Best-Selling Mozart Balls: Cashing In on a Music Sensation

Mozart Balls are chocolates named after one of the most famous opera and baroque music composers – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Of course, Mozart never tasted the Mozartkugel chocolate delicacy.

Commercial enterprises have been inspired by Mozart music and the classical music Mozart composed to create Mozart chocolate marzipan balls. The Mozartkugeln chocolates consist of a marzipan (almond paste) and nougat (cocoa and hazelnut paste) centers.

Echte Mozartkugeln (Real or Genuine Mozart Balls) are manufactured by a variety of chocolate and candy manufacturing companies. Mirabell chocolate is the largest producer and distributor of Mozartkugeln. But, other Salzburg chocolate confectioners, as well as producers of Mozart chocolate balls Vienna, lay claim to Mozart, the composer for their inspiration.

Read to Discover Mozart Balls


Listen to Mozart music online:

The 4th part of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Serenade No.13 for Strings in G major), K.525 by W.A.Mozart. recorded live on March 1, 2012 at the Lviv Philharmonia with the Lviv Virtuosos Chamber Orchestra. Myron Yusypovych conducts.

Warning: You might want to munch on some chocolate as you ferret out the different variants of Mozart Balls currently available on the market.


A History of Mozart Balls

Mozart Balls History
Mozart Balls History

A quick overview of the information readily available about Mozart Balls leaves the impression that Mozart Balls were originally “discovered” in Salzburg, Austria and that all Mozart Balls are produced in this famous city. This impression is more due to aggressive marketing by large corporations and consulting firms promoting cities as a tourist destination than to historical fact. The reality of the situation is a little different.

There is a generally permeated lore that Mozart Balls were originally developed by Paul Fürst (1856 – 1941) a chocolate and candy maker in the City of Salzburg. Certainly, part of that lore is true. Indeed, Paul Fürst, a citizen of Salzburg did experiment with various candy ingredients that were becoming available and popular in Europe at the end of the 19th century. But, whether he created the 1st Mozartkugel, a chocolate covered ball with a marzipan and nougat filling, is a matter for discussion.

There are at least 8 enterprises that claim they are producing Mozart Balls according to the original recipe developed in the late 19th century and 4 of these enterprises mass produce the chocolate delicacy by mechanically manufacturing them in factories. The most widely known Mozart Balls are produced by:

  • subsidiaries of the Kraft Foods Group (an American grocery manufacturing and processing corporation)
  • Lindt & Sprüngli, more commonly known as Lindt (a Swiss chocolatier and sweets company),
  • the Manner Company (an Austrian sweets company)
  • Reber (a German chocolate company).

Today, the English speaking world refers to the chocolate covered marzipan balls wrapped in foil with an image of the famous opera and baroque music composer as Mozart Balls. These chocolate delicacies are readily available in Salzburg, Vienna, as well as, airport duty free shops and chocolateriers around world

Interestingly, various Mozart Balls are manufactured in cities closely related to the biography of music composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791).


The Most Widely Known Mozart Balls are from Salzburg – Mirabell

Mozart Balls from Salzburg
Mozart Balls from Salzburg

The City of Salzburg claims to have the real Mozart Balls. After all, Salzburg was the city where music composer Mozart was born, where he grew up with his mother, father and sister. It was in Salzburg that Leopold Mozart (1719 – 1787), Wolfgang Amadeus’ father, began to develop his son’s musical talent.

Internationally, the most widely distributed Mozart Balls are those marketed under the Mirabell brand, which is owned by the Kraft Foods Group.

According to official information provided by Mirabell (a new window will open):

  • in 1890, Paul Fürst (1856 – 1941) created a marzipan (almond paste) and nougat (cocoa and hazelnut paste) ball and covered it in dark chocolate
  • in 1897, Bartholomäus Rajsigl (1869 – 1951), a colleague of Paul Fürst, founded Rajsigl, a chocolate, candy and cookie factory
  • in the 1920s, hand production of Mozart Balls began in Salzburg at the Rajsigl Sweet Factory
  • in 1948, the Mirabell branch of the company began independent production
  • in the 1960s, machine production of the Mozartkugel was introduced
  • in 1976, Suchard (a European coffee and sweets manufacturer) took over Mirabell, registered the trademark and introduced the now familiar red and gold trademark
  • in 1990, Suchard was acquired by the Kraft Foods Group
  • in 2014, the “Echte Salzburger Mozarkugel von Mirabell” brand was purchased by a group of Austrian investors.

The Echte Salzburger Mozartkugeln (Genuine Salzburg Mozart Balls) have a distinguishing gold foil wrapping with a likeness of Mozart on a green background. The Mirabell Salzburg Mozart Balls are marketed as “a highly appreciated gift, a typical Austrian souvenir and an internationally recognized synonym for Austria.” The company claims that there are 14 steps in the production process and that it takes 2 ½ hours to produce each Mozart Ball. Estimates place production at 90 million Mozart Balls per year.

