On the Chocolate Trail

Milling of Chocolate

Mills were often used for multiple purposes in shifts for products such as snuff or mustard or linseed oil or chocolate.1 Hannon and Baker reconditioned a former water-powered grist and saw mill on the Neponset for chocolate grinding in about 1765.2

[1736] in NY: As early as January the report of a fire in the Hill Houses of John Roosevelt, Esq., affecting “the Oil-Mill, Chocolate-Mill and Bolting-Mill… ” raises the questions of whether these were all the same mill, perhaps used interchangeably for several different purposes at different times, or three separate mills used for distinct purposes.3

[1737] The promise of producing a better product of chocolate through a newer engine was hawked by a Boston newspaper advert : “By a Gentleman of this Town is bro’t to Perfection, an Engine to Grind Cocoa; a contrivance that cost much less than any commonly known, will effect all that which the Cocoa Grinds… And the Cocoa is finer and better, the Oyly Spirit of the Nut being altogether preserved… ”4

[1748–49] in Maryland: Sephardi Isaac Navarro announced that in addition to his snuff making, he also “… makes and sells as good Chocolate as was ever made in England at 4s.6d per pounds… ”5

[1760] in Pennsylvania: “Whereas Benjamin Jackson Mustard and chocolate maker… ”6

[1762] in New York: At this time, listings for real estate occasionally mentioned chocolate mills, such as this “Chocolate Mill and a Linseed Oil Mill which may also be easily converted into Dwelling-Houses or Store-Houses… ” offered for sale, with a supply of water.7

[1765]Also listed in New York were a house and a lot of ground by the North River with “a large new Chocolate Mill, that goes with a Horse… ”8

[1765] A month later that ad reappeared with a plug for the chocolate business in the area: “N.B. There is no Person that follows the Business of Chocolate making in this Part of the Town, tho’ extremely profitable, and may be learned in all its Branches in a Fortnight… ”9

[1767] With the promise of better quality and larger quantities of chocolate, in Boston in we read of:

A Machine, the newest that has been made in Boston to grind Chocolate and will be warranted. Likewise, A Cleaner of Cocoa for Chocolate, fit to grind 500 wt. in Ten Hours. This Mill is warranted to grind 14 wt. in Two Hours. Any Gentleman inclining to purchase the above Machine may have it a Pennysworth for Cash. The same is to be sold by Henry Snow in Temple Street New-Boston—Choice Chocolate made and Sold by said Snow.10

[1771] In Boston:

BENJAMIN LEIGH Acquaints the Merchants and Shopkeepers That he has Hired Mr. D. Morton, (at the White Horse Inn) a Horse Chocolate Mill, which he intends to occupy in the Business of Grinding Chocolate; those that will please to favor him with their Custom may depend on having it done with dispatch and in the best and purest manner for Twelve Shillings per lb.11

[1773] Innovation in manufacturing chocolate extended to Providence:

Tillinghast and Holroyd have newly erected a Water Mill to grind chocolate which they will make in the purest and best Manner and sell at the cheapest Rate; They also take in Cocoa to grind and will return the same in Chocolate well ground, in a short time and at a very moderate price for grinding.12

[1773] Michael Gratz used the Globe Mill to make mustard as well as chocolate.13

[1775] CHARLES MAISE promoted himself as “MUSTARD AND CHOCOLATE MAKER.”14

1 We can only speculate on the chocolate business that may have been going on in the area of the early Jewish settlement at Mill Street, New York. The Mill Street Synagogue derived its name because of its proximity to a wheat mill, according to Pool, “The Mill Street Synagogue.” Some of these early mill stones are displayed at Congregation Shearith Israel in New York City.

2 Miller, “Calendar,” 2.

3 New York Weekly Journal (January 10 1736): 4.

4 New-England Weekly Journal (September 13 1737): 1.

5 Jewish Museum of Maryland. Paving our Way: Early Maryland, 8 and 24, accessed 2006, www.jhsm.org/html/documents/PavingOurWay1.3.07.pdf.

6 Pennsylvania Gazette (January 3 1760): 5; (March 6 1766): 6.

7 New-York Gazette (May 3 1762): 2.

8 New-York Mercury (March 18 1765): 3.

9 New-York Mercury (April 15 1765).

10 Boston Gazette (November 30 1767): 1.

11 Boston Post-Boy, (May 13 1771): 3.

12 Providence Gazette (September 4 1773): 1.

13 Marcus, The Colonial American Jew, 2:1498n15.

14 Pennsylvania Packet (October 2 1775): 1.

On the Chocolate Trail

On the Chocolate Trail