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This chocolate shop helped young people send secret love messages to each other in 19th century

In the 19th century, the rules of dating were strict but this chocolate shop provided a secret way for lovers to deliver messages.

This chocolate shop helped young people send secret love messages to each other in 19th century
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Cottonbro Studio; Smithsonian Magazine | Eric Stutzenberger

A quaint German cafe filled with chocolates and love notes sounds like something out of a of a romance movie. However, this is a very real fixture preserved by several generations of the Knosel family in Heidelberg, Germany. Located along the Neckar River, Heidelberg has developed a global reputation for romance and is known as a lively and loveable city, per their website. But Cafe Knosel is among it's most whimsical attractions. 

Representative Image Source: Pexels | cottonbro studio
Representative Image Source: Pexels | cottonbro studio

Established in 1863 by master chocolatier Fridolin Knosel, the cafe's chocolate has attracted lovers to the town for over a century. The chocolate in question, known as the "Studentenkuss" or "Student kiss," can be easily recognized thanks to its bright red wrapping with the outline of a man and woman about to kiss, and is made with praline nougat on a wafer covered in dark chocolate and is. Though it orginated at Cafe Knosel, the chocolate is now sold by "Studentkusshaus" down the street and attracts locals and tourists.

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The chocolate is "a sweet symbol of the city and a charming souvenir," Steffen Schmid, project manager of Heidelberg Marketing, told Smithsonian Magazine. The cafe was the oldest confectioner's store and is a popular meeting place among the town's residents, especially students. "Everyone liked Fridolin Knösel, the witty, dedicated chocolatier and master confectioner, and his exquisite creations. In particular, the young ladies attending Heidelberg's finishing school loved his sweet chocolate delights and were frequent customers, much to the delight of many students of the university, who would also flock to the store," the website reads. "Alas, their ever-watchful governesses were never far away."

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In the 19th century, when the industrialist's sons came to town to complete their education, and women came to join finishing schools, the cafe became the perfect place for young people to meet. At that time, parents used to send money to innkeepers, restaurants and cafes so students wouldn't have to spend all of their allowance on it. Several young men went to the cafe to see if they could meet someone they liked. The rules of dating were strict at the time. A young man would order any cake a lady fancied and give it to her or her governess for their approval. Once the man got permission, the couple would go to a separate room and get to know each other better. However, when parents came to know about this, they put a stop to it and the governesses became much stricter.


Eventually, the love birds found an inconspicuous way to send their sweet message in the form of a Studentenkuss. The website states about the invention of Studentenkuss, "Ingenious as he was, one day, he created a particularly delicious chocolate delight, which he impishly called the 'Studentenkuss.' Given as a present, it was such an exquisite, gallant token of affection that not even the chaperones could object." Fitting that the chocolate was also featured in a Hallmark movie called "A Heidelberg Holiday."


Much has changed since the days of Knosel, but his descendants still run a chocolate shop that sells Studentenkuss, keeping the original recipe in mind and watched over carefully by 70-year-old Lisolette Knosel, the last descendant in the business. Locals, tourists and celebrities alike still frequent the shop, including Michelle Obama and the Princess of Wales Catherine. The place is deeply etched in several love stories that have taken place across decades.

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