In 1910 Leonidas Kestekides confectioner in the US, travels to Belgium for the first time to show his confectionery goods, and immediately meets with great success thanks to the quality of his products.
The young Greek Leonidas Kestekides, confectioner in the US since the early 1900s, attends the 1910 World Fair in Brussels and the 1913 World Fair in Ghent as a member of the Greek delegation from the United States.
He is awarded the bronze medal and the gold medal, respectively, for his chocolate confectionery and his patisserie.
Having won great professional recognition and having also fallen in love with a beautiful young girl from Brussels (whom he later marries) Leonidas decides to settle permanently in Belgium.
He opens tea-rooms in Brussels, Ghent and Blankenberge.
1935: In his ‘laboratoire’ on Marché Aux Grains, Basile Kestekides, who succeeded the founder, creates a whole range of new chocolates, including the well-known ‘Manon’ of Leonidas.
In 1935, the founder’s nephew Basile Kestekides takes up the torch and incorporates the logo of an effigy of the king of Sparta, Leonidas, in honour of his uncle.
The master-confectioner sells his freshly made chocolates from the open window of his shop in Boulevard Anspach, the goods displayed in the shop window where passers-by can see them. The revolutionary concept of what came to be known as the ‘guillotine-window’ shop is an immediate success. Since then, Leonidas chocolates have enjoyed a reputation that has been steadily growing.
The founder’s dream, perpetuated by his successors, was to make these Belgian chocolates available to everyone without lowering standards.
The Leonidas Manon perfectly illustrates this will to democratize: the innovatory idea was to replace the traditional fondant sugar coating with white chocolate and the walnut with a grilled hazelnut. Very soon the Leonidas Manon with white chocolate and a grilled hazelnut became the kingpin of the Leonidas range.
Alexandros Kestekidis came to Belgium in 1940 and he and Basile worked together developing different flavours using praliné and chocolate.
Alexandros Kestekidis continued to take an interest in the company and in the flavours of the pralines until the end of his chairmanship in 1998.
The family-run company refines and creates its recipes for a clientele that by now has expanded far beyond Belgian borders.
Leonidas’ expansion is seamless as the company remains vigilant and continues to guarantee freshness in the products it sells to its customers.
In 1983 and 1993, Leonidas opens two new factories to satisfy the demand from its loyal and ever-increasing clientele. In 2000, Leonidas buys the company that produces the «Deva» brand products in Slovakia.
At the dawn of the 21st century, Leonidas chocolates are on sale in 40 different countries in the world through a network of some 1,400 sales outlets. And the adventure continues …
Today, the name Leonidas has come to stand for the quintessential Belgian chocolate. To the Belgians certainly, but also to chocolate gourmets and gourmands all over the world, who are enjoying the Belgian Leonidas chocolates across the five continents.
Leonidas chocolates are on sale in 1,400 sales outlets, from Paris to Rome, from Sydney to Tokyo, from Brussels to New York…
Indeed, Leonidas chocolates are being sold everywhere; which ever country you travel to, whichever city you find yourself in, you will find a shop carrying the Leonidas emblem.
Leonidas chocolates have featured in articles in some of the world’s leading daily newspapers and lifestyle magazines.
Leonidas wins hands down!
In response to the question "What is your favourite chocolate?", most consumers said: Leonidas, the undisputed n°1 Belgian chocolate.
This was the outcome of the well-publicised "National B®ands competition 2004" organised by the LDV advertising agency, and its partners. The basis for the competition was very simple: a list of the leading brands in each sector, from cars to washing powder was drawn up. A panel of consumers (25,252 as it happens) were then asked to express their likes and dislikes, choosing their preferred brand in each category. In the "Chocolates" category, there was only one winner: Leonidas chocolates.51.7% of consumers consider Leonidas to be and remain the most popular chocolate in Belgium. The National B®ands Competition is organised every year, over the Internet, attracting an ever younger section of consumers, who clearly love Leonidas chocolates, just as much their parents do. For the first competition, held in 2003, Leonidas won the "Chocolates" category in the National B®ands Competition hands down