The three drinks we all take for granted – tea, coffee, and chocolate – were all introduced in England in the early 1700s and quickly made their way into the homes and businesses here in Boston. While coffee and tea are still a big part of our diet today, I had no clue that chocolate as a beverage was so popular in the Colonies, specially Boston.
It was also surprising to discover that John Hull, a merchant and goldsmith, was trading chocolate and tobacco in 1667, and that by 1670 chocolate was so common, the Boston selectmen granted Dorothy Jones and Jane Barnard a license “to keep a house of publique” for the selling of coffee and chocolate. In fact, the oldest British custom record in existence referring to chocolate indicates that cocoa arrived in Boston from Jamaica in 1682.
Judge Samuel Sewall writes in his diary in 1697 that he relished a healthy serving of chocolate with his venison for breakfast and recorded further that he liked giving gifts of chocolate to his friends and family. This is not surprising since his first wife, Hannah Quincy Hull, was the only daughter of our early chocolate merchant, John Hull.
In 1719 Rev. Thomas Prince, pastor of the Old South Meeting House, also recorded in his diary that he enjoyed a “porringer” of warm chocolate as part of his morning routine, after family prayers of course.
By the 1730-1740s, our very own Captain Newark Jackson advertised in the New England Weekly Journal that he was making and selling chocolate for wholesale and retail in his shop located near Mr. Clark’s shipyard at the North End of Boston for a “reasonable rate.”
Louis Evan Grivetti, editor of Chocolate: History: Culture and Heritage, indicates in Chapter 27: Boston Chocolate Newspaper Articles and Advertisement 1705-1825 that through diaries, letters, colonial newspaper articles, advertisements and obituary notices there were more than 900 Bostonians associated with the chocolate trade!
From the Hearth of Captain Jackson’s Chocolate Shop
Your Humble Servant,
Mrs. Newark Jackson (Amey)