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Guittard Chocolate

The History of Guittard Chocolate

Guittard Logo
You don’t have to travel halfway around the world to find the world’s best chocolate – though this was exactly how Etienne Guittard discovered his true calling. After arriving in San Francisco from France for the California gold rush, the trained chocolate maker discovered the French chocolate he’d brought to trade for mining supplies was its own kind of gold. After going back to France and saving up enough money for equipment, he opened Guittard Chocolate Company on San Francisco’s Sansome Street in 1868. Ever since then, Guittard chocolate has been the choice of millions looking to eat, drink and bake with some of the most delicious chocolate known to man.

San Francisco | 1868

Guittard 1848 Gold Rush Container


A California Gold Rush Discovery

In the midst of the 1849 California Gold Rush, Etienne Guittard ventured from Tournus, France to the Barbary Coast in hopes of striking it rich. He originally brought chocolate from his uncle’s factory to trade for mining supplies, although soon discovered that wealthy miners were willing to pay a premium price for his luxury treats. Etienne took this knowledge and sailed back to France to finesse his “gold” craft, and in 1868, he returned to San Francisco and opened Guittard Chocolate on Sansome Street. In addition to chocolate, Etienne also sold coffee, tea and spices.

Guittard 1868 Etienne Guittard

Guittard 1899 Burgeoning Businesses


Burgeoning Businesses

Etienne guided the company from the get-go and remained at the helm 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. The brand played an integral role in the growth of not only the cocoa industry, but the entire business community of San Francisco.



Sweet Ground Cocoa is introduced, inspired from the Mayan culture. This product instantly became a popular hit at the Cliff House in San Francisco.

Guittard 1900 Sweet Ground Cocoa


Guittard 1915 Coffee Thumbnail


San Francisco World’s Fair


Stock Market Crash & Great Depression


Opening of the Golden Gate Bridge

The Great Earthquake

In 1906, San Francisco was hit by the “Great Earthquake,” which to this day still ranks as one of the most significant earthquakes in recorded history. The quake was felt from southern Oregon to south of Los Angeles and as far inland as central Nevada. With San Francisco being the epicenter, much of Guittard’s factory on Sansome street was destroyed. Etienne’s son, Horace C. Guittard, was in charge during the time of the quake, and with help from the Brandenstein’s of MJB Coffee, Guittard Chocolate got back on their feet. Guittard moved to Main Street, and focused manufacturing solely on chocolate.

Guittard 1937 Horace C. Guittard
San Francisco WWII


World War II

During World War II, the San Francisco Bay Area became an important part of America’s “Arsenal of Democracy.” This caused significant changes in the Bay Area, enough that the war years came to be known as the “Second Gold Rush.” During that time, the area served as the arsenal’s shipyard, coastal fortress, and a pipeline to the Pacific.

Meanwhile, chocolate manufacturing was considered an “essential” industry (as it is today). Horace A. stayed back at home to run the business, and in doing so, provided chocolate and cocoa powder to the military.




Craft in an Era of Automation

Guittard remained on Main Street until the family sold the property to the city to make room for the Embarcadero Freeway. It was at that time that Horace A. moved the company to its new home of Burlingame, California. While chocolate manufacturing became highly automated, it remains one of the few industries that still requires an artisanal and flexible approach. To this day, Guittard still uses vintage equipment to retain the highest flavors, staying true to their roots.


Guittard 1955 Horace A. Guittard
Guittard 1967 Family Breakfast Cocoa


Summer of Love in San Francisco


The Fourth Generation

Guittard 1975 Five Guys

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


BEHOLD! Guittard’s Original Gold Bag Debuted: Semisweet Chocolate Chips

Guittard 1978 OG Semisweet Chips


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.

2000: Guittard Launches Collection Etienne

Guittard 2000 Collection Etienne Debut

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 Cocoa Crop


Guittard Chocolate Studio moves from NYC to LA


Guittard Celebrates 150 Years

Obsessed with flavor and faithful to the craft, Guittard hand-selects the finest cocoa, passes down time-honored recipes, and tirelessly innovates their techniques. 150 yeas years isn’t just a testament to longevity, but also a mark of passion.
Guittard 150 YEars

In turning 150, Guittard was inspired by this vintage ad illustrating their original sourcing. Early on, most Guittard cocoa was sourced from the Pacific, giving their chocolate a flavor unique to the West Coast. As a tribute to their roots, Guittard introduced the Eureka Works blend.

Guittard OG Eureka Works Logo

Guittard Eureka Works First Choice
Guittard Eureka Works Map Overlay
Guittard 2018 G A & J Guittard


Gary, Amy & Jesse Guittard

Guittard’s craft is as much about making beautifully tasting chocolate as it is about supporting the people and preserving the places behind what they product. As the fifth generation joins the company, Guittard continues to find more ways to support, explore and grow with the extended family of customers, co-workers, farmers, and suppliers.



Guittard is World-Renowned

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World Wide Chocolate

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