Charles Sanna, The Creator Of Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate, Has Died

The Creator Of Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate Has Passed Away At 101 Years Old

What’s not to love about hot chocolate? It’s creamy, it’s sweet, it’s warming and comforting, and it’s, well, chocolate. Enough said! While it’s great to have a homemade mug of hot cocoa or a decadent version from a restaurant or coffee shop like Starbucks, sometimes you just don’t have the time, money, or patience. In those cases, instant powdered hot cocoa mix is more than good enough, and we all have a favorite brand. Of course, everyone probably also loves the iconic Swiss Miss hot chocolate brand. It’s basically legendary, and it’s hard to find other brands that compare to its perfectly satisfying flavor, no matter which kind you’re drinking (milk chocolate is easily the best though).

So when you think about how awesome Swiss Miss is, then it’s safe to say that today is a pretty sad day.

The company has delivered some really upsetting news that could potentially change the way operations are run, or what we can expect to see in the future.

Sadly, Charles Sanna, the man who began Swiss Miss, has died at 101 years old.

The New York Times has reported that Sanna died on March 13th in Madison, Wisconsin, according to his daughter, Lucy.

The obituary for Sanna reveals that his life was incredibly interesting and influential. Sanna originally got into powdered hot chocolate during the Korean War, when he came up with a revolutionary way to produce millions of individual packets of powered coffee creamer for American troops.

His company, Sanna Dairy Engineers, made so many packets that they always had an excess supply, which led Sanna to an idea. According to the New York Times, he once recalled, “I believed that it would make an excellent ingredient for a hot cup of cocoa.” He was obviously right about that.

The start of Swiss Miss hot cocoa happened in his family kitchen in Menomonie, Wisconsin, where he used his own five children and students from the elementary school to taste-test his creations.

In the late 1950s, the Swiss Miss brand was born. Well, actually, it was called Brown Swiss back then.

In the 1950s, Sanna had come up with a way to extend the shelf-life of dehydrated, powdered, sweetened whole milk coffee creamers from several months to years. He did this by reducing the oxygen contents in the packets, and this made it possible fort the company to send shipments of it to Korea.

This process of making “instantly soluble nonfat dry milk” is what made it possible for Swiss Miss to be created.

It was Anthony Sanna, his brother, who renamed the product Swiss Miss and introduced it in 1961. It was the first powdered hot cocoa product that could be made with water instead of milk. It was even promoted with Swiss Miss dolls!

In 1967, Swiss Miss was sold to Beatrice Foods, which ConAgra bought in 1990. ConAgra estimates that they sell more than 50 million boxes of Swiss Miss hot cocoa mix every year.

Now, a half-century after Sanna first came up with this hot cocoa mix, the Swiss Miss brand sells more than a dozen instant drinks and puddings. The company says these can be turned into 44 different recipes, and can even be used in meals like chicken mole.

Swiss Miss sells some true classics, like their Caramel Deluxe hot chocolate. It’s amazing!

They also offer dark chocolate or milk chocolate hot cocoa. It’s hard to tell which one is better, to be honest.

During the holidays, they sell things like candy cane hot cocoa, which has peppermint marshmallows. It’s like drinking Christmas.

Sanna retired in 1982, but he continued to do some cool stuff: he patented an ornamental design for a golf putter head, and wrote a children’s book when he was 89 years old.

Fans of Swiss Miss sent their condolences to the Sanna family as the news spread on social media. Even if you didn’t know him, it’s hard not to be sad about it.

One user even created a drawing of Sanna. It’s kind of awesome:

The truth is, Sanna’s death isn’t going to affect Swiss Miss. Once he sold the brand to ConAgra, Sanna told the Wisconsin State Journal that he believed the quality had gone down. It seems like he hasn’t had anything to do with it for a while.

Still, it’s important to honor Sanna’s contribution to the world of hot cocoa. He’s proud of it, too, as he told the Journal:

“It’s nice to know that you’ve done something that will carry on.”

Now excuse us while we sob into our cups of Swiss Miss hot cocoa.