Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

The chocolate makers that left a bad taste

There’s a saying in Italy ‘like a chocolate maker’. But rather than being used to express joy and the art of sweetness, it’s implies someone has left a bad impression.

The idiom dates back to early nineteenth century Turin, where chocolate-makers were highly respected and often some of the wealthiest craftsmen in the city. Unfortunately, rather than adopting a modest lifestyle, many spent extravagantly and flaunted their wealth. At a time when only royalty would travel by horse and carriage, some chocolate makers invested in fancy carriages with four horses pulling them.

One such chocolatier was summoned to the court of King Carlo Felice of Savoy and ordered to only use two horses, so as not to upstage him. The king was equally irked when, appearing at a royal inauguration, he spotted a chocolatier in a carriage more beautiful and ornate than his own. He cried out a protest to the effect of:  “When I go out in public, I do not wish people to think I am a mere chocolate maker.” And thus, the idea of a chocolate maker being of poor taste was born.