J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Choc-Talk at the Boston Athenaeum, 7 Jan.

On Thursday, 7 January, the Boston Athenaeum will host a lecture by Anthony M. Sammarco on “The Baker Chocolate Company: A Sweet History,” which is also the title of his new book. The talk will start at 12:00 noon. It’s free, but one must reserve a spot by calling 617-720-7600.

The event description says:

The Baker Chocolate Company was founded along the Neponset River in 1765 by Dr. James Baker and James Hannon, a skilled chocolate maker. Over the next two centuries, the company became one of the leading manufacturers of chocolate and cocoa in North America.
I’ve seen notices of similar talks by Mr. Sammarco at other venues, too.

The Baker chocolate factory in Dorchester is often said to be the first in North America. However, the descendants of Joseph Palmer of Braintree wrote that a chocolate factory was among the workshops he and Richard Cranch erected in the Germantown section of that town before the Revolution. And other Bostonians were advertising chocolate in the newspapers as early as the 1720s.

I’m not sure how the Baker Chocolate Company documentation stacks up against the rest. The company has not been shy about promoting its history. Then again, neither were the Palmer descendants.


DAG said...

Interesting, I never knew about the chocolate factory in Germantown. The glass factory I had known about. Growing up in Quincy I recall that when the wind was blowing in the right direction we could smell the Baker Chocolate being made. When the wind was coming from the other direction we could smell the Howard Johnson chocolate factory. Howard Johnson also ran a factory outlet where it was candy heaven for a young boy. Now I need a chocolate fix

J. L. Bell said...

The glassworks was indeed the centerpiece of Palmer and Cranch’s Germantown development. Christopher Seider’s family moved down from Maine to work there before it burned.

It’s possible that Palmer’s descendants were mistaken in saying that there was a chocolate factory as well, but that detail’s in Grandmother Tyler’s Book.