Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Chocolate in the Commonwealth

One of my favorite things in life just so happens to be chocolate, so you can imagine my delight when I came across the library’s 1899 edition of the title Cocoa and chocolate: a short history of their production and use while I was perusing the library’s shelves.  It was published by Walter Baker & Company, which operated factory buildings in locations such as the Lower Mills Village on the Neponset River between Dorchester and Milton, Massachusetts.  It’s an interesting book that educates the reader on how chocolate is made—or at least in the late 19th century—and also tells the story of the company, describing itself as “the oldest and largest establishment of its kind on this continent” with its origins going back as far as 1765.  Baker’s Chocolate did not become a household name until after the death of John Hannon in 1779, when the company was known as Hannon’s Best Chocolate.  Ownership switched over to James Baker in 1780 and then to Walter Baker in 1823, who rebranded the company under his name.  The company stayed within the Baker family until it officially organized under state law in 1895; in 1898 the company was incorporated through an act of the legislature.

For more information on the company and chocolate production in Massachusetts, check out the in depth online exhibit entitled “Sweet History:  Dorchester and the Chocolate Factory” created by the Bostonian Society: http://www.bostonhistory.org/sub/bakerschocolate/

Other related titles by Walter Baker & Co.:

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Department