The Washington Post

The mountain logo on Toblerone chocolate bars could be replaced. (Stephen Kelly/Bloomberg News)

Toblerone, the chocolate bar known for its distinctive triangular peaks, is losing the Matterhorn mountain from its logo after falling afoul of strict marketing rules on “Swissness.”

Future Toblerone wrappers will feature a generic mountain design instead, after the chocolate bar’s American owner, Mondelez, decided to shift some production to the Slovakian capital of Bratislava this year.

The packaging redesign “introduces a modernized and streamlined mountain logo that aligns with the geometric and triangular aesthetic,” a Mondelez spokesperson said in a statement. Toblerone’s distinctively shaped boxes will also be changed to read: “Established in Switzerland,” rather than “of Switzerland.”

Under the “Swissness” legislation, which came into force in Switzerland in 2017, businesses have to show their products are sufficiently “Swiss” to claim that label and to use national symbols of Switzerland. Swissness has long been associated with prestige products such as Swiss watches.

Swiss officials at the time cited studies showing that a Swiss association can add as much as 20 percent to the price tag of a product, or even more for luxury items. The label had been “much coveted and misused,” officials said, at home and abroad, in a way that was damaging to its credibility.

Now, food products must get at least 80 percent of their raw materials from Switzerland to qualify as Swiss-made — or 100 percent in the case of milk and dairy products. (Cocoa is an exception, because it falls into the category of natural items that cannot be produced locally.)

The exact fate of a bear pictured climbing the iconic mountain in the current logo remains unknown. (The bear is partially concealed within the logo, and some customers have apparently been surprised to learn of its existence.) Bern, the Swiss city where the Toblers first opened a candy shop in 1868, is known as the “City of Bears.” According to the company’s statement, “the famous hidden bear” will be retained.

The company’s website states that the more than 100-year-old chocolate bar’s unique triangular shape was inspired by Swiss chocolatier Theodor Tobler’s mountainous homeland — in particular, the 14,690-foot Matterhorn, one of the best-known mountains in the Alps.

The highest mountain in Slovakia — where Toblerone production is shifting — Gerlachovsky stit, is only 8,711 feet. Bratislava is sometimes referred to as “Beauty on the Danube.

It is not the first time Toblerone’s peaks have become ensnared in a vexed political debate. In 2016, the British government was asked to explain why Mondelez had widened the spacing between the chocolate and nougat peaks: Was it Brexit? As it turned out, no. The reduction in the weight of the bars was long-planned and due to the rising price of some ingredients, the company said at the time.

Switzerland is not the only country concerned about safeguarding the authenticity of its products. French producers fought for years to protect the name Champagne from being used by foreign producers — a spat that reared up again in 2021 in Russia.

U.S. appeals court last week ruled that the name “Gruyere” is a common term for cheese made in America and can be used for producers outside of the Gruyère region of Switzerland and France.

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