Swiss Miss Instant Cocoa Inventor- Charles Sanna

How many times on a cold evening have you wrapped your chilly hands around a steaming mug of hot chocolate to warm your bones? It’s one of my favorite winter treats, especially with a shot of peppermint schnaps. It’s easy to boil the water and add a package of Swiss Miss to the cup.  Nothing could be simpler. This is all thank to Charles A. Sanna who, in 1961, invented Swiss Miss Instant Cocoa. Sanna took his Final Taxi at the age of 101.

Sanna was born in 1917 from a family of Italian immigrants. He joined the Navy in 1941 and oversaw the construction of submarines at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii during World War II.  After the war he worked at the family business, Sanna Dairy Engineers, and become a Chief Engineer for the miss

It was during this time he spent evenings at home in the family kitchen developing the recipe for “Swiss Miss” hot cocoa with his five children as taste testers. After making a successful instant hot chocolate, Sanna and his company did not know how to market it. The original instant hot cocoa product first appeared as an onboard beverage for airline passengers. Only after it became popular on airlines did it land on grocery store aisles.

“Swiss Misses” were a part of marketing the product early on. Around 1963, costumers could buy “genuine Swiss Miss” dolls by sending in three dollars and a boxtop to the company.

The Aztecs believed that cocoa, and therefore chocolate, came from the gods and incorporated chocolate beverages into many of their religious ceremonies. Aztecs believed that chocolate can grant mortals wisdom from Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec god of learning.  Although many argue that the spread of instant hot chocolate was a step back for drinking chocolate, it did help make history decades later. A dog sled team travelling across Antarctica is reported to have consumed 2,070 packets of Swiss Miss during their expedition. Thank you, Charles Sanna.


Jeff Burson – Writer
Lesa Burson – Editor

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