Our Timeline

Domenico Ghirardelli

1817

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.

1847

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

Domenico Ghirardelli signature
Illustration of historic Ghirardelli location

1849

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.

1852

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

1865

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.

1884

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

1892

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

1893

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

1906

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.

1923

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

1952

Ghirardelli Chocolate Company celebrates its 100th anniversary.

1962

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.

1965

San Francisco declares Ghirardelli Square an official city landmark.

1967

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

1982

Ghirardelli Square receives National Historic Register status.

1996

The first annual Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival is held.

Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival
Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop

1997

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

1998

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

Lindt & Sprungli logo
Ghirardelli Milk & Caramel SQUARES

1999

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

Ghirardelli Square entrance sign

2002

Ghirardelli Chocolate Company celebrates its 150th anniversary.

2003

Ghirardelli introduces SQUARES stand up bags.

Ghirardelli SQUARES stand up bags
Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark

2004

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

2005

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

2006

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

2006

Ghirardelli introduces its first ecommerce initiative.

Ghirardelli online ad
Ghirardelli's Prestige bars

2007

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

2008

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

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

2011

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

2012

Ghirardelli Chocolate Company celebrates its 160th anniversary.

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

2013

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

2014

Ghirardelli debuts minis chocolates and candy making wafers.

Ghirardelli minis chocolates and candy making wafers