Our Timeline

Domenico Ghirardelli


Domenico Ghirardelli is born in Rapallo, Italy, to an exotic foods importer and his wife. At a young age, Domenico is introduced to the chocolate and confectionary trade when he apprentices with a local candy maker.


Ghirardelli changes his Italian first name to the Spanish equivalent, Domingo.

Domenico Ghirardelli signature
Illustration of historic Ghirardelli location


Ghirardelli sails to America and opens a general store in Stockton, California, offering supplies and confections to miners. Ghirardelli opens a second store on the corner of Broadway and Battery in San Francisco, which becomes his first establishment in the city.


At Kearny and Washington streets in San Francisco, Ghirardelli opens a confectionary shop, Ghirardely & Girard, which eventually becomes the modern-day Ghirardelli Chocolate Company.

Photo of historic Ghirardelli location
Historic photo of man working at Ghirardelli factory


A Ghirardelli employee discovers that by hanging a bag of chocolate mass in a warm room, the cocoa butter drips out, leaving a residue that can be processed into ground chocolate. This is known as the Broma process and produces a more intense chocolate flavor than other techniques.


Three of Domingo's sons become partners in the business, which ships products throughout the West and to the eastern U.S., China, Japan and Mexico.

Illustration of Ghirardelli Ground Chocolate package
Historic Ghirardelli office


Domingo retires as head of the company, turning over its management to his sons. In 1894 Domingo dies during a trip to Italy.


In need of more space, the company buys the Pioneer Woolen Building on San Francisco's northern waterfront, and manufacturing moves there; this is the present site of Ghirardelli Square.

Illustration of Pioneer Woolen Building on San Francisco's northern waterfront
Photo of San Francisco fire


The great San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906 destroys much of the city, but the Ghirardelli plant is not damaged. Manufacturing operations resume within 10 days after the disaster.


The now-famous Ghirardelli illuminated light bulb sign is created. Visible for miles, the sign becomes a welcome sight to ships passing through the Golden Gate Strait.

Ghirardelli illuminated light bulb sign
Historic illustration of Ghiradelli building


Ghirardelli Chocolate Company celebrates its 100th anniversary.


Two prominent San Franciscans acquire Ghirardelli Square and commission an architect to construct a modern specialty shopping center while retaining the exceptional Victorian qualities of the complex.

Drawing of Ghirardelli shopping center
Ghirardelli lighted sign at night.


San Francisco declares Ghirardelli Square an official city landmark.


Ghirardelli's production facilities move to San Leandro, CA and the Manufactory opens at Ghirardelli.

Ghirardelli's production facilities at San Leandro, CA
Ghirardelli Square  National Historic Register plaque


Ghirardelli Square receives National Historic Register status.


The first annual Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival is held.

Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival
Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop


Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop opens in Downtown Disney in Orlando, FL.


Lindt & Sprungli acquires Ghirardelli Chocolate Company as a wholly owned subsidiary of its holding company.

Lindt & Sprungli logo
Ghirardelli Milk & Caramel SQUARES


Ghirardelli launches its now-famous filled SQUARES chocolates, including the popular Milk & Caramel SQUARES.

Ghirardelli Square entrance sign


Ghirardelli Chocolate Company celebrates its 150th anniversary.


Ghirardelli introduces SQUARES stand up bags.

Ghirardelli SQUARES stand up bags
Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark


Ghirardelli launches Peppermint Bark, which goes on to become a best-selling holiday treat.


Ghirardelli debuts Dark Squares, which become the first widely available chocolates to include cacao content on the packaging.

Ghirardelli Dark Squares
Ghirardelli Intense Dark bars


Ghirardelli launches Intense Dark bars, created with luxuriously deep, velvety chocolate fused with sophisticated ingredients.


Ghirardelli introduces its first ecommerce initiative.

Ghirardelli online ad
Ghirardelli's Prestige bars


Prestige bars, Ghirardelli's first filled-bar line, make their debut.


Ghirardelli Chocolate Outlet & Ice Cream Shop in Lathrop, CA.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Outlet & Ice Cream Shop in Lathrop, CA
Ghiradelli baked goods


Ghirardelli becomes the No. 2 baking brand in the U.S.


Ghirardelli Chocolate Company celebrates its 160th anniversary.

Ghiradelli 160th Anniversary logo
Ghirardelli Disney Studio Store in Hollywood, CA


Ghirardelli partners with Disney and opens the Disney Studio Store in Hollywood, CA.


Ghirardelli debuts minis chocolates and candy making wafers.

Ghirardelli minis chocolates and candy making wafers