Karl Fazer was born in Helsinki and studied baking around Europe before opening his own place in 1891. Apart from making candy and chocolate that has become part of the Finnish national identity, he also participated in the 1912 Olympic Games, finishing fifth in the men’s team clay pigeons as a sport shooter. Today when people in Helsinki think chocolate, they think Karl Frazer, and his little pieces of chocolate wrapped in blue paper are both famous and addictive.
The store in central Helsinki is a sweet wonderland. They have a large section at the back that serves a breakfast buffet, obviously very popular with both tourists and locals alike. There is an impressive cake counter, a bakery that sells every type of bread imaginable. On the other side is the coffee and pastry counter with some pretty decadent looking desserts, including one that looked exactly like a mini hamburger. There is a lot of indoor and outdoor seating so it was never a problem to find a spot. The rest of the space is taken up by chocolate and more chocolate; boxes, individually wrapped, colourful containers, caramel and chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, something for everyone.
We came back to Karl Fazer a few times for a hot chocolate. They don’t have their hot chocolates in their normal menu. Instead there is a wall overlooking the seating area, somewhat hidden, which outlines all the hot chocolate offerings that they have. And they have quite a few but you need to ask for them specifically if not what you get is a pretty dull hot chocolate. There were 6 different options with added cinnamon, cayenne, peppermint and alcohol. Each was rich and creamy (and sweet), very decadent yet easy to drink and I enjoyed them all.
Verdict: Just across the street from Karl Frazer is a beautiful park that goes across the downtown area right up to the waterfront. As you leave the shop buy yourself a bag of their famous black licorice and bring it to the park to enjoy. A must visit in Finland, for the chocolate and the licorice. 4.30euros Karl Fazer, Fluuvikatu 3, Helsinki, Finland