Hans Imhoff was born in 1922 as the son of a master locksmith in Cologne’s Fleischmengergasse. Even as a child, he was beguiled by the scent of chocolate which emanated from the nearby Stollwerck factory. He spent almost his entire life with and for chocolate, beginning in Bullay in the Mosel Region, where, after the war, he founded a successful chocolate factory. Later, he took over the long-established Stollwerck group in Cologne and made it again into one of the leading companies in the sector. In 1993 he fulfilled a personal dream and built “his” Chocolate Museum for 53 million Deutschmarks by the Rheinau harbour. The idea for a museum came about by chance when a significant proportion of today’s exhibits almost ended up on the rubbish heap during Stollwerck’s move to Cologne-Porz in 1975. Many large crates were supposed to be thrown away, their contents presumed to be “trash” and “junk”. Dr Hans Imhoff took a closer look at the supposed junk and discovered some genuine treasures. After the move to the new site in Porz, Imhoff commissioned the late art historian and museologist Professor Vaclav Hepner to examine the old stock of artefacts.
At first, the primary emphasis of the collection lay on exhibits documenting the history of the Stollwerck concern. Subsequently, the concept was extended considerably in scope and the museum began to collect – and continues to collect – artefacts concerning the cultural and industrial history of chocolate. Dr Hans Imhoff passed away on 21 December 2007.