If you’ve ever traveled to Israel, visited a kosher supermarket or even just have some Israeli cousins who visit from time to time, you may have encountered Elite chocolate, Israel’s premier and much-beloved chocolate company. Think of them like the Israeli version of Hershey’s, minus the theme park, with (slightly) tastier offerings.
We are pretty obsessed with Israeli chocolate over here at The Nosher and we even set out to the arduous task of ranking our favorite kinds of Israeli chocolate. And who can blame us — even Gal Gadot and Jimmy Fallon love Israeli chocolate.
But it’s impossible to go through a list of Israeli chocolate bars without noticing the dominance of Elite, which actually has a fascinating history.
Elite was started in the 1920s in Latvia, when the company was originally called “Laima,” which means luck in Latvian. By the 1930s, Laima was exporting its sweets to France, the UK and Egypt, among others. But in 1933, with the Nazis’ rise to power, one of the company’s three partners, Eliahu Promchenko, moved to Israel with his family. And he brought with him machines and, more importantly, experts in sweets.
In 1934, the company opened a factory near Tel Aviv. During World War II, Elite won a contract to supply chocolate to the British army and Allied forces stationed in the area. Promchenko even opened a factory and a store in Beirut, but managed to close it before Israel’s War of Independence in 1948. In 1958, Elite started making instant coffee, a recognizable brand in Israel and on the world kosher scene.
In the 1970s, Elite merged with Liber, another sweets factory, which meant the company now was selling favorites likes Mekupelet chocolate bars, the iconic Israeli gum brand Alma and even became the licensed seller in Israel for Bazooka gum. In 1997, Elite was purchased by Strauss, which is currently the largest food company in Israel, And it’s still making Israel’s most beloved chocolate bars.
Hungry for more? Watch our short video, but be ready for the chocolate cravings.