The Misses of Swiss

While writing about the Double Double burger, I did a little research on the topic of Swiss Miss hot chocolate mix. The first hit on Google was a link to Swiss-Miss.com, which is the title of Tina Roth Eisenberg’s blog and design studio. It wasn’t what I was looking for, but it proved very interesting and I’ve since added it to my list of RSS feeds.

Next, I found the entry for ConAgra Food’s website, the company that distributes Swiss Miss. It included a few short blurbs about the product and its history, which I’ve copied below:

“Created with a blend of rich, dark European cocoas for real chocolate taste and flavor, Swiss Miss is America’s preferred brand of hot chocolate. It is available in regular and no-sugar-added formulas, with or without real marshmallows. Warm up with Swiss Miss any time.”

I don’t know about you, but as a guy, when I hear or think about “Swiss Miss,” my brain conjures up the stereotypical image of an Octoberfest barmaid. And lederhosen. And Ricola cough drops. Those are Swiss, right? All I really know about the Swiss is that they make good watches, they’re historically neutral in war time, and I like their cheese (especially on the Double Double).

“Anthony R. Sanna left Sicily when he was 13. It was the 1890s and he headed for New York alone on a ship. Armed with only a third-grade education when he arrived, he eventually became a national authority on dairy activities. His sons developed several dried milk and dairy products, based on their father’s patents, and the government was a huge customer during World War II.”

When I read the line about Mr. Sanna becoming “a national authority on dairy activities,” I couldn’t help but wonder what that meant. How does a Sicilian-born immigrant with a third-grade education arrive in New York and take the dairy world by storm? Why not open up a pizza joint or run a protection racket? In any case, Mr. Sanna’s story is an interesting one, and he succeeded in milking the American Dream (excuse the pun) and churning it (sorry) to yield impressive results.

“In the ’50s, they added sugar and cocoa to their dry mixes and developed one of the first full-flavored dry cocoa mixes. Swiss Miss originally was served across America’s skies to airline passengers. Frequent fliers took a liking to the cocoa, and when they began to look for it in grocery stores, the Sanna family was more than happy to accommodate them.”

These blurbs from ConAgra Foods represent the CliffsNotes edition of all things Swiss Miss. I was curious and wanted to know more (especially regarding the name of the product), so I ventured over to Wikipedia and read the full entry. It’s a bit lengthy, but if you’ve got the time, it’s a very informative read. The following is a collection of facts I found interesting:

  • Swiss Miss was first sold as Brown Swiss (the “Swiss” bit owing to a breed of dairy cow).
  • Sanna’s son Charles created Swiss Miss as a means to utilize leftover, excess cream product.
  • Swiss Miss was the first mix that could be made with water instead of milk.
  • Sanna Dairies sold cream to the Campbell Soup and Hershey’s Chocolate companies.
  • Anthony Sanna dreamed of someday working with all four of his sons in the company (Leon, Charles, Bartel, and Tony) and by 1946, his dream came true.

Actress Sienna Miller likes cocoa, too.

Speaking of dreams come true, there’s never a more romantic time of year than winter. Christmas has come and gone, but everyone is wrapped up in scarves and overstuffed jackets to keep warm. With so many people indoors, it’s no surprise that winter is also the season when a lot of people get sick.

Thankfully, there’s Ricola cough drops for that. After you and your special someone share an exquisite meal of bratwurst and Swiss cheese, curl up beside the fire and sip your Swiss Miss hot cocoa from a stout beer mug. As the Swiss-made mantle clock gently chimes midnight, you know this is a moment you’ll never forget.

Your significant other leans forward, then pauses awkwardly.

“Are you wearing lederhosen?”

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