Kägi has been making the world häppier with Swiss quality since 1934. And it delights us to recount the eventful history of the company to you here.
With prudence and foresight, Otto Kägi senior purchased the Hecht property in Lichtensteig. It contained a bakery-patisserie and a restaurant. He lived in this large house together with six children. The Kägi success story was able to begin.
Otto Kägi was unique – a pioneer who saw that the key to success lays in quality: the quality of his products, but also of the services that he offered his customers. His approach was not simply to wait behind the counter for customers to arrive, but instead to take his products to them. In the beginning, Otto Kägi pedalled countless kilometres on his bicycle to deliver the delicious biscuits that he had made himself with great passion. His three sons, Otto, Eugen and Alfred, who later took over the Kägi company, also inherited his entrepreneurial, inquisitive and avant-garde spirit.
Using manual methods only – with so-called waffle irons – production was able to be increased from 100 kg to 600 kg in the first two years.
The subtle balance between the various ingredients was, and continues to be perfect to this day: the wafer sheet must not taste overly sweet, nor should the triple-layered cream filling dominate.
These delicious wafers are the result of the fine art of arriving at perfect proportions for each of the different ingredients. Even exotic flavours feature amongst Kägi's products today. Our traditional flavours, however, continue to remain the favourites of connoisseurs all around the world.
The company was extremely successful. "Although success was never an end in itself", as Alfred Kägi emphasises. Nevertheless, the Kägi company became a victim of its own success: because of the high amount of manual work involved in production, the limits of what was possible were soon reached.
The ovens operated round the clock, the bakers were no longer able to produce the company's products quickly enough. Demand for the delicious bakery products rose and rose. Frequently, the customers who arrived shortly before the bakery closed were too late: the shelves had long since been emptied.
A larger factory was constructed to satisfy the tremendous demand. The first delivery van replaced Otto Kägi's legendary bicycle.
The wafer baking ovens provided the much needed increase in capacity.
Thanks to the automated production of wafers, overall production was
able to be increased many times over. The number of employees increased
After many experiments with different recipes and the necessary
technical preparatory work, the installation of a special machine
allowed wafers to be produced with a chocolate coating. A key challenge
that still exists today lied in giving chocolate the best possible flow
properties during its production process. The wafers need to be
completely covered with chocolate in the shortest possible time. What's
more, the temperature control needs to be just right. This allows the
cocoa butter to precrystallise properly; this is critically important to
give chocolate an appealing sheen and good storage properties.
From this point onwards, the crisp chocolate-covered wafers underwent
automated packaging. This was a tremendous help – since there were
still many individual production steps that needed to be completed by
hand with great care and attention.
The ever-increasing demand led to the construction of a new factory building on the present site after only five years.
The Kägi brothers invested in the modernisation and enlargement of the production site.
The wafer specialties were a huge success and became renowned far beyond the borders of the Toggenburg. This worldwide popularity of their products far exceeded the expectations of the Kägi brothers. The first export shipment left Lichtensteig on 21 February 1956, to be loaded onto a freighter destined for Los Angeles via the Panama Canal.
A memorable event – Kägi Söhne AG had become one of the pioneers in the export of speciality biscuit products.
Years of research and countless trials with various recipes were necessary. But success arrived in 1958: the first Kägi in the shape of two bars rolled off the belt. It marked the start of commercial production for the Kägi, which continues to this day with the Kägi still true to its original appearance.
Kägi – the light and crisp wafer – is made from a dough that is unbelievably light in texture, and then given a triple-layered unique cream filling. Finally, this airy, filled wafer is given a heavenly chocolate coating.
The Kägi is a delicious, delicate work of art that evokes the sweet memories of childhood. The fact that this complicated structure doesn't crumble after the first bite is remarkable and solely attributable to Kägi's confectioners.
The Kägi brothers agree on how the famous wafer speciality (also known as the Kägi fret in German) came to be named – the French word for wafer "gaufrette" was simply shortened and added – but not on the original idea that led to its creation.
Two versions have currency: according to the first, the idea stems from a childhood experience in Zurich where wafers were eaten with pieces of chocolate.
The second version has it that the Kägi was the result of a discussion between Otto senior and his sons during the preparations for a trade fair in Basel. Back then, the contentious point was whether coating the wafers with chocolate – especially for this event – would be possible.
The chocolate coating that is made in house at Kägi is a source of particular pride, because our chocolate specialists set themselves the highest standards. To obtain a smooth, perfect chocolate, the cocoa liquor that has been produced in house is ground finely in a five-roll grinder, after which conching (refinement) takes place for at least 48 hours in one of the 18 longitudinal conches. This gentle production process ensures that the chocolate’s aroma develops fully and is critical in making the chocolate truly exquisite. Our considerable patience and diligence here results in Swiss chocolate – also termed couverture – that is truly exceptional.
Legend has it that the development of the conching technique was attributable to an accident. At the end of the 19th century, a renowned Bernese chocolatier was said to have forgotten to switch off his roller for 72 hours. On returning, he was supposed to have found a cocoa liquor of exquisite flavour and appearance.
Otto Kägi senior passes away aged 75 years. His sons now take over every aspect of running the business.
The company meant everything to the three Kägi brothers. It is a success story written by single-minded entrepreneurs who set about their daily work with enthusiasm and passion, and who regard the results of their production with heart-felt pride.
And their passion is also infectious. From their beginnings as an insiders’ tip in the Toggenburg, Kägi's delicious products blossomed into a confectionary name... and their popularity far exceeded the expectations of the Kägi brothers. Thanks to high quality standards and on-going marketing campaigns, the Toggenburg specialities already enjoyed an outstanding reputation worldwide in the early years.
Otto, Alfred and Eugen Kägi sell their life's work that was founded
with passion in 1934 to Valora Holding AG in Bern. They leave the
running of the business, yet continue to live nearby.
The turn of the millennium marked the start of a modern era for the
Toggenburg-based company. The existing buildings were enlarged, the
machinery was replaced, all of the product packaging was redesigned. The
focus of Kägi as a company was directed to the future, without
sacrificing its soul in the process.
Kägi opened a factory store at the production location in Lichtensteig, Canton of St. Gallen.
The crispy-light Kägi bar celebrates its 50-year anniversary.
The anniversary was commemorated at a glittering event together with
business partners, customers and employees. Extensive celebrations with
gripping entertainment were held on a paddle steamer, in the mountains
and as part of an "open day" at the company.
On 4 February 2010, the Swiss company Burger & Söhne AG, which is
active in the fast-moving consumer goods sector, acquired the
Toggenburg-based producer of wafers and biscuits. This returns Kägi
Söhne AG to being part of a family business again.
Kägi Söhne AG launched Kägi Dark and Kägi Dark mini – crispy
chocolate wafers and the legendary Kägi filling covered with the finest
home-made plain dark couverture.
Kägi products have also enjoyed widespread popularity in Asia and the
Middle East for many years. That's why Kägi opened offices in Hongkong
and Dubai. It allowed Kägi to be even closer to consumers as well as its
The entire product range is released with a new, fresh and
contemporary look. This updated brand identity is also intended to
strengthen the core competencies and further promote the Kägi brand at a
In January 2014 Kägi launched the “Kägi Swiss Quality”.This represents a significant further step towards sustainability.
Kägi products have shone in their new splendour since the beginning of the year. The lettering now looks more modern and Kägi‘s place of origin is now visible on the packaging: the Churfirsten mountains – the emblem of the Toggenburg.
In the spring of 2015, the shop at the Kägi factory in Lichtensteig was enlarged, modernised and converted into a brand shop. The Kägi Häppiness Shop was re-opened on 7 March.