The term 'bonbonniere' (also 'bonbonniere') comes from the French (bonbonnière) and describes a bowl or container made of glass, porcelain or another material in which sweets, chocolates, or fondants (sweets made of a sugar mass) were kept. The term 'bonbonniere' was also used for other things. So-called 'bonbonnières' were sometimes given to wedding guests as traditional gifts from the bride and groom. These were often elaborately decorated boxes with different fillings (such as small mementos of the celebration, gifts, or sweets).

More often, however, the term 'bonbonniere' was and is used for elaborately designed praline and chocolate packaging. This form of packaging for sweets of all kinds was already extremely popular in the 19th century.

Two examples of bonbonnieres decorated with coloured paper or chromo pictures. The round basket on the right is dated in handwriting (1868).

For many manufacturers in the luxury cardboard industry, imaginatively created packaging was a lucrative business. These included the manufacturers of cotillon and carnival articles, who also produced many Attrappen.

Examples of simply designed Christmas bonbonnieres

Similar boxes can be found, among others, in the offerings of the Dresden company Neumann & Co. Typical customers at that time came from the chocolate industry, which wanted not only simple bonbonnieres but also elaborately crafted containers for their products.

Three examples of bonbonnières made to customer order

Another example of this is the 'Memminger Mau' bonbonnieres, which are available in various sizes.

This special packaging was sometimes so elaborately designed, one could even call them small works of art. More often than not, after the sweet contents had been eaten or the gift had been taken out, they were not disposed of but simply kept. The bonbonnieres filled with chocolate or other sweets became national and international bestsellers. 

Two artistically designed bonbonnieres

At that time, bonbonnieres from the German fine cardboard industry were also produced according to the wishes of international customers. This explains why there are candy boxes and dummies in the shape of baseballs and footballs. These are sports that were hardly known to the German population at the beginning of the 20th century.

Particularly popular, were bonbonnieres, which represented everyday objects in miniature form and could be filled with sweets or small gifts. Commissioned by the famous K.u.K. Hofzuckerbäckerei Demel in Vienna, unusual bonbonnieres were made from cardboard (Dresdens), among other materials. Two Dresden ornaments which were commissioned, that can be proven with certainty, are a wall clock (see the example in the picture gallery) and the cat's head. The head with the 'Demel' sticker can be found in the Salzburg Christmas Museum. In addition to the Dresden cardboard objects, Demel also had Father Christmases, Belsnickels and Knecht Ruprechte made from papier-mâché in Thuringia especially for the Christmas trade.

Nowadays, miniature versions of objects or animals are often attributed to Dresden cardboard. Quite a few such exhibits found their way onto or under the Christmas tree. All the following examples of bonbonnieres can be opened.

Bonbonnieres still exist today, but they cannot be compared with the richness of form and the sometimes complicated, imaginative designs of their predecessors from the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.