Kalev was established in 1806 when Lorenz Caviezel opened a confectioner’s in Tallinn Old Town’s Pikk-Street (where the oldest cafe in Estonia Maiasmokk is located), and today Kalev is the biggest and most famous confectionery company in Estonia. It is considered one of the most prestigious trademarks in Estonia, but this Estonian icon has had several owners and during the communist era the company was completely nationalised. After the Soviet Union’s collapse, Kalev was privatised again and till 2010 managed to stay in Estonian hands when its core business was sold to the Norwegian, Felix Abba.
Even though the company is not Estonian anymore, the brand is still loved by locals. Kalev employs over 400 Estonians and the company’s products are sold everywhere in Estonia from little kiosks and gas stations to hypermarkets. The most famous chocolate products are Kamatahvel, Kalevipoeg, Mesikäpp, Anneke and various chocolate boxes. When it comes to other sweets, Kalev Dražee, Kalev Marmelade, Kalev Caramel, Kalev Praline product lines are known almost to everyone who has bought Kalev candies. Here’s a free souvenir tip!
In 2009 there was a big media scandal when Evelin Ilves, the wife of the Estonian President, said in public that Kalev’s candies are ‘kräpp’… indeed, this means what it sounds like: she said they are crap. This caught media attention and some even took it as far as saying that the First Lady of Estonia has declared war on Kalev, and she was blamed for trying to ‘kill’ an Estonian enterprise. Eventually, Evelin Ilves sent a letter of apology to the Kalev Chocolate Factory, apologising to Kalev’s employees and other enterprises who were offended, and life in Estonia went back to normal. The media’s and people’s harsh reactions showed exactly how emotionally attached Estonians are to the Kalev brand. Once we were told: ‘(Kalev)..is not just about the candies. It’s about childhood memory.’
As mentioned, you’ll find Kalev products everywhere in Tallinn and Estonia. However, if you want to buy more exclusive hand-made chocolates, cute marzipan figures or special gift boxes, we recommend heading to the Kalev Shop in Rotermann City or Cafe Maiasmokk.
The locations of Café Maiasmokk and the Kalev Shop can be found on our Tallinn Map (below).