Not a sweet Christmas this year in Hungary as chocolate sales fall
Linda Kennedy in Budapest


Hungary's chocolate sales have been steadily falling, despite Christmas usually being a sweet spot for the country's confectioners. 

Typically, eight million chocolate Santas and 3,500 tonnes of szaloncukor, the country's traditional tree-hanging holiday candy, are bought every year. But in 2020, orders of traditional treats are down. 



KockaCsoki is a confectionery workshop and café in Budapest where autistic workers make and box chocolate. "We see chocolate consumption changing," café founder Akos Denes told CGTN Europe. "The tendency is people seek higher quality, but they purchase less of it."

Hanging foil-wrapped szaloncukor on the Christmas tree is a long-held tradition, using ribbon or string to add the sweets among the garlands and baubles. But the Association of Hungarian Confectionery Manufacturers said orders of szaloncukor are down 10 percent this year.


Workers at KockaCsoki are also creating Christmas lollipops this year. /CGTN

Workers at KockaCsoki are also creating Christmas lollipops this year. /CGTN


Other traditional favorites are also falling in popularity, like advent chocolates for calendars counting down to Christmas. In the chocolate museum at Szamos, one of Budapest's oldest confectioners, chocolate master Luca Kuron makes marzipan szaloncukor, a classical version of the chocolate.

"The traditional thing is the marzipan, because that was the first and is always not the best but one of the best szaloncukor," explains Kuron. "Nowadays we have modern things. For example, some orange crème or vanilla caramel. In modern times, modern flavors go everywhere."

In the Szamos shop below, customers can select from boxes of szaloncukor with an array of updated fillings. They hope the traditional Hungarian sweets will survive and that they, as chocolate makers, can too.


Szamos shop has been making szaloncukor since the 1950s. /CGTN

Szamos shop has been making szaloncukor since the 1950s. /CGTN

"We also feel the effects of the pandemic – we've lost 40 percent of our turnover," said Laszlo Szamos, the owner of the outlet that bears his name. "Thanks to our seasonal Christmas products, we can compensate partly for this but no one knows what the future brings. 

"Szaloncukor is something really Hungarian. Even its wrapping is unique. I don't know where it originates but I'm sure that this tradition will stay with us. There are lots of ways to decorate the Christmas tree but szaloncukor must be always there."

At the window of Szamos café, which looks onto Kossuth Lajos Square and the famous Hungarian Parliament building, handmade szaloncukor are tied artfully onto the Christmas tree, part of festive decorations they fervently hope will entice customers into the shop.

Like many sectors in Budapest, the confectionery business is hanging by a thread, unlike quite as many szaloncukor.

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