Jean Neuhaus Junior: the inventor of Belgian pralines
His grandfather founded his own pharmacy in 1857 in the Galerie de la Reine, a section of the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. He originally sold pharmaceutical sweets: cough drops, licorice to cure stomach pain, marshmallows, etc. He got the idea to cover up the unpleasant taste of medication by adding a thin coat of chocolate.
In 1912, his grandson Jean Neuhaus Jr (1877-1953) invented the praline – the first chocolate to feature a soft filling.
Jean Neuhaus Jr's wife, Louise Agostini, created a sophisticated box to tastefully and delicately display pralines, showcasing them like small jewels. This box, known as the "ballotin", would become the ultimate gift. In the hearts of Belgians, the box of pralines remains an exceptional gift and still is, for quite a few of us, as great a gift to offer as it is to receive.
As of today, Jean Neuhaus Jr, whose 1,500 shops are found in 50 countries, can pride himself on remaining 100% Belgian. In 2010, according to Choprabisco – the Royal Belgian Association of the Biscuit, Chocolate, Pralines, and Confectionary – the Belgian chocolate and praline industry was made up of 264 businesses. It also represents 13.2% of the Belgian food industry's total revenues and 14.6% of its exports.