Baci by Perugina
Baci chocolates arrived on the Italian market in 1922, 15 years after the founding of Perugina in Perugia, Italy. Enveloped in dark chocolate, the product contained a chopped hazelnut filling and whole hazelnut centre added when creator Luisa Spagnoli needed to repurpose hazelnuts left over from other factory recipes. The famous Bacio, or “kiss”, was born. The distinctive hazelnut flavour of the Baci, made the product a hit among young lovers shopping for gifts in the sweetshops of Perugia.
Perugina added paper scrolls containing love notes inside the chocolates’ silver wrappings in the 1930s. While accounts of the love notes’ origins vary - some say that they were that of founder Giovanni Buitoni’s, others that of Perugina art director Federico Seneca - the love notes were an instant hit. The printed scrolls , which expressed messages of affection, warmth, or friendship, made Baci the ideal gift that could communicate the giver’s sentiment as it delighted the recipient with its unique flavour and charm.
Written in the stars...
The packaging of Baci Perugina chocolates is as iconic as the love notes that come inside. Perugina visionary Federico Seneca created the distinctive blue-and-white packaging, which features lovers kissing against a starry backdrop, in the 1930s to help communicate the Baci message of romance and spontaneity.
Crowned as the “futurist of advertising”, Seneca based his design on the famous 1859 painting by Francesco Hayez, Il Bacio, or The Kiss.
The Baci boxes and silver wrappers captured the contemporary spirit of romance, and quickly became synonymous with Baci chocolates and the tradition of exchanging them with sweethearts and friends.
The kiss heard around the world…
In 1939, Perugina opened a store on Fifth Avenue in New York City: the first step in a global campaign that introduced Baci to countries around the world. The chocolates were immediately popular among global consumers. Not only did Baci have a hazelnut filling that set them apart from other chocolates on the market, but they communicated Italian values of romance, creative expression and charm that were irresistibly exotic.
Baci expanded the collection of the love notes, or scrolls that appear inside the wrapping of each chocolate. The messages were translated into different languages, and sayings now included quotes from classical authors, philosophers, and contemporary artists, maxims and proverbs from non-Western cultures, and sayings from ancient thinkers. The most contemporary Baci also reflect changing ideas about love among global chocolate lovers. In addition to messages about romantic love, current Baci include sayings of affection that are appropriate for children, family members and friends. Written in modern language and ironic tone, the Baci of today express a range of sentiment that captures the diverse character of modern love.
To this day, Baci chocolates remain synonymous with Italian romance and continental elegance in countries around the globe. In Manhattan, a shop selling only Perugina products has Baci as its cornerstone product, and is particularly well-loked by shoppers during Valentine’s Day, Christmas and Easter. When it comes to love, it seems everyone is an Italian.
A message of love…
Since its inception, Baci Perugina has captured the imaginative, romantic spirit of the chocolates themselves. As the Baci was introduced to European countries and the U.S., Frank Sinatra, Rudolph Valentino, and Clark Gable helped spread the word about Baci to North American. A seminal promotion in the 1970s associated Baci with one of the most romantic films of the era: “Love Story”. The chocolates appeared in the film itself, while Perugina designed a special “Love Story” box that combined elements of the film with classic Baci imagery.
In Italy, many of Baci’s slogans have become so popular, they are now part of common vocabulary. “Tubiamo!” (let’s “tube”), which refers to the youthful tube-shaped Baci Perugina debuted in the 1980s, is a popular way for teenagers to express excitement and fun.