Tag Archives: Fry’s

Chocolate: transitioning from the drink of the elite to the confection of the masses

If one stands near the Chicago River fork, just by the world famous Merchandise Mart, they are struck by a familiar and enticing smell.  On a good day, a large portion of downtown Chicago smells distinctly of chocolate. Following the railway lines just west of the river will lead you to the Blommer chocolate factory.  Blommer currently processes almost 45% of the cacao beans in the U.S. and the Chicago headquarters stands as their largest processing plant.  The smell is so strong and distinct, you can actually discern the difference between when they are making milk chocolate versus cocoa powder or dark chocolate.  Traveling further down the river to the North is a strip of land that use to hold a coffee roasting plant.  On a perfect day, these smells would intermingle as the roasting released their warm bitter notes on the air, reminding us of coffee and chocolate’s shared past.chocolate map

(A former tumbler post allowed Chicagoans to track the chocolate scent daily)

Standing there, it begs the question about where their paths diverged. How did chocolate make the transformation from the beverage of revolutionaries and royalty to a confectionary treat to appease the masses?

By the time cacao became the darling of beverage establishments, the Old World had abandoned the Humors system of medicine.  No longer were there debates as to whether chocolate was warm or cold or how to best balance it with spices.  At the same time, drug crops such as tea, coffee and chocolate, which had long been associated with wealth and status, were becoming more accessible. Daily rituals were created around these beverages, often with the addition of sugar, which was growing in popularity. However, both chocolate and coffee fell out of favor as a beverage when the British East India Company increased the tea supply, causing tea prices to drop dramatically.  The lower prices made it more accessible, transforming it to a national compulsion for the British.  Coffee would eventually become more accessible and regain some lost ground, but rather than look to rebound as a beverage choice, chocolate evolved in the food space as a confection and flavoring.

Several different innovations helped chocolate with this evolution.  Going back to its heyday as a beverage, drinking chocolate was growing in popularity in the new world.  At the time, cacao was still being ground and processed by hand on matates.  It was an arduous process, that took time and manpower, keeping chocolate in the hands of those who could afford it.  In 1765, Dr. James Baker partnered with John Hannon to simplify the process and reduce labor.  The pair rented a grist mill in Milton Lower Falls, MA, using water power to grind the chocolate.  This was chocolate’s first step in to the industrial age, liberating it from the labor of hand grinding and creating a more consistent product. The company they formed, Baker chocolates, still exists today under the Kraft Heinz company.

Baker Chocolate Grist Mill, Lower Milton Falls

(Baker Chocolates still stands today in Milton Falls, MA)

The next leap forward for chocolate came in 1824 from the Swiss.  Coenraad Van Houten, a Swiss chemist, developed a new processing method using a hydraulic press.  The press removed more than 70% of the cacao butter from the cacao nibs, leaving a cake, which could be easily turned in to powder.  The cacao was then treated with alkaline, which reduced the bitterness, making for a milder, more palatable chocolate.  This not only made it cheaper and easier to make in to a beverage, but the resulting powder could be used as a flavoring for cakes, and other confections, helping chocolate easily expand it’s usage beyond beverages in to foodstuffs.


(Van Houten’s Press had a multi-stage process to remove fats from the cacao nibs)

The next innovation came from the Quakers in England.  In 1847, as sugar consumption was taking a drastic turn up, Joseph Fry mixed cocoa powder and sugar with melted cacao butter.  The resulting mixture was malleable enough to be cast in to a mold, making the world’s first eating chocolate, and transforming chocolate from flavor to stand alone item.


The Swiss continued to innovate and in 1867 Henri Nestle, a Swiss chemist devised a way to make powder milk through a process of evaporation.  This would become the first ready to mix infant formula. (which would eventually lead to a rather sorted history among the Nestle company.) This innovation proved to be useful when in 1879 Daniel Peter used it to make the first milk chocolate bar by mixing with chocolate liquor, drying the moisture out of the mix and adding cacao butter.  The resulting chocolate was sweeter, smoother, and more palatable.

