The History of Leonidas

Belgian chocolate around the world

From Paris to New York, all over the world, everyone knows that Belgian chocolate is the best! The cocoa beans are roasted with the utmost care and then ground very finely. Leonidas Belgian chocolate is made from 100% cocoa butter and has a high cocoa content. The quality of it is guaranteed by Callebaut, the holy grail of chocolate.

Although Leonidas is constantly reinventing itself, traditional recipes are still present in the range. The pralines are made from premium ingredients such as fresh butter, cream, fresh milk, Turkish hazelnuts, Morello cherries from Perigord, Italian almonds, Valencia oranges, etc. and no frozen products are used. Irreproachable freshness is the pillar of Leonidas' success.

Belgian's favourite praline

Do you recognize that feeling? You buy a gift from a loved one, someone you want to thank. You can't wait to offer it and see how it will react. You have meticulously chosen the gift because you do not want to disappoint the other. The time has finally come. Tensions are rising. Your heart rate is accelerating. You give the gift. And... a smile illuminates the recipient's face as a thank you. You both radiate happiness and fall into each other's arms. Is this a familiar situation? This is the value that Leonidas advocates: it is good to offer.

At Leonidas, you buy affordable artisan pralines to offer a moment of chocolate happiness to your loved ones. A birthday party, a meal with friends, a romantic evening or just to say thank you. Leonidas is here to celebrate these moments of happiness with you, with family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues. But it's not just the great moments of joy that are celebrated with chocolate. There are also times when you want to "simply" please the other to show them that they are important to you. From the beginning, Leonidas Kestekides and his nephew Basilio wanted the Leonidas pralines to be accessible to all. Pralines are a luxury product that everyone should be able to enjoy, a fundamental right in a way.

Anyone who has ever tasted a Leonidas praline can confirm this: Leonidas is synonymous with quality and real Belgian chocolate.

Day after day, we use premium fine ingredients to provide you with a taste experience that you'll want to share with your family, friends, colleagues and all your loved ones. Everyone loves our Belgian chocolate, even abroad.

Even His Majesty King Philip is convinced: Leonidas is now on the list of Patent suppliers of the Court, which means that we also supply our artisanal pralines to the Royal Family. Belgian chocolate of impeccable quality at an affordable price. Thanks to Leonidas, quality is accessible to all.

Want to discover the chocolate happiness that Leonidas provides? Visit this page with the presentation of the complete assortment.

The Leonidas story

For over 100 years Leonidas Kestekides and his Greek family have been at the origin of a real chocolate revolution in Belgium. Leonidas, initially a small shop at the sash window, is now a world-renowned brand experience. Over the years, Leonidas has prepared amazing ganaches, intense praline and creations with different divine ingredients. If the Leonidas range is growing, there is one thing that has not changed in 100 years: Leonidas chocolates remain accessible to all.

More than 100 years ago, Leonidas Kestekides developed the first praline as we know it today. Over time, four generations of the Kestekides family have made their mark on Leonidas chocolate, turning this brand into a successful family-owned company. What began as a single shop with a sash window where pralines were displayed on the window sill is now a global brand with more than 1,300 shops. Today, everyone knows the tasty creations of Leonidas.

The Leonidas story in a few key dates


At the age of 18, the ambitious Leonidas Kestekides, who sold wine in Italy, decides to try his luck in the United States where he learns to turn his passion into a business and becomes a pastry-confectioner.


Ten years later, in 1910, Leonidas Kestekides and the Greek American delegation participated in the Brussels World Fair. He presents his know-how of pastry-confectioner to the 13 million visitors and wins the bronze medal. His success does not go unnoticed and he does not leave indifferent the pretty Belgian Joanna Emelia Teerlinck. Leonidas married her in 1912 and they moved to Gent.


In 1913, Leonidas Kestekides participated again in the World Fair organized in Gent. This time he won the gold medal and a commemorative diploma. Given the success, Leonidas decided to open its first tea room in Gent. With Joanna, he serves pastries, sweets and ice cream. After the war, he opened a "tasting room and cold buffet" in Blankenberge because this coastal city is very trendy at this time, and the bourgeoisie likes to stay there to discover its fashionable shops and its casino.


The political climate is deteriorating in Greece and the family of Leonidas settles in Gent. His nephew Basilio joins him in the company and learns the trade of pastry-confectioner. The two complement each other perfectly: one is a born salesman, and the other a creative spirit. A father-son relationship is born between the two men, who create a range of delicious pralines.


The two shops of Gent and Blankenberge work perfectly, Leonidas sets out to conquer Brussels. He then entrusts the operation of the Gent shop to his family and opens a new tea room in Brussels with his nephew.


Basilio rents a room at number 58 on Boulevard Anspach. But it is so small and narrow that it has no door to the boulevard. Basilio, true to himself, then finds a solution. He exposes his treats on the window sill and sells his pralines directly to passers-by through the sash window. It was the beginning of the sale by the sash window, which will later become the hallmark of Leonidas.


It is Basilio who offers the mark and the logo to his uncle. The latter registers the mark Leonidas to the City of Brussels and he gives him the name of his uncle and chooses as logo the Greek warrior Leonidas I, king of Sparta, in tribute to this one.


February 20, 1948 Leonidas Kestekides dies. Basilio wants his creations to remain a luxury product accessible to all. Suddenly, he decides to enlarge his workshop to increase his production capacity. Basilio moved to 46 Boulevard Anspach in a space still occupied today by Leonidas. Leonidas never wanted to make its pralines a rare product by increasing their price, but rather increased its production to maintain low prices.


On April 2, 1970, Basilio died. It is his brothers and sisters who take over the reins of the company. Pralines are sold in Belgium, the Netherlands, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, France, Germany, Greece and the United Kingdom. To taste Leonidas pralines, it is not possible to do without it. Production capacity is increased and Confiserie Leonidas SA buys the former Crown-Baele factory in Anderlecht, Boulevard Graindor 41-43, which is still today the headquarters of the company.


The Manon, as we know it today, is unique. Originally, the Manon was stuffed with a preparation of nougatine, topped with a walnut and coated with a layer of sugar. Yanni, a member of the Leonidas family, changed the recipe. He decides to replace the sugar with white chocolate. It's a revolution! The nut is then replaced by a hazelnut. Finally, he replaces nougatine with the famous butter cream. The new recipe gives birth to Manon which we still love today.


All Leonidas boutiques are redesigned and the sash window disappears. All stores around the world are adopting a new style and opting inside for a color palette that reflects the authenticity and values ​​of the brand. The style, warm and harmonious, emphasizes the quality, the know-how, the experience and the authenticity. Whether you buy your pralines at a Leonidas boutique in Brussels, New York or Paris, you will always feel welcomed in the same shop, with a modern and friendly atmosphere.


His Majesty King Philip of Belgium unveils on November 15, 2013 his list of Patented Suppliers of the Court, on which Leonidas occupies a place thanks to the excellence of its quality and its affordable price. This recognition rewards the perseverance and hard work of all those who have contributed to the success of the Leonidas brand.

Want to discover the chocolatey happiness that Leonidas provides? Visit the full assortment in one of our shops