Brussels Airport is one of Europe’s 25 busiest, and planes arrive here from all over that continent as well as from cities such as New York, Montreal and Hong Kong. However, it’s also a special place for chocoholics. Why? It’s known as the top seller of chocolate in the world. More than 4,000 pounds are sold in this airport every day, about 3-1/3 pounds every minute.
Belgium has long been known as the capital of chocolate, so it makes sense for visitors to this beautiful country to be welcomed by quite a bit of this tasty treat before even leaving the airport and making their way to central Brussels and the rest of the country.
It is believed that chocolate first made its appearance here in 1635 when the abbot of Baudeloo Abbey purchased some, and it was brought to Ghent. In the 1800s, the country started importing chocolate in more significant numbers with much of it coming from Congo, one of its colonies.
However, it wasn’t until 1912 when Belgium first gained a reputation for chocolate. That year, the praline was invented by Belgian chocolatier Jean Neauhaus II. That achievement brought the inventor fame and, for many, cemented the connection between chocolate and this nation of 11 million. This is also around the time when Belgium started to focus on exporting chocolate, not importing it.
Today, more than 300 million pounds of chocolate are produced in Belgium every year, and more than 8 percent of the workforce in this country works with chocolate.
Fortunately, chocolate lovers who somehow get out of the airport without having purchased any will also receive plenty of further opportunities to do so as they explore the country. More than 2,000 chocolate shops are scattered across Belgium, a place that is slightly smaller than Maryland.