Not to be outdone, that same year Rudolphe Lindt invented the conching machine.   The machine consisted of a flat granite base and granite roller.  Cacao nibs were ground by the roller and the resulting liquor was splashed over it at the end of each roll, allowing more air to come in contact during the process.  The conching process had several major advantages.  First, the continual motion caused the  cacao to be more finely ground, which would eventually produce a smoother chocolate. Second, the contact with the air made it easier for moisture and volatile oils to evaporate, removing some of the acidity and making for a milder, more enjoyable flavor. Lastly, and importantly, the friction in the conching process created heat, this allowed chocolate makers to reduce roasting time (as some could be done in during the conching process), which sped up chocolate production dramatically.

The last leap forward toward mass produced chocolate takes us back to the United States with Milton Hershey.   In 1903, Hershey was just starting to build his chocolate empire in the center of Pennsylvania.  The one process that he struggled with was processing the milk for his milk chocolate with attempts often leading to scorched or burnt milk.  He finally called in John Schmalbach, who mixed skim milk with a high ratio of sugar.  Using low heat evaporation, he was able to create sweetened condensed milk.  The resulting product mixed beautifully with cocoa powder and cacao butter.  Not only did it produce eating chocolate, but the process made the chocolate more shelf stable and able to be stored for several months.  It also created a smoother mixture overall, which was easier to move through equipment and molds, allowing them to make chocolate faster and cheaper.  We now had a chocolate that was cheap and fast to produce, and could stay fresh for months, allowing it to be shipped further and stocked longer. With Hershey’s the once beverage of royalty was forever transformed into an indulgence for the masses.

works sited:

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. 2007 (1996) The True History of Chocolate.

Brenner, Joel. 2000. The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars.

D’Antonio, Michael D. 2006. Milton S. Hershey’s Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams.

MacCarther, Kate. “Blommer Chocolate to Back Cocoa Sustainability Program.” Crain’s Chicago Business. May 9, 2012. (online version)

Mintz, Sidney W. 1986 (1985) Sweetness and Power.

Murray, Sarah. 2007. Moveable Feasts: From Ancient Rome to the 21st Century, the Incredible Journeys of the Food We Eat.

http://chicagococoasmell-blog.tumblr.com/ (retrieved 3/4/2018)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conche (retrieved 3/5/2018)


Chocolate Production for the Masses

By the mid-to-late 18th century, the Industrial Revolution was in full swing around the world. New methods of production were being invented across a variety of industries. Goods could now be shipped quickly over long distances via steam engines, and textiles were being mass produced via machinery. One industry that continued to lag behind during this era, on the other hand, was chocolate. To this point, chocolate remained a labor intensive drink reserved for the elite, and the beverages were still being masterfully hand-crafted in coffee and chocolate houses across Europe. A turning point was just around the corner, however, as several inventions, including those of Coenraad Johannes van Houten, Joseph Storrs Fry, and Rodolphe Lindt, were to join the revolution over the next few decades and change the face of chocolate forever.

The late 1820s brought the first of three great changes to the chocolate industry. By this time, chocolate makers were in search of a new, cheaper way to produce chocolate, so they could expand their consumer bases and earn a greater profit. In 1828, Coenraad Johannes van Houten “took out a patent on a process for the manufacture of a new kind of powdered chocolate with a very low fat content” (Coe and Coe 234). His development led to the production of a hydraulic press which was able to reduce the fat content – or cocoa butter – in chocolate liquor from about 53 percent to 27-28 percent and produced a cake that could be crumbled into a fine dust that is known today as cocoa powder (Coe and Coe 234). Dutching, or adding alkaline salts to this powder, allowed for better mixing in water and produced a drink that was “easily prepared, [and] more easily digestible” (Coe and Coe 234-235) than the standard cocoa drink of that time. As the dutched cocoa powder was easily mixed with water in a quick process, far less labor was required to craft each beverage. In addition, the van Houten ad depicted below explains that this new powder was very potent and a very small amount could be used to craft a desirable cup of cocoa. These two changes produced a shift from limited consumption by the elite, to widespread enjoyment among the masses.

Van Houten's Cocoa, heard in the train. 'Yes, Miss, when travelling I always drink Van Houten's Cocoa. It is so sustaining.' [front]
The front of an ad card for van Houten’s cocoa.
Van Houten's Cocoa, heard in the train. 'Yes, Miss, when travelling I always drink Van Houten's Cocoa. It is so sustaining.' [back]
The back of the card, touting the beverage’s benefits.

