Baker's Chocolate (brand)
Baker's Chocolate is a brand name for the line of baking chocolates made by Kraft Foods. Products include a variety of bulk chocolates, including white and unsweetened, and sweetened coconut flakes. It is one of the largest national brands of chocolate in the United States.
In 1764, John Hannon (or alternatively spelled "Hannan" in some sources) and the American physician Dr. James Baker started importing beans and producing chocolate in the Lower Mills section of Dorchester, Massachusetts.
After Hannon's death, his widow sold the company to Dr. Baker in 1780, and the company was renamed to the Baker Chocolate Company. His first product was a cake of chocolate for making a sweetened chocolate drink. Distribution was mainly in the Northeastern United States until 1804, when Dr. Baker's son, Edmund Baker, inherited the family business and increased production with a state-of-the-art mill.
By 1849, under Walter Baker, the Baker's Chocolate brand had spread to California, during the Gold Rush era. Production was limited to one kind of chocolate until 1852, when employee Samuel German created a new brand of "Sweet Chocolate" that had a higher sugar content than previous baking chocolates. This chocolate was given his name and called "German's Sweet Chocolate". A Dallas, Texas newspaper later printed a cake recipe based on this chocolate with the misnomer "German chocolate cake," a name which stuck through the years.
Production steadily increased through the century. The trademark logo of La Belle Chocolatiere was adopted in 1883 by the fourth-generation familial owner, William Henry Pierce, step-nephew of Walter Baker. Pierce began advertising Baker's Chocolate heavily in newspapers to increase sales. Promotional offers of tableware and logo pins helped attract customers. At his death in 1896, the Forbes Syndicate bought the company. They eventually sold the company to the Postum Cereal Company, later known as General Foods. In 1969, production of Baker's Chocolate moved from Dorchester, Massachusetts to Dover, Delaware. The company was passed onto Kraft Foods in 1989 when they acquired General Foods.
Baker's continues to expand its line of products, focusing on conveniences for the home baker. Some products, such as vanilla extract and cocoa powder, have been discontinued with company turnovers. Other products are available to food service professionals in bulk, considerably different kinds of coconut, cocoa drinks, and bulk chocolate.
Baker's most common products:
- German's Sweet Chocolate 'Bar' (46% cacao)
- Semi-sweet chocolate (54% cacao)
- Bittersweet chocolate (67% cacao)
- Unsweetened chocolate (100% cacao)
- White decorating chocolate (0% cacao)
- Premium white chocolate (0% cacao)
- Dipping chocolate (milk or semi-sweet)
- Semi-sweet chocolate chunks (54% cacao)
- Sweetened Angel Flake coconut
- Cf. Committee of the Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society, "History of the Town of Dorchester, Massachusetts", Boston : E. Clapp, Jr., 1859. Cf. p.627. The spelling here is John Hannan, but in later sources, Hannon is used.
- Houston, Herbert S. (April 1902). "Baker Chocolate Advertising Supplement: Chocolate Making in America". The World's Work: A History of Our Time V: PT1–PT8. Retrieved 2009-07-10. Includes historic photos of Baker Chocolate facilities.
- Baker's Official Website (Kraft Foods)
- Boston Globe
- "Walter Baker Chocolate Company" - Dorchester Atheneum
- Cf. also: "Walter Baker & Co. General History" - Dorchester Atheneum
- Committee of the Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society, "History of the Town of Dorchester, Massachusetts", Boston : E. Clapp, Jr., 1859. Cf. p. 627.
- Stevens, Peter F., "It Happened in Dorchester: Dr. Baker and the Chocolate Factory", Dorchester Reporter, History of Dorchester.
- The Bostonian Society, "Sweet History: Dorchester and the Chocolate Factory", in conjunction with Kraft Foods, the Dorchester Historical Society, and the Milton Historical Society.