Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Tehran’s 90-Year-Old Confectionery Selling Unique Handmade Chocolates

Mignon confectionery has been working for about 90 years in the Iranian capital Tehran at the intersection of two of the city’s oldest streets.

Located on Sa’adi Street for almost nine decades, its pastries are still popular. In 1935, a Ukrainian family, named Pogossians, came to Iran to escape the economic pressures and crises that had plagued Europe during the interwar period. The whole family helped to run a bakery. The world war was finally over and the shadows of famine and unrest disappeared, and living conditions got better. Therefore, the Ukrainian family converted the bakery into a confectionery and did a very professional and good job.

This confectionery has once been the gathering place for famous people in the capital and is still a hangout for many artists and celebrities. So far, it’s been family-run, with two overseas branches run by the grandchildren of the family. Currently the only survivor of this family is Ruben, who runs the Mignon confectionery with his wife.

Ruben’s wife has told Fars News Agency that “my father-in-law started here after the Russian Revolution when he immigrated to Iran. He had a confectionery in Ukraine and decided to continue his job in Iran.

“First off, he launched a bakery and then sweets and chocolates were added and the place turned into a chocolate shop in Tehran.”

Regarding the name of the shop she said, “One of the sons who learned French at St. Louis School selected Mignon. It is a French name meaning “cute”, commonly used to refer to a sweet kid. My mother-in-law, who was a chef and the manager behind the scenes, liked the name and chose it for the shop; a name that still stands on the window. After the death of my father-in-law, my husband’s elder brother, who was a chemistry professor, continued the job, and after that, my husband, Ruben, was in charge here.”

About the shop’s famous chocolates, she said all the chocolates are handmade and made from natural chocolate oil.

“We do not use synthetic and industrial oils in making chocolates. We haven’t raised the price of our products after the rise of expenses to maintain our special customers,” she continued.

“Our usual pastries are always available, but we have a handful of specialty pastries that are made only on special occasions, such as Christmas pastries or Pyrok cakes baked at one of our festivals. This cake is very popular and is also known as luck cake, because we put a coin wrapped in foil inside it. When the families slice the cake, anyone who wins the coin in the portion is considered the lucky person in the coming year.  Another one of our specialty cakes that takes a lot of time to bake is the best-selling Armenian-made cake called Pasca. It is the Easter cake and people stand in long queues to buy it.”

Mignon’s chocolates include almond and orange peel chocolate, pure orange peel chocolate, 70% dark chocolate, plain pure chocolate, truffle chocolate with peanut butter and pure chocolate with fried hazelnut. “Eris”, “Barbaris”, and “Kianushka” are some of these handmade chocolates. There are also Armenian chocolates that are ordered for weddings or baptisms.

“We’ve done our best to keep our business alive in this economic situation, so we still have our old customers. We even have customers from three different generations,” she added.

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