While van Houten was responsible for the first great change to the chocolate industry in 1828, a few decades later in 1847, Joseph Storrs Fry was responsible for perhaps the greatest change to the industry. Using cocoa powder, sugar, and melted cacao butter, Fry was able to produce a “less viscous [chocolate] paste which could be cast into a mold” (Coe and Coe 241). These molded chocolate bars became the first true eating chocolate.  Early demand for the new confection drove the price of cacao butter up, and relegated the treat to a new form of chocolate that was reserved for the elite (Coe and Coe 241). Van Houten’s cocoa powder remained the chocolate of choice for the masses through this time, thanks to its low cost (Coe and Coe 241). The shift from drinking chocolate to eating chocolate opened a new market for chocolate makers of this era. The treat was quickly targeted by mass producers who saw the possibility of greater marketability of the more portable confection.  Eventually, new technologies and changes to the production process allowed chocolate manufacturers to once again target the masses with their marketing, as exemplified in the following ad for Fry’s Five Boys milk chocolate bars.

An ad for Fry’s chocolate bars.

As more producers entered the ring of chocolate bar crafting, each strove to make their chocolate bar better than the competition.  As a result of this competitive stance, consumers were treated to the third great change to face the chocolate industry during this time: the conching process developed by Rodolphe Lindt. Lindt built on Fry’s notion of eating chocolate, but desired to move away from the inherent graininess of the current process (Presilla 40). In 1879, he developed a “sloshing-and-kneading apparatus called a ‘conche’” (Presilla 40). The liquid chocolate was mechanically pressed between a granite roller and base, pieces which are illustrated below, in an enclosed basin for twenty-four or more hours until the cocoa and sugar particles had been broken (Presilla 40-41).  The resulting chocolate was silkier than its predecessors and became the preferred chocolate of the time.  To this day, consumers often judge chocolate on its smooth quality in addition to its flavors.

A granite roller and base, like those found in Lindt’s conche.

While chocolate has undergone many changes since its first introduction to Europe in the 16th century, these three changes to the chocolate production process provided the greatest changes the industry has seen. Once, a difficult to craft beverage for the elite, chocolate has shifted to become a commodity enjoyed by all classes of people. Thanks to the changes that occurred during this era, cheap hot cocoa made from powder and smooth, mass-produced chocolate confections are the norm across much of the industry today. Without the ingenuity and inventiveness of van Houten, Fry, and Lindt, the chocolate industry could have continued to lag behind others and chocolate may not have become the consumer staple it is.

Works Cited

Coe, Sophie D. and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. 3rd ed. London: Thames & Hudson, 2013. Print.

Presilla, Maricel E. The New Taste of Chocolate Revised. New York: Ten Speed Press, 2009. Print.

Image Sources

Frys five boys milk chocolate. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons, 2015. Web. 9 March 2016.

Granite Roller and Granite Base of a Conche. 1 February 2014. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons, 2014. Web. 9 March 2016.

Van Houten, C. J. and Zoon. Van Houten’s Cocoa, heard in the train. ‘Yes, Miss, when travelling I always drink Van Houten’s Cocoa. It is so sustaining.’ [back]. 1870-1900. Digital image. Boston Public Library. Flickr, 2012. 9 March 2016.

Van Houten, C. J. and Zoon. Van Houten’s Cocoa, heard in the train. ‘Yes, Miss, when travelling I always drink Van Houten’s Cocoa. It is so sustaining.’ [front]. 1870-1900. Digital image. Boston Public Library. Flickr, 2012. 9 March 2016.

The Enlightenment’s Influence on Chocolate Traditions

In Europe and the America’s during the Enlightenment Period of 1685-1815 chocolate traditions expanded dramatically.  The Enlightenment was a period in time when traditional authority such as the Roman Catholic Church was questioned and scientific process and free thinking were introduced and encouraged.  This shift in attitude and thinking also influenced chocolate traditions in Europe and the Americas.

During the beginning of the Enlightenment period (1685-1730) chocolate was consumed mostly by the elite. The chocolate drink would be prepared in silver chocolatiers complete with  molonillos to create the beloved foam so that a person could consume the beverage upon waking as well as throughout the day for enjoyment and nourishment.(Coe, 222)

Aquatint by Noel Le Mire ( 1724-1830) La Crainte (‘Fear’) The young woman gestures toward a silver chocolatiere, complete with moulinet, (Coe, 222)
The Four Temperments (image , hearthsidehealing.com)


During this period, chocolate was still used for medicinal  purposes as part of the Galenic Theory of Humors. Common medical uses for chocolate were to soothe the stomach or increase a person’s sexual appetite. The tradition of drinking chocolate daily to improve ones health became a casualty of the scientific method  introduced during the Enlightenment. Many scientists disproving the medical benefits of drinking chocolate daily as lauded by the Galenic Humoral theory. (Coe, 203)

chocolate as medicine, image from google images.







