For hundreds of years, the name Fondue or Fonduë, meant a similar type of dish as our modern Fondue, but one which was, if possible to believe, richer because it included Eggs as well as Cheese and wine. In 1735, Vincent La Chappelle wrote in French of Fonduë de Fromage aux Truffes Fraiches (Cheese Fondue with Fresh Truffles) in his book Cuisinier Moderne but the dish was more of a cross between cheesy Scrambled Eggs and a Cheese Soufflé. Variations were created such as Fonduë à la Genevoise (with added Cream ) or Fonduë à la Piémontaise (with added Truffles). Brillat-Savarin wrote of a Fonduë recipe in 1834. Fondue Valaisanne was also popular but it did not resemble what we know as Fondue and was closer to what we today call “Raclette”
By 1875, the modern version of Fondue was already being popularized as the Swiss National Dish. But the real move to popularize it did not occur until a 1930's marketing push for expensive Swiss cheeses by a Swiss cheese exporters’ group: The Swiss Cheese Union.
One of the major improvements between “cooking cheese with wine” and modern Fondue was the invention of Cornstarch in the late 19th century and its adaption to Fondue, which allowed a much smoother, more stable wine and cheese Emulsion.
The great domestic heyday of Fondue was the in the tie-dyed, bell-bottomed, 1960’s where diners would all tune in, turn on and dig in. In 1956, Swiss native, Konrad Egli, the restaurateur who popularized Cheese Fondue at his New York City Restaurant, Chalet Suisse, extended his product line and introduced Fondue Bourguignonne, where guests could communally cook Meat (originally Beef) in hot oil at their own tables. He inadvertently started the US craze for Fondue as a cooking technique that peaked in the Hippie, communal culture.
Mr. Egli also invented the third great category of fondue: Chocolate Fondue. In the mid-1960’s Egli invented Chocolate Fondue as part of a marketing promotion for the Toblerone Chocolate Company (the link goes off-site). Smart Kitchen’s Chocolate Fondue recipe goes into some more detail about making a Chocolate Fondue.