A blue box of silver-foil chocolates wrapped with a note is a failsafe on February 14. But there’s actually a real-life love story behind the Baci.
When Perugia-born clothing designer Luisa Spagnoli first invented the hazelnut-centred chocolate in 1922, she called it a cazzotto because it resembled a fist. The name didn’t ring right to Giovanni Buitoni, managing director of the Perugina chocolate factory and Spagnoli’s younger lover—Buitoni was 14 years her junior. The idea of asking a shop assistant for a “punch” just didn’t resonate with the entrepreneur, who was also on the board of directors of the famous pasta brand. Buitoni commissioned futurist artist Federico Seneca to design the packaging and concept, hence the silver wrapping and the tiny slip of paper printed with a quotation about love we still unfurl today. The box depicting two lovers locked in an anonymous and unaffected embrace was inspired by Venetian Francesco Hayez’s The Kiss (1859), on display in Milan’s Pinacoteca di Brera. All these factors proved a winning recipe; a 1927 advertisement claimed, “In only five years, Perugina has sold 100 million Baci”.