How the serfs Abrikosovs became the pastry kings of pre-revolutionary Russia
Candies with inserts and small toys hidden in sweets, chocolate hares and Santa Clauses in foil – all these childhood joys were invented in the 19th century by a talented person and a uniquely successful businessman, the “gummy king” of Russia Alexei Ivanovich Abrikosov.
His children, who inherited their father’s business, were less fortunate. By 1841, they went bankrupt, property went under the hammer for debts, and one of the sons of a failed businessman, Alexei, was forced to interrupt his education. The young man, promising and dreamed of a university, left the Practical Academy of Commercial Sciences and went to work in the office of a sugar supplier he knew. However, the future famous merchant did not despair. Carrying out the small work of a messenger and gatekeeper, he gradually rose to the rank of accountant and at the same time learned all the intricacies of doing business. Five years later, he decided to start his own business, and the owner even helped him with a loan for the first pastry shop.
The young man, moreover, married surprisingly well. His chosen one, Agrippina Alekseevna Musatova, was the daughter of a tobacco manufacturer. She not only brought her husband five thousand rubles of a dowry, but also became a real support in life. This amazing woman gave birth to 22 children, of which 17 grew up, all graduated, and many became real stars. It would seem that this is quite enough for one person, but Agrippina Alekseevna remained in history as a patron, organizer and guardian of the maternity hospital in Moscow, which still bears her name (Maternity hospital No. 6 named after A. A. Abrikosova).
Confectionery company A. I. Abrikosov & Sons became successful
Meanwhile, the young businessman’s business was growing. From a small pastry shop, he gradually turned into a real empire. Fifty years later, by the end of the 19th century, the “company A. I. Abrikosov & Sons” was one of the three largest Russian confectionery enterprises. In addition to the factory in Moscow, it included a network of branded retail stores, wholesale warehouses in both capitals and at major fairs, a branch of the factory and a sugar factory in Simferopol, a box and packaging plant. Success in this difficult niche, in which the young Abrikosov immediately met many competitors, is mainly explained by his personal qualities.
Another reason for the success was the competent use of advertising and, as they would say today, a creative approach. It was Abrikosov who first came up with the idea of putting small postcards, puzzles and other surprises into chocolates (the kinders, like today, were delighted with this). He is also called the author of chocolate bunnies in bright foil – such sweet toys were even collected, they were so beautiful. And, finally, there are still beloved by Russians candies “Hussies’ pads”. In addition to the unique recipe, exactly half of the sweets’ success is associated with an unusual name. Unusual, but customers liked it.
And examples of Abrikosov’s promotions today can decorate textbooks on marketing. For example, before the new year 1880, a report appeared in the newspapers that only blondes worked as saleswomen in one store in Abrikosov, and only brunettes in another. Of course, Muscovites rushed to check whether this was really so, at the same time buying delicacies for the holiday.