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Wedel’s tenement at Szpitalna street in Warsaw, 1927  

THE FIRST CHOCOLATE LOUNGE


I liked to immerse into the atmosphere of the world that was accessible only in the Wedel shop.

Stanisław Iwaszkiewicz

 

In 1893 Emil Wedel built a tenement at Szpitalna street in Warsaw. Since then on the building delights with its artistic decor and beautifully furnished interior in which one will find baroque stuccoworks, cristal mirrors, mahogany furniture and old drawings and pictures. A century ago, Emil Wedel opened a manufacture of chocolate in the back of the building and brand-name shop and Chocolate Lounges - in the front. While you can frequently come accross such traditional specialist shops abroad, you will not find many of them in Poland.

As early as at the beginning of 20th century the shop and Chocolate Lounges at Szpitalna street began to be regarded as exceptional and this became evident in the citizens' protest once plans for the shop's redecoration were made public. At the end of 1930s Jan Wedel planned to redecorate the shop and adjust it to modern European standards. It brought about a storm, with protests being supported by writers and journalists, including those working for influential Wiadomosci Literackie. They praised the huge historical value of the postromantic decoration with art-noveau elements and the characteristic 19th century atmosphere of the shop. Consequently, redecoration did not happen and the marvelous and stylish interior brings the atmosphere of old Warsaw to all those who are tasting the exceptional chocolate.

     
 The historical logo of E.Wedel derived from Emil Wedel’s signature  

E.WEDEL SIGNATURE

 

The history of E.Wedel logo is quite unusual. Only a few years after setting up the business, E.Wedel chocolates became so popular, that first imitations were produced illegally. In order to protect his products from the competition, in 1865 Karol Wedel published his statement in local press: „From today onwards, each chocolate bar produced in my factory will be affixed a seal of E. Wedel's factory, and each pound packet will bear my personal signature (...)'. This tradition was later on continued by Karol's son, Emil, whose sophisticated and decorative signature became a widely recognized symbol and is now placed on every product manufactured by the company.

At the beginning of 1950s the name of the factory was changed into Zakład Przemysłu Cukierniczego im. 22 lipca and the original logo was abandoned. However, this resulted in products not being recognized abroad, decline of customers' interest and sales. Consequently, a decision was made to restore the characteristic logo of E.Wedel next to the one of ZPC with a note that Wedel is a former name of the company. The 1989 political transformation in Poland brought the old name back and the historical signature of Emil Wedel again appeared on the products.

     
A competition entry – a poster - sent in to E. Wedel, 1903  By courtesy of the Poster Museum at Wilanów  

E.WEDEL AND ARTISTS


Emil Wedel protected his company from competition not only by signing his products, but also by maintaining the high quality of packaging and commissioning the best Polish artists to work on the design. The company appreciated their talent and invention, which became evident in stunning adverts and modern packaging. In 1920s E.Wedel worked with designers like Zofia Stryjeńska, who designed a number of packagings and decoration of one of Wedel's patisserie. An exceptional example of such cooperation is the white-and-red packaging of Jedyna chocolate bar which has been on offer until now.

There is still more to come. Since the beginning of 20th century Emil and Jan Wedel have been organizing competitions for the best poster promoting the company. In 1930s a number of young and talented Polish poster designers were praised at various events e.g. International Exhibition of Arts and Industry in Paris in 1939 and New York World's Fair. Many of the competition entries, particularly at that time, were true masterpieces and most of them are now collected in the Poster Museum at Wilanów.

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