On Chocolate and Noble Failure

 By Paul Matalucci, ABC

I just returned from two weeks in Europe where we made a stop at the factory for Zotter Chocolate in Reigersberg, Austria, and their amazing edible zoo and farm restaurant.

Zotter has turned a small patch of countryside into a paradise of cultivated nature and cleverness.

Entering the park, guests pass through The Cemetery of Ideas, with glossy brown tombstones that took us a minute to register as large chocolate bars.

The inscriptions are in German, but our hosts translated. One dead idea was for “Peanut Butter and Ketchup.” Another was for “Beetlebean-Roulade with Coriander.”

(I’m good with not knowing about beetlebeans.)

Another was for “Hempcake,” the inevitable and efficient pairing of hemp and chocolate. (Was that really such a bad idea?)

Sweet Potato, Coffee, Rosemary (2007–2009)

The cemetery is full of tombstones, and freshly moved earth suggested that new ones are added from time to time.

What a great way, I thought, to honor noble failure. How many companies can actually laugh at the ideas that didn’t work out, let alone share them with visitors?

In hindsight, I wish I had stopped to ask an employee what it was like to work for Zotter. But even without confirmation, I saw evidence of a culture that encourages risk-taking with a sense of wit and humanity.

More like Zotter, please!


Cigarbrandy with Cognac, died as an idea because tobacco is unhealthy (1998); Strawberry-Lobster, the idea had to die so the lobster wouldn’t (1994)


Chocolate-inspired art for some visual dessert.







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