Baker's Breakfast Cocoa Tin

Baker's Breakfast Cocoa Tin

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This is a Baker's Cocoa tin. At one time, it would have contained cocoa powder for use as drinking chocolate. The tin is primarily yellow, with a brown band at the bottom and blue and yellow writing. On the front is the Baker's trademark, "La Belle Chocolatiere," which is based upon a painting by Jean-Etienne Liotard of a young woman carrying a tray of drinking chocolate.
In 1764, Dr. James Baker provided the financial backing for John Hannon to begin grinding and making chocolate in a grist & saw mill on the Neponset River outside Boston. Hannon, an Irish immigrant, learned chocolate making in England and brought it to the U.S. where chocolate making was still relatively new. After Hannon’s death in 1779, Dr. Baker bought out his heirs and changed the name of the company to Baker’s Chocolate. In 1824, when Dr. Baker’s grandson, Walter, took over ownership of the company, he renamed it to Walter Baker & Company (often simply called Baker’s Chocolate). During the course of his ownership, he expanded the business and made Baker’s Chocolate a household name. The company was bought in 1989 by Kraft Foods, where the brand still exists today (2013).
Chocolate had been known and treasured by Native Americans in Central and South America for thousands of years prior to the arrival of the first Spanish explorers in the late 1400s and early 1500s. Cacao beans were so highly prized by Mayans and Aztecs that they were used as currency in many areas of the Americas. When first taken back to Europe by the Spanish, the chocolate drink continued to be produced exