History of the Red October Factory – the kingdom of chocolate in Moscow
“Red October” is the oldest chocolate factory in Moscow, located on Bersenevskaya Embankment. Now the company’s production workshops have been moved out of the city, the buildings, built at the end of the century before last, have turned into an art cluster, and the new owner rents out the premises. “Krasny Oktyabr is not only a masterpiece of industrial architecture, protected by the state, but also a bright page of Russian confectionary art, and Alenka chocolate is a symbol of childhood for most Russians.
How Ferdinand turned into Fyodor.
The history of the Russian Empire and Germany are closely intertwined: the ruling dynasties had kinship ties, and many industrial facilities were born thanks to the work of German factory workers. “Red October” is associated with the name of Theodore Ferdinand von Eineme, an ordinary confectioner and a subject of the Kingdom of Württemberg. In 1850 he moved to Moscow with a desire to open his own business, Russia was then perceived by Europeans as a country with potential, here it was possible to make a fortune in a short time and achieve fame.
A year earlier, the enterprising German had been given the privilege of supplying confectionery to the imperial family, and the Empress was enamored of the sweets, who persuaded Ferdinand to move. 1849 is considered the year of the factory’s foundation, although the first store did not open on the Arbat until 1851. It was then that Eineme decided to change his name and turned into Fedor, so it was easier for him to do business.
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Initially the entrepreneur was engaged in selling sugar, popular among the people of Moscow, but the breakthrough came, as paradoxical as it may sound, only during the Crimean War. Einem received a contract to supply the army with jam and in a short period of time amassed the start-up capital, acquiring the necessary connections among the officials. The practical German invested all his profits in the development of the company and opened an entire factory in Myasnitskaya Street. In 1869 Julius Goyce joined him, the shareholders purchased new equipment, including a steam engine, and expanded the production facilities at Sofiyskaya Embankment.
The company won several prestigious confectioner’s awards, and the company began producing not only sugar, but also sweet cakes and pastilles, candies and other sweets, so beloved by the townspeople. Attention was paid to the design of the goods, Einemet involved a composer who wrote the notes – as a result, the buyer received a supplement to the delicious gift. Theater booklets were profiled with the factory’s advertising, branded napkins and tongs were placed in the boxes for the exclusive sweets, justifying the high prices.
Eineme himself tried on the role of a patron of the arts – he donated 5 kopecks from every pound sold to the account of charitable organizations. The newly founded Fyodor was held up as an example of a successful Russified European manufacturer and was adored by the workers and the influential German diaspora. In 1876 Fyodor Karlovich died in Berlin, but the business continued to live on – a new head of the company was appointed Goyce, who finally built a candy empire in the heart of Russia, there were branches in Ryazan and Kolomna.
Ensemble of the Einem factory
In 1889, the new manager of the future Krasny Oktyabr confectionery factory purchased several plots of land near the Bersenevskaya Embankment opposite the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, they belonged to the merchant Ushakov. The historical name of the place is Balchug, which means “mud” in Tatar. The point is that due to constant floods and overflows of the river this territory was flooded, sometimes water reached the walls of the Kremlin. Construction of the Vodootvodny channel spared Moscow from floods, the land in the center of the city had a huge value, so Ushakov divided it into 8 shares and partially transferred to the management of the company.
Expansion of the enterprise Einem stretched for two decades, the complex included 23 buildings, connected by passages and courtyards, the area of “Red October” reached 5 hectares. The building process was initially supervised by architect Flodin, but then the reins were passed to Alexander Kalmykov, a graduate of the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. In 1906 the Caramel Factory was completed, in 5 years a three-storey administrative building grew on the bank, the formation of the ensemble was completed by the accession of the revenue building of the Cloth Factory, its territory was turned into garages.
Kalmykov chose the Eclecticism style, popular in Europe, as the basis for the Red October Confectionery Factory. Its typical features: the rich décor of the facades, the rational layout of the interior space, the combination of different forms of art of the past and the outwardly attractive appearance, despite the function of the manufactory. The free space was used to the maximum, while the basements were used for storing cocoa, the upper floors were used for processing.
Authentic Chocolate Shop even after 100 years is admirable, its ceilings are made of old bricks, connected with wires, in the architecture of this style is called the vault of Monnier. Kalmykov used stucco for the interiors, the front rooms were decorated with German Mettlach tiles, beautiful tiles were resistant to deformation and moisture, suitable as a working surface for the factory. Expensive marble tables added spice; workers used them for rolling out caramel.
Three of the eleven buildings of the Einem confectionery factory were recognized as monuments of architecture of historical value. The complex looked aesthetically pleasing, the brick masonry became the hallmark of the site. The romantic image of the “sweet island” is maintained today, the smell of vanilla literally permeated the surroundings.
The management rejected the construction of a classic manufactory, chose red bricks as the main material – the complex was strikingly different from the gray factories nearby. German entrepreneurs followed the path of modernization, reduced production costs, workshops were connected by covered walkways, service rooms had high ceilings, not a single strike took place at the Red October factory during the entire period of its operation. English specialists were appointed to managerial positions and the first biscuit production was launched here in Russia.
The red brick walls of Krasny Oktyabr factory absorbed the smell of chocolate candy over time, and in some of the workshops you can still smell the spicy, tart aroma of cocoa
Goyce was often referred to as a progressive leader, he was careful to organize the labor of the factory workers, built a special dormitory for them on the other side of the river. A school was organized for children, after 25 years of service confectioners were sent to a well-deserved pension, craftsmen tried to get here, and young girls dreamed of becoming models for advertising brochures. Later, the dormitory of the enterprise was recognized as a cultural heritage object, it is protected by the state, although formally it does not belong to the complex.
Period of nationalization and renaming
During the First World War the factory was supplying products to the front, from Moscow wagons loaded with cookies and candies were sent to the location of the army. The charity did not save the factory from nationalization, and in 1922 the factory was renamed Krasny Octyabr (Red October). The Geiss family left Russia, only his son Vladimir remained in charge of the company, but after the renaming, he too decided to flee the country for fear of being persecuted for his ethnic origins.
The Russians were not familiar with the Krasny Oktyabr brand, so at first the products of the factory were marked with the pre-revolutionary name “former Einem” in brackets.
However, it did not affect production and in a short period of time the company became a monopolist and a flagship of the industry on the Soviet market. The candies “Yuzhnaya Noch”, iris “Kis-Kis” and chocolate “Alenka” entered the everyday life of Soviet citizens, during the Great Patriotic War the company produced concentrates for the soldiers. Krasny Oktyabr” played a significant role in the victory, and the factory was given the Honorary Banner of the State Defence Committee for safekeeping.
In the mid-1960s, the buildings of the Moscow factory were reconstructed, part of the factory buildings were added, the equipment was replaced taking into account technological changes. At the same time the historical image is partially damaged, the reconstructors had to work hard to return to the pre-revolutionary architecture. Since May 1994 operates museum of confectionery, its design worked on the artist Antonov. Tourists can see the reconstructed director’s office, striking luxury and simplicity at the same time, numerous advertising booklets and letters, recreated the life of the workers.
The construction of the Patriarch Bridge contributed to the re-profiling of the factory, the production facilities of United Confectioners Holding were moved outside the city limits next to Babaevsky, and a cultural center ARTStrelka was opened on the site. The space was filled with museums and exhibition centers, a variety of restaurants and stores, and fairs were held in the courtyard. “Red October” became a place of attraction for lovers of industrial architecture, there are guided tours, professional guides tell about the pre-revolutionary period of the factory. The lush decoration remains intact, tourists are crazy about the oak staircase in the caramel case, they hold photo sessions on it, and you can meet newlyweds kissing.
The dainty land in the center of Moscow attracts construction companies to the territory of the former factory, and there was a plan to create a complex of elite development, the so-called Golden Island project. Due to public pressure its realization remains on paper, though several hotels have opened their doors for the visitors.
Address and opening hours
“Red October” is located in the center of the city between the Moskva River and the Vodootvodny Canal on the Bolotny Island arrow. Despite its proximity to the Kremlin and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, the factory retains an authentic look and a certain abandonment due to the absence of traffic arteries. Huge areas of tens of thousands of square meters are rented, with preference given to the creative segment. The art space is open 24/7, museum doors open during the day, lectures are given in the open air, and at night the club life is boiling, thematic festivals and concerts attract Moscow’s youth. By the way, under the terms of the contract, each tenant of the Red October Factory is obliged to preserve the historical appearance and conduct seasonal improvement works. As for the famous Chocolate Museum, it is open every day from 09:30 to 17:30, on Sunday there are two tours by appointment, for more information check the official website.
Address: Moscow, Bersenevskaya embankment, 6.
The nearest subway stations are Kropotkinskaya and Tretyakovskaya, the last stop is the Udarnik Cinema near the Bolotnaya Embankment. There are five large guarded parking lots on the territory of the factory and excursion buses stop there.
Review: A tour of the factory buildings of Krasny Oktyabr by “Moscow through the eyes of an engineer” (Russia, Moscow) – The sad end of the giant of the candy industry in Russia and the USSR.
-Excursion sites available without a guide -Factory closed, offices in the shops -Place and stairs in a depressing condition -Pitiful attempts to do business on the territory of an industrial giant -Gone from the tour 70 years of history
The other day we visited the former Red October factory with a guided tour from the company “Moscow through the eyes of an engineer. From the name it is clear that the purpose of the guides is to bring to the listeners previously unknown facts, mainly of technical nature, which relate to architectural objects in Moscow and other cities.
Excursion was ordered on the site “Engineer”, it was necessary to pay 990 rubles at once, the meeting was scheduled before entering the factory. It is located near the metro “Kropotkinskaya”, a two minute walk from the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
The factory closed, or rather, disbanded into branches 13 years ago, could not withstand the competition, and the place is delicious, near the Kremlin. It seemed that it would be quickly taken over by enterprising businessmen and build penthouse residences and hotels, but for some reason this did not happen. Probably huge investments are needed to put Bolotny Island in order.
The old factory buildings were turned over for business development, which is pathetic compared to the grand, majestic factory. It has been created for centuries, but it ended up in such a shameful way. The cafeterias, co-working spaces, stores, and offices are like cardboard stickers. Each is housed in temporary buildings, but not invested in the restoration of buildings, so you get a pathetic sight at a closer look.
Exactly at 12 noon, the group gathered, led by its guide Andrei: intelligent young man, who immediately directed everyone to the coffee shop. There he began the tour, told about the origin of the island, which was formed in Moscow in the early twentieth century, when it was surrounded by artificial canals. The island was called Balchug or Bolotny.
We were in the cafe for about 15 minutes, so naturally the place got a bonus from our visit. Many people took their coffee because they were cold. I noticed an interesting dialogue: one of the visitors a little haughtily asked the barista: “Probably no use asking you for milk other than cow’s milk? She got the answer, “What do you want: oat milk, coconut milk, rice milk, soy milk, almond milk?” What a competition! But back to the tour.
Minutes after 10 minutes into the tour, it became clear that only the skill of the guide will be able to pull it. The thing is that in the places we visited, you can go in without a tour, because they are office buildings, and the entrance is free to all.
Andrei was up to the challenge: he told us interesting things: about complicated things simply. He told how the factory was built, how chocolate was made, he told us a little bit about manual labor, about the modernization of production, about the flood of the beginning of the last century. Instead of visiting the workshops, he showed us many laminated color photographs.
We got a lot of information about the founders of the factory, German entrepreneurs Einem and Geis. Andrew gushingly told us how they managed to create such a huge undertaking from the ground up and develop production. I wonder, but what happened to the huge Soviet period, which is famous for its other achievements? Not a word about it, which is strange. I thought that Andrey would touch it at least in passing, but the Soviet period of 70 years was crossed out completely.
Having tramped along the street for a while, we went to the offices, which were located in the workshops. Naturally, almost all the offices were closed on weekdays, no one would let the excursionists in, people were working. For example in “Krasny Oktyabr” there is a design bureau “Strelka” where plans for the redevelopment of Moscow are developed.
But nevertheless one of the offices let us in: the company organizes holidays, which Andrei advertised to us in the beginning. Their office has a view of the Moskva River, the huge Peter and Christ Church. It’s a good location. Here Andrei told us how the factory buildings were built, how it was heated by steam, how the gardener of Versailles invented reinforced concrete in Germany and they started using it, including at “Krasny Oktyabr”.
We went down the famous triangular stairs. What a state of neglect it is in, it certainly requires restoration. And again those huddled offices. Such an entrance, but at the same time the sign is not in Russian, it’s a little funny and sad at the same time!
On the stairs, Andrew kept on telling me: he showed me charts, praised and pitied Einem and his partners, when they were nearly driven out of Russia during the war with the Germans. I was waiting for the sequel, but after 1917 Andrew’s story was over, although there was plenty of time to tell it. Why not tell him that in 1925 the factory’s candy output doubled, that production did not stop during the War, and that many famous candies were developed in the Soviet period: “South Night”, “Fudge”, “Kitty Kitty”, etc., etc. Yes, and the factory received its name “Krasny Oktyabr” during the Soviet period.
I am not an ardent follower of the Soviet period of history, but I do not like such one-sidedness at all, but that remains on the conscience of the organizers.
The tour was drawing to a close, and we walked out into the main hall of the factory, which also seemed abandoned. We were surprised by the tiles on the floor, which stood out for their color and fresh look. It was actually a German-made Mettlasse tile, originally from Germany, which had been laid there around 150 years ago and had retained its characteristics. That’s what German quality means. Now it costs 100 Euros for a tiny tile and you can order it in the store in GUM.
The tour ended with a visit to the roof of the “Red October”. A kind of cherry on the cake, you cannot go there without a tour, Andrey solemnly went to get the keys. He brought the keys and gave us a short lecture about safety measures: not to walk on the edge of the roof, etc. It got a bit scary but it turned out that the roof of “Red October” is a flat area with a beautiful view over Moscow. We were not lucky with the weather, we had a storm of snow in the sky and then the sun came out again. We were able to take a picture and try some modern Red October candies, which we were treated to by Andrew from a huge bag, which are sold for products supermarkets.
In summary, I note that the tour is not worth its 990 rubles, because the cost of the organizers is almost zero, on the contrary, they bring visitors to the institutions of “Red October” and advertise them, earning extra bonuses. If you want you can get everywhere on your own, and the information is available on the Internet. There may be only difficulty with the roof. That said, I don’t detract from Andrei’s ability at all, he can hold his own, he speaks correctly, he knows a lot, and he doesn’t get lost.
I would like to get into the premises of Krasny Oktyabr, where production used to be, to understand how it was organized. Maybe visit the factory museum, we were not offered any of that. Practically: an excursion is a story of a good guide about history, architecture and equipment of the factory without any visual demonstration. Therefore it turned out very half-heartedly!