Roses and chocolates are both well known as romantic gifts. But how would you go the extra mile and turn a romantic gift of chocolates into something even more special? The Italians know how. Because of course they do! You give them Baci. A kiss.
Baci is a truly iconic hazelnut chocolate treat made by the Perugina chocolate company. The was another Italian venture founded in the years after WWI still around to this day.
Baci was created by a master chocolatier named Luisa Spagnoli. And it was very nearly not Baci at all. For this was a time when people tended to be a lot more literal about naming their creations. Hence it’s original name was Cazzotto, or “punch” – since it looked a bit like a clenched fist.
Fortunately, one of the business partners stepped in and asked the obvious question: do we really want customers to walk into a sweet shop and say “per favore, un cazzotto?” “Excuse me, can I have a punch?” That sounds more like a euphemistic line from the Godfather than any innocent request.
So the name was changed to Baci. Asking for a kiss certainly sounded a lot nicer than asking for a punch. And while it may also lead to misunderstandings, they would be of a much more fun and flirtatious nature. And no true Italian is going to ignore the opportunity for some gratuitous flirting!
An Exquisite Marketing Campaign
But Baci needed to be more than merely a great product with a great name to become a world conquering icon. It also required a great marketing campaign. And what it got was one of the most romantic marketing campaigns in history.
According to the official story, Luisa Spagnoli, Baci’s creator, and one of the company’s founders were “clandestine lovers”. Presumeably meaning that one or both of them were married. And that they would exchange love note within the individually wrapped Baci chocolates. Which is definitely an interesting take on an office affair.
In other cultures you might expect an extra marital affair to be judged poorly, and deemed shameful. Especially at the time. But apparently not in Italy, where this clandestine love became the founding myth of Baci’s marketing campaign.
Not only was each Baci individually and exquisitely wrapped, but they also contained a love note like the ones the two lovers used to send each other. That’s right – Italians actually managed to make a gift of chocolate even more romantic! A difficult feat to pull off. As Baci crossed the Atlantic following the Italian diaspora their love notes became bilingual. And then later they were written in the local language of every country in which Baci is now sold.
So come into Limoncello some time and ask for un Baci. Maybe you’ll leave with some chocolates. Or maybe you’ll end up kissing a complete stranger! Fun either way…