Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

Baker’s is an American brand of chocolate primarily associated with home baking. The modest place it occupies in today’s supermarket with its semisweet, unsweetened, and German’s line of baking chocolate belies the company’s pivotal role in inspiring Americans to make chocolate desserts in the first place. Originally, Baker’s chocolate was not made for baking. The company was established by James Baker in Dorchester, Massachusetts, in 1765. At first, the Walter Baker Company, as it came to be known after the founder’s grandson, manufactured tablets of drinking chocolate. They sold it locally, subsequently expanding their market across the East Coast and then nationally when, in 1869, the Transcontinental Railroad made it possible to ship the chocolate to every major American city. Prior to 1865, Baker’s sold three grades of drinking chocolate: “Best Chocolate,” “Common Chocolate,” and a low-quality “Inferior Chocolate” supplied mainly to American and West Indian slaves.