“In comparison to all other industrially manufactured products that take the name Mozartkugel, the Echte Salzburger Mozartkugel from Mirabell is the only one that is completely round…” – and that is because the company actually took this marketing detail to court and won.


Mozart Balls with the Most Marzipan are from Vienna – Hofbauer

Mozart marzipan Balls
Mozart marzipan Balls

Vienna, the city of music, also lays claim to being the place where Mozart Balls originated. On October 13, 1762, 6 year old Mozart first performed for the Imperial Court at Schloss Schönbrunn in Vienna, the capital of the Hapsburg Empire.

The Hofbauer brand claims to draw its roots from Karl (Carl) Hofbauer, a Viennese sweets manufacturer:

  • in 1882, Carl Hofbauer opened a cake and chocolate shop in Vienna in 1882
  • in the late 19th C. the shop began selling Mozart Balls
  • in 1994, Hofbauer Österreich was acquired by Lindt & Sprüngli, a Swiss chocolate producer.

Today, the company claims that although their factory manufactures and mechanically produces Hofbauer Mozartkugeln, they are hand-decorated.

There are 2 types of Hofbauer Mozart Balls – the milk chocolate covered marzipan and nougat ball has a red and gold foil wrapping, while the dark chocolate Mozart Ball has a blue and silver foil wrapping. Both feature a portrait of famous composer W.A.Mozart on a dark background and are marketed as “…the Mozart chocolate with the biggest marzipan filling.”


More Mozart Balls in Vienna – Victor Schmidt

Mozart Balls from Vienna
Mozart Balls from Vienna

The Victor Schmidt Mozartkugeln (Victor Schmidt Mozart Balls) draw their roots from Victor Anton Schmidt (1826 – 1898), who officially obtained a license to produce and sell chocolates on January 1, 1858 in the City of Vienna.

According to information provided by Manner (a new window will open):

  • in 1858, Victor Schmidt opened a chocolate and sweets shop at Goldegasse,4 in Vienna
  • between 1880 and 1905, the company had between 800 and 1,000 employees
  • after the end of WWII, the company concentrated on chocolate and particularly Mozart Balls production
  • in 1984, Nestle purchased Victor Schmidt
  • on January 1, 2000, Joseph Manner & Comp, an Austrian wafer and chocolate producing corporation, took over the Victor Schmidt Mozart Balls production line.

Today, the Manner company claims that it was Victor Schmidt who first came up with a way to mechanically produce the nougat and marzipan chocolate covered ball.

The Victor Schmidt Mozart Balls are wrapped in red and gold foil, have a portrait of Mozart and feature the words Victor Schmidt in fancy cursive writing. “Victor Schmidt offers the Mozatkugel for the most favorable price” is how the Mozart Balls are marketed by the company.


Original German Mozart Balls – Mozartkugeln Reber

German Mozart Balls
German Mozart Balls

Mozart’s first trip to perform outside Salzburg was to Munich. In January – February 1762 at the age of 6, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart performed for Maximillian III Joseph (1727 – 1777), Duke of Bavaria.

During Mozart’s time, Salzburg was a separate ‘state’ geographically situated between its Bavarian (Munich) and Austrian (Vienna) neighbours. Travel between Salzburg and Munich could take 2 days (a distance that today can be covered in 90 minutes by train). In the 18th century, Munich and Vienna were music capitals. Salzburg would become a music center later, due to its famous composer – W.A.Mozart.

The Paul Reber GmbH & Co. company draws its roots from Germany. According to Reber Family lore:

  • in 1865, Peter Reber opened a sweets shop (a confectionery) in Munich, just over 100 years after young Mozart’s trip to that city
  • sometime later, the Rebers opened cafes and stores in Salzburg (currently there are 3)
  • in 1938, the Reber headquarters were moved from Munich to the town of Bad Reichenhall, where the company headquarters and production facilities are located today

Today, the Reber company continues to be a family owned business. According to official information provided by Reber (a new window will open), “roughly 200,000 guests visit the main café in Bad Reichenhall every year.”

Echte Reber Mozart-Kugeln (Genuine Reber Mozart-Balls) are a registered trademark – including space between the company name and that of the famous music composer, as well as, the use of the hyphen between the name of Mozart and the chocolate delicacy.

To conclude, there are four companies that mass produce Mozart Balls and all of them draw their roots from a different master confectioner.

So, who actually created the first Mozart Ball? We’ll never know. But what we do know is that:

  • in 1851, Victor Schmidt obtained a license to produce and sell chocolates in Vienna
  • in 1865, Peter Reber opened a successful sweets shop in Munich
  • 1882, Victor Hofbauer opened a cake and chocolate shop in Vienna
  • in 1884, Paul Fürst opened a confectioner shop in Salzburg.

Mozart’s name has extraordinary commercial appeal. Mozart Balls, whether they are produced by Austrian, Swiss, German or American companies have the same marzipan and nougat filling and are covered in chocolate.

On the other hand, matters are never that simple. We also know that a court battle was fought over the right to the Mozartkugeln name! But, that is a story for the future….

Text by Oksana A. Wynnyckyj-Yusypovych


More to Explore: