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Karl Fazer

businessman , environmentalist

Karl Fazer was a great outdoor enthusiast, hunter and fisherman, and he had his own pheasant preserve on the outskirts of Helsinki in the early years of the 20th century. Over the course of the years he became an environmentalist and an expert on birds.

Background

Karl Fazer was born in Helsniki in 1866. He was the second-youngest of eight children of the Swiss furrier Eduard Peter Fazer.

Education

Fazer Senior wanted all his sons to have socially respected professions. He did not regard that of pastry cook and confectioner as one of these and thus did not support his son’s choice of professions. But it was a confectioner that Karl wanted to be, and since at that time Russia was Europe’s number one country in the making of such products, it was necessary to go to St Petersburg to seek an apprenticeship, Karl became an apprentice of a French-born confiseur named Berrin, from whose firm he received his certificate when he finished his apprenticeship in 1886. After this, he served at other St Petersburg establishments and also travelled around in other places in Europe, including Berlin and Paris. He returned to Helsinki in 1891 as a fully trained master in the art of confectionery, ready to begin his own business activities.

Career

Karl Fazer studied baking in Berlin, Paris, and Saint Petersburg before becoming a pioneer of Finnish confectionery. He began the industrial production of confectionery in 1897. Before this year it had hardly been worth producing sweets in Finland, because those imported from Russia had been vastly cheaper. In 1897, however, tariffs were standardized, which meant that import duty also had to be paid on Russian confectionery. Karl Fazer realised that Finnish production would become worthwhile if the volume were sufficiently large.

The Fazer café was in the neighborhood building, and Karl himself lived on the top floor of the building. There were other cafes in close proximity, including the famous Café Ekberg, but there seemed to be enough customers for all of them. After all, the University was only a block away.

Achievements

  • After Finland gained independence, there was speculation in the press as to who was the best-known Finn abroad. It was unanimously agreed that the most famous were Svinhufvud and Mannerheim , but Karl Fazer came close behind them. In some southern European countries, Fazer may even have been better known than the political leaders just mentioned.

Connections

Karl Fazer was married to Berta, the daughter of the Tammisaari master baker John Blomqvist. Berta Fazer had had commercial training, and she played an energetic role in Fazer’s business activities. In the initial decades, she did the firm’s bookkeeping, arranged the display windows and took care of tasks associated with advertising.

father:
Eduard Peter Fazer - Swiss - furrier

brother:
Max Fazer - Finnish

brother:
Edvard Fazer - Finnish

brother:
Georg Fazer