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Boston’s chocolate history

Here’s a bit of history, should you really want to impress visiting chocoholics: The first chocolate made in this country was manufactured in 1765 in Dorchester Lower Mills by John Hannon and James Baker, who brought cocoa beans home from the West Indies. Baker’s Chocolate is still a staple of home bakers everywhere. And “white chocolate”? It’s another local creation, thanks to Frederick Hebert of Herbert Candies in Shrewsbury, who concocted the creamy confection by mixing sugar and milk solids with cocoa butter.

Every chocoholic worth his chips knows the tale of Ruth Wakefield, who accidentally invented the famous Toll House cookie (the official state cookie of Massachusetts) in 1930 at the Toll House Inn in Whitman. Wakefield, who owned the inn with her husband, Kenneth, was making a batch of Butter Drop Do cookies and, out of baking chocolate, cut up a semisweet bar, expecting it to melt into the dough. The chocolate held its shape and creamy texture and, voila! The chocolate chip cookie was born. The recipe — published in Boston newspapers — became an immediate hit, and Nestle began selling chocolate morsels in 1939. As the story goes, Mrs. Wakefield received a lifetime supply of chocolate chips in exchange for her recipe, which still graces the packages today.


Diane Bair
and Pamela Wright