As the Enlightenment period progressed so did chocolate traditions.  Once, sipping on a hot chocolate drink was enjoyed only in the comfort of private homes of the elite upper class until public Chocolate and Coffee houses sprang up around London. These houses offered coffee, tea, chocolate and cider drinks to more than the elite upper class. Anyone who could afford the cost of chocolate or other drinks was welcome to drink whilst discussing politics and gossip. (Coe,167)


Chocolate /Coffee Houses were popular gathering spots for elite and upper middle classes.(image from googleimages.com)
The Bedford Coffee House, Covent Garden, in the middle of the eighteenth century
political discussion while drinking chocolate was encouraged during the enlightenment (googleimages.com)



During this period the tradition of drinking chocolate at home or with others in a small group in an intimate setting transformed to enjoying drinking chocolate socially in large groups.




The Enlightenment Era was a time of free thinking and experimentation to create new traditions or improve upon the existing traditions. This included the use of chocolate in food. It was during the Enlightenment Era that chocolate consumption increased and went from being mainly consumed as a drink to being “ eaten in the form of bars, pastilles, as ices, and included in recipes for desserts, main dishes, and even pastas and soups.” (Coe, 203)

ground cacao (stock photo google images)

The  culinary and other  experimentation of chocolate became so  widespread during this period that the Poet Francesco Arisi , an apparent cacao purist , upset at the level of cacao misuse wrote a poem listing his complaints including “ those who put an egg and yolk into it as well as he who “dirties his nose” by taking snuff with it. ” (Coe, 214.)


cacao beans ( stock photo google images)

In the North of Italy the cooks were very adventurous with their use of chocolate in their recipes and included it in their pasta and meat dishes.

Chocolate Cookbook (image from googleimages.com)

One particular recipe for lasagna mentioned in  the 1786 manuscipt frm Macerata includes a “sauce made of almonds, anchovies, walnuts and chocolate.”  ( Coe, 215)  As  a big fan of pasta sauce, lasagna and chocolate,  I must admit the thought of chocolate and anchovies  in the sauce on my lasagna does not appeal to me.  Thankfully, the tradition of using  chocolate in main dishes that include meat and fish did not last. However,  the tradition of chocolate as an ingredient in desserts with flour , sugar, fruits and nuts has continued to be popular in Europe and the Americas.

We can thank the J.S. Fry & Sons for the tradition of eating solid chocolate as bars. It was in 1847 that the Fry firm discovered how to “mix cocoa powder, sugar and melted cocoa butter into a mold to create a solid bar of chocolate. (Coe, 241).  The solid bars  could be manufactured in large quantities and therefore be available to a larger audience of people. Fry , Cadbury, Hersey and Mars took the bar chocolate to the next level by  adding ingredients to the chocolate bars including peanuts, peanut butter,  caramel and cream filling. ( Martin, class lecture, March 9,2016)

A new tradition- candy bars ( image from google images.com)

Many of the chocolate traditions of the Enlightenment era continue today including chocolate confections, baked goods and drinks.
We still enjoy chocolate as a hot drink, although today we drink it from ceramic mugs and do not usually use a molonillo to whip up a froth.

hot chocolate  ( image from google images.com)




silver chocolatier (image from google images.com)




Desserts and chocolate continue to be a perfect combination and includes such delicious treats as chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, chocolate bars , nuts covered in chocolate and chocolate biscuits to name a few.

classic chocolate cake ( photo from cookingnewyorktimes.com)

Works Cited

Coe, Sophie D. and Michael D. The True History of Chocolate. Third Edition. Thames & Hudson. Print


Chance the Wrapper? The Role of Packaging in the Industrialization of Chocolate

The industrialization of food over time was a complex process that has led to one undeniable fact: the relationship that humanity experiences with the food it consumes has evolved rapidly in the last century.  This process can be decomposed into various components that each contributed to this changing relationship, and one of the more important innovations of industrialization was the creative use of packaging to increase and solidify the consumer base.  Chocolate wrappers were specifically transformative because they transitioned chocolate from a relatively uniform product to brands that could be easily distinguished by consumers.  The packaging was important in the development of chocolate as an industrialized food over time because it allowed vendors to facilitate the movement from open markets to retail shops; target specific consumer demographics; and project an image to create brand loyalty.

The movement to retail sale of chocolate was facilitated by the use of packaging because the chocolate wrappers served as a medium of advertisement that allowed consumers to differentiate between products easily.  The shift from open markets to retail shops was significant to the industrialization of food as a whole because it led to a “considerable degree of homogenization” (Brooks p. 85).  With regards to chocolate, the shift to retail was accompanied by uniformity between different batches of the same product.  However, this shift would not have been possible without the growth of unique chocolate packaging.  In the produce market system of food sale, the consumer was able to purchase based on his or her interpretation of signals in the marketplace.  If one seller had a number of consumers crowded around him, his product was likely to be of quality.  And the only way one would know which product was sold by this vendor would be to physically purchase it from him; once the food left the marketplace, it was difficult to distinguish from other similar products sold by different vendors.

The Yorkie Bar

The use of unique packaging transformed this relationship because it allowed consumers to distinguish similar products sold by different vendors at a glance.  The ability of the consumer to quickly differentiate enhanced the retail movement because shops could now sell products from multiple vendors and present the consumer with an expanded set of choices in chocolate consumption.

The retail movement broadened consumer options for chocolate consumption, and companies were now faced with the challenge of differentiating themselves and attracting customers.  The packaging of their chocolate was important to this goal because it allowed companies to communicate with the consumer and target specific demographics with their message.  An example of demographic targeting is the original Yorkie bar; by stating “It’s not for girls!” Yorkie attracted young males who strived to establish their manhood and identity to their product.  Many consumers do not look past this, often picking the product that interests them immediately (Cahyorini and Rusfian p.12).  For many men, the Yorkie slogan proved to pique their interest enough to warrant immediate purchase.

Fry’s Turkish Delight

Another common target of chocolate companies was young girls, as evidence by this Fry’s Turkish Delight wrapper.  The bright pink wrapper with the gold star preys upon the princess fantasies often fed to young girls.  The targeting power of chocolate packaging underscored the formation of a consumer base and was, therefore, essential to the industrialization of chocolate.

While some chocolate wrappers boldly sought out certain types of consumers, others employed more subtle techniques to project their image and solidify their place in the lives of consumers.  I primary example of this is the standard Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate bar.  The packaging is simple, yet elegant, and the purple coloring functions as a tribute to the royal crown.  Since the color of the packaging is the first part of the product that the brain registers (Beneke et. al. p.57), the royal association is foundational to the image that Cadbury wants to project: its place as the English chocolate.  It evokes fierce loyalty to queen and country, values cherished by the British, and associates consumption of Cadbury chocolate with those values.  Allegiance to Cadbury became symbolic of faithfulness to Britain, and this fueled mass consumption.

Original Cadbury’s Dairy Milk

Chocolate wrappers facilitated industrialization because they revolutionized consumer relations to chocolate consumption.  Creative use of packaging was able to evoke emotions of manhood, womanhood, and country.  It expanded consumer choice and conveyed messages from producer to consumer without direct contact between the two.  The chocolate wrapper, now taken for granted, underpinned the industrialization of chocolate and facilitated the growth of the widely consumed products we know today.




Yorkie: http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/CWMYorkie.jpg

Turkish Delight: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/36/Frys-Turkish-Delight-Wrapper-Small.jpg

Cadbury: https://www.cadbury.co.uk/~/media/cadburydev/com/images/story/HERITAGE_IMAGES_0021_24_IMAGE_PURPLE_CDM_BAR.png

Goody, Jack (2013).  Industrial Food: Toward the Development of a World Cuisine.  New York, NY: Routledge.

Cahyorini, Astri, and Rusfian, Effy Z. (2011). The effect of packaging design on impulsive buying.  Journal of Administrative Science and Organization, 18(1), 11-21.

Beneke, Justine, et.al. (2015).  Chocolate, colour and consideration: an exploratory study of consumer response to packaging variaetion in the South African confectionery sector.  International Journal of Marketing Studies, 7(1), 55-65.