Twenty-first in our series to appear on the first Friday of each month: Boston Firsts Fridays. #BostonFirsts
First Realty Management Corp. was founded in Boston over 50 years ago. We are proud to call this wonderful city our home, and call focus to some of the events & innovations that happened FIRST in Boston.
BF#21 First Chocolate Factory in the United States (1765)
We’re honestly not trying to sabotage your New Year’s Resolution – we just want to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the first chocolate factory in the United States: the Baker Chocolate Factory of Dorchester, Boston.
Irish-born John Hannon learned the art of processing cacao into bars suitable for boiling to make hot chocolate in London and brought the knowledge with him to New England. The chocolatier teamed with Harvard-schooled physician Dr. James Baker after the two strangers happened to strike up a conversation one day near Boston. Together they would start a business that would become the oldest chocolate producer in the United States.
The Baker-Hannon factory was established on the site of a former sawmill on the banks of the Neponset River in the Dorchester section of Boston, utilizing the water power of the river to produce what would become a staple in kitchens for over 200 years. Hannon’s involvement in the business would come to an end when he disappeared on a chocolate bean procurement trip to the West Indies in 1779. The company soon became the Baker Chocolate Company, offering a money-back guarantee on their product (another Boston First? Possibly – it’s contested.)
Chocolate would continue to be produced in Dorchester until 1965, when General Foods, who had purchased the business in 1927, moved production to Delaware. Baker’s is still produced today by Kraft Foods and the factory has been re-purposed into housing, but the scent of chocolate no longer wafts through Boston…
The scientific name for the cacao tree (also called cocoa) is Theobroma, which means “food of the gods.”
Morgenroth, L. (2006). Boston Firsts: 40 Feats of Innovation and Invention that Happened First in Boston and Helped Make America Great. Boston: Beacon Press. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/630405.Boston_Firsts