Ludwig Stollwerck

Ludwig Stollwerck was one of the leading chocolate manufacturers of the German Empire.


He was born the fourth son of the pastry chef Franz Stollwerck and his wife Anna Sophia in Cologne. Franz Stollwerck had established a bakery in Cologne in 1839, in which he made pastries and confectionary, as well as the Stollwerck “Brustbonbons”, which were so popular at that time. A supplier to the Prussian court from 1847, he also ran cafés, restaurants and theatres, including the "Deutsche Kaffeehaus", where the democratic circle of Cologne met in the revolutionary year of 1848. At the end of 1868 he took his oldest sons Nikolaus, Peter Joseph and Heinrich into the company with a partnership agreement dated 16th December (Franz Stollwerck & Sons); the cooperation began on 01/01/1869. Due to familial conflicts, the sons set up an independent company in 1871 with their own factory (Gebr. Stollwerck, then from 1902 Gebr. Stollwerck AG). When Franz Stollwerck died in 1876, the plants were combined under the management of the brothers. The product range in those days comprised cocoa, chocolates of various qualities, pralines, sweets and semi-finished products (chocolate, nougat and marzipan in bulk as well as waffles and biscuits).

Due to the entrepreneurial failures of the father and his disputes with his older brothers, Ludwig experienced an insecure childhood and youth marked by family conflicts. He initially went through a commercial apprenticeship in the paternal sweet-making business before assuming responsibility at Gebr. Stollwerck for sales, advertising and export. Through striking advertising and sales methods such as the design of collector’s albums with a series of pictures on historical or scientific topics, and the sale of chocolate in vending machines, he turned Stollwerck chocolates into a bestseller. He deliberately chose to work with contemporary artists in the field of advertising.

In 1895, Ludwig Stollwerck set up a separate company, the Deutsche Automaten Gesellschaft (DAG, Cologne), to sell chocolates in vending machines. Vending machines were increasingly being built for other items (for example, matches, Eau de Cologne, soap) as well as service machines (including weighing scales and automatic telescopes). In the same year, he founded Deutsche Edison Phonographs Gesellschaft mbH in Cologne, which was dedicated to the sale of phonographs - devices that were being built either as dictation or music phonographs. It was in this context that Stollwerck’s "talking chocolate" gained fame - records made of chocolate, which could be played on toy phonographs developed by Stollwerck together with Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931). In April 1896, he also brought the first film recordings to Cologne, since he bought the usage rights of the cinematograph from the brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière from Lyon, a projection device which for the first time projected images onto a screen.

His high level of interest in the automative business was also reflected in his supervisory board shareholdings. For years Ludwig Stollwerck was a member of Telefunken AG (Berlin), whose early ventures included the experiments of the German physicist Ferdinand Braun (1850-1918) with radio telegraphy, which he supported financially. During the First World War, he was engaged in the telegraph and telephoto transmission companies of the Berliner Curt Stille, companies that marked the start of the radio and television technology. Stollwerck enjoyed a special friendship with William Hesketh Lever (1851-1925), the English soap manufacturer from Port Sunlight, Liverpool, and founder of Lever Brothers Ltd., which produced its Sunlight soap (later Germanised to Sunlicht) in Mannheim from 1907. Lever’s company merged in 1929/1930 with the Dutch margarine producer Margarie Unie to form the Unilever Group.

Ludwig Stollwerck represented the interests of chocolate producers in the Association of German Chocolate Manufacturers, founded in 1877, of which he was Chairman from 1911 to 1922. Originally founded with the goal of monitoring the production of high-quality chocolate, Stollwerck determined to fix the prices in the chocolate industry, which was a problem given the fluctuations in the price of raw cocoa on the world market. In 1907 he was able to bring together the largest German chocolate manufacturers in the Cocoa Purchasing Company, Hamburg. In addition, he also thought about setting up a similar international organisation with British and American manufacturers – efforts that were interrupted by the First World War.

Ludwig Stollwerck died in 1922 after a short illness. He was married to Maria Schlagloth (1859-1919) from Cologne, with whom he had three sons and two daughters. Of the three sons Friedrich, Paul and Karl Maria, only Friedrich remained in the company. In addition to Ludwig, after the founding of the Gebr. Stollwerck Nikolaus, Peter Joseph and Heinrich also stepped up. Nikolaus Stollwerck initiated the foundation of the Association of German Chocolate Manufacturers in 1877. Peter Joseph and Heinrich founded the social facilities of Stollwerck such as company funds and insurance companies as well as a factory choir. Heinrich Stollwerck devoted himself to production technology and built his own machines, some of which, like the horizontally arranged roller mill of 1873, were also patented and distributed in the company’s own machine factory.

The death of Ludwig and his younger brother Carl heralded the end of the success story of Stollwerck AG. The heirs did not develop any decisive entrepreneurial impulses and the family withdrew from the Board of Directors in the beginning of the 1930s


Source: (retrieved on: 24.09.2018)


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