Toblerone Alters Shape of 2 Chocolate Bars, and Fans Are Outraged


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Toblerone has shrunk and reconfigured two of its iconic milk-chocolate bars. Its former 170-gram bar, top, which is sold mainly at a British discount retailer, is now 150 grams.

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Darren Staples/Reuters

LONDON — The peaks are slimmer and the valleys are wider, but the price hasn’t changed.

The maker of Toblerone, the Swiss chocolate bar, has reconfigured the unique appearance of two of its milk-chocolate versions, with narrower triangles and a larger gap between peaks.

The price for the new bars is the same as the old ones, but the changes to the smaller one — which is sold mainly in Britain at the discount retailer Poundland — were so pronounced that Toblerone’s Facebook page was filled with outrage from aggrieved consumers, even though only a relatively small number were likely to be affected.

“Toblerone is all about the triangle,” Stephen Mason said on Facebook. “Why couldn’t you just lose a triangle at the end or make the triangles smaller?”

The 170-gram and 400-gram milk chocolate bars (about six ounces and 14 ounces) have been cut down to 150 grams and 360 grams to reduce costs, because of rising prices for ingredients, said Mondelez International, which makes the bars. The altered shape is visible only once the box is opened.

The effect of the alterations on the signature shape of the 400-gram bar, which is sold across Europe, was less noticeable, a company spokeswoman said.

The change, announced on the Toblerone Facebook page last month, is in keeping with a common strategy for companies trying to avoid price increases by reducing the contents of a product without changing the packaging.

Most consumers are unaware of the changes because the product usually looks and is priced the same — there is simply less of it — but the newer, gappier Toblerone bar felt treasonous to the brand’s loyal consumers.

“The key part of a Toblerone is the Alpine shape of peaks,” Fiona Prince said on Facebook.

The change to the 400-gram bar was made early this year, and the 150-gram version appeared in British discount stores last month.

Gemma Pryor, the head of external affairs for Britain at Mondelez International, said the company had to choose between changing the shape of the bar and raising prices — a significant issue in Britain, where the economy is facing uncertainty and the value of the pound has weakened after voters backed leaving the European Union in a June referendum.

“We need to make sure it remains on shelves and it’s still affordable,” she said, adding that, “it would be disingenuous to make the link between this and Brexit.”

The triangular milk chocolate bar, sold in a yellow package with red letters, has been around since 1908. The founder, Theodor Tobler, combined his family name with “torrone,” the Italian word for nougat, and patented his recipe of chocolate mixed with milk and honey.

The Matterhorn in the Alps is said to be the inspiration behind the pointed bar, and is featured on some of the packaging, but Mr. Tobler’s sons have said their father was inspired by a line of dancers at the Folies Bergères cabaret in Paris.

Mondelez International noted that while the overall look of the bar is different, the recipe remains the same and the chocolate is still made in Switzerland.

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