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Origins of the name Praslin
The praline, first and foremost, is a sweet consisting of an almond coated in cooked sugar, which can be coloured and flavoured in various ways.
It is often said that the first recipe was invented in the 17th century by the head chef of César-Gabriel, Duc de Choiseul, Marshall of France, Count Plessis-Praslin, known as Marshall de Plessis-Praslin.
This praline was then crushed to become the praline used in patisserie, or ground and mixed with chocolate to form the praline mixture that forms the basis of the Belgian praline. Belgian pralines were invented and given their name in 1912 by Jean Neuhaus, a great Belgian confectioner.
Menier: the inventor of the chocolate bar
The third child of a family of merchants, Jean-Antoine Brutus Menier (1795-1853) became a chemist in 1816 in the Paris district of the Marais. From his dispensary in Rue du Puits-Qui-Parle, he supplied the powders used by pharmacists, including chocolate, sold as a health product.
Apothecaries used it to offset the bitterness of some medicines. In 1836, Jean-Antoine the elder, working in his pharmaceutical factory in Noisiel, in Seine-et-Marne, invented the first bar of chocolate, made up of six semi-cylindrical bars. The idea was to revolutionise consumer habits.
His son, Emile-Justin (1826-1881) devoted himself exclusively from 1853 onwards, to the industrial manufacture of chocolate. By 1862, the Menier multinational operation controlled the cocoa chain, from the harvest of the beans, right through to the distribution of chocolate bars to retailers. The family owned cocoa plantations in Nicaragua and chartered merchant ships. By 1889, having won three Grands Prix and five Gold Medals, the company was producing half of the chocolate consumed in France. The brand also set up shop in London and New York. Towards the end of the 19th century, the sons of Emile-Justin Menier, Henri (1853-1913), Gaston (1855-1899) and Albert (1858-1899) were tackling the competition head-on, using the slogan: “Avoid counterfeits!”. In 1988, Menier became part of Nestlé.