A New Era for the Red October Chocolate Factory
By Katrina Marie
It hits you even before entering the Babayevsky factory near Krasnoselskaya metro: the deep, haunting, intoxicating aroma of chocolate - an instant endorphin rush. Babayevsky, a powerhouse of Russian chocolate in its own right, now houses the remains of the Red October (Krasniy Oktyabr) chocolate company, which moved from its famous Moskva River location in 2008.
The Red October chocolate factory (originally the mid-19th century German-founded Einem factory until nationalized after 1917) is perhaps most identifiable for its ‘Alyonka’ chocolate bar (look for the image of a headscarf-wearing chubby cheeked toddler) and ‘Mishka’ adored with three bear cubs. The company’s chocolates are renowned throughout Russia.
I admit to being one of the many disappointed by the move from its architectural landmark on the Moskva River. However, the ‘new’ location at Babayevsky most definitely has its own charm. Founded in 1804, Babayevsky is one of the oldest confectionary companies in Russa. Its factory building near Krasnoselskaya is well-maintained and still evokes the era of industrialization.
Melted chocolate is pumped through metal pipes descending from the ceilings, which deliver the ebony delight into moulds cooling on conveyor belts. From there, an assembly line of hair-netted women in white lab coats are positioned at each stage of the production process, from the cutting of the chocolate, to packaging and labelling, and finally to boxing for shipment throughout Russia and the world.
A tour of the factor is a treat, literally. Delicious and everchanging samples of the day’s fresh production, still slightly warm, are shared—everything from dark chocolate with almonds, to milk chocolate truffles, to richly sweet caramels coated, of course, in chocolate.
Much of the tour is focused on Babayevsky’s production line, but the Red October portion of the factory is also visited.
The large and modern factory museum also displays a diverse collection of photographs, confectionary boxes, and memorabilia, beginning with the Tsar-bedecked glamour of the 1800s, the revolutionary fervour post-1917, through World War II with colours of the ‘Coalition’ Soviet, American and British forces. During World War II, the factories produced supplies for the Red Army, including signal flares and military rations. A 3-D film of chocolate’s history caps the tour, after which visitors are given boxes of elegant chocolates.
At the end of the tour, visitors are guided to the factory store, which carries a more diverse supply of products for all tastes. For this author, the dark chocolate with almonds did the trick, particularly when melted over the stove, with a bit of heavy cream and peanut butter thrown in for good measure. It makes a gooey unforgettable hot fudge sauce for an ice cream sundae , or simply to enjoy straight from the bowl.
Additional information about the museum and excursions may be found at www.uniconf.ru/ru/museum/muzeyko