This next installment of our presidential series traces some meandering threads between the Old North Church, the Kennedys, and the history of molded chocolates!
The practice of molding chocolates dates back as early as the mid-1830s in France, and these first molds were very simple, only thin, geometric shapes. The molds themselves were made of copper because it was a soft metal that could be easily stamped into a shape. These slim molded chocolates were called “flat-backs.” It would not take long for animal shapes to also be attempted, and, about a decade later, three dimensional “double molds” would also be used. Today, the most iconic 3D, animal-shaped chocolate is likely the Easter bunny, and an enormous one of these was sent to the Kennedy White House in April 1961.
The gigantic Easter bunny had been produced in Geneva, Switzerland (the prominent chocolate-making country where milk chocolate was developed) and was a gift to President John F. Kennedy’s three-year old daughter, Caroline Kennedy, from the Board of County Commissioners in Palm Beach County, Florida. Another feature of Caroline’s childhood was (attempting) to memorize Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s lengthy poem “Paul Revere’s Ride.” This was a tradition passed down from the Kennedy side of the family, Caroline’s “Uncle Ted” being one of the few in the family able to recite the poem in its entirety.
As you all, dear readers, are likely very well aware, Captain Jackson’s is located on the campus of the Old North Church, and it was to this church’s belfry that Paul Revere looked in Longfellow’s poem, watching for the signal lanterns so that he could start his historic ride.* It is no coincidence that the Kennedys were interested in this poem that means so much to the Old North campus. Honey Fitz, President Kennedy’s maternal grandfather, was born in a tenement in the North End on February 11, 1863, and he and his descendents were greatly supportive of the local historic site. In fact, in February 1961, only a few months before Caroline recieved her giant chocolate bunny, President Kennedy had been presented with silver reproductions of the Church’s two signal lanterns at the White House Correspondents’ Association’s Annual Presidential Dinner. Kennedy would then display these replicas in the Oval Office for the rest of his presidency.
So when visiting the Old North campus to learn more about that historic ride that so fascinated Longfellow and was appreicated by the Kennedy family, don’t forget to indulge in a little chocolate fun, as well. While we don’t have molded chocolate bunnies like Caroline recieved, we do have molded chocolates of a famous Boston critter, the lobster! Our little milk chocolate lobsters are a popular choice for children coming in to see us at Captain Jackson’s Historic Chocolate Shop as they are the perfect size for a quick, chocolate-y treat!
*For more information about the real events of April 18, 1775, please visit the Old North website.