, you can find many ADs advertising this age old brand including their hilarious re-launch video. Just like Corona, they also made it on Essad Youniss’ show as part of her Sonaa Fe Masr “Invented in Egypt” series to bring into light Egypt’s local products.

Swiza (1992)

Unlike Corona and Bisco Misr, Swiza is strictly a chocolatier specialized in luxury chocolate. It opened its doors in 1992 and changed the dynamics of chocolates in Egypt. Before, chocolate was either sold as a bar or tablet but with Swiza, it took on a new shape and identity. The luxury brand of chocolates was served in boxes or bouquets and became intrinsically linked to special occasions like weddings, graduations and anniversaries.

Every Swiza shop exudes luxury with their small square shaped chocolates exhibited behind a large glass display or decorated atop crystal plates or wedged within a fancy vase. That is why prices can be quite steep and would depend on how many kilos of chocolate are ordered as well as the occasion. Despite the arrival of imported chocolatiers like Patchi, Swiza still holds a special place among the Egyptian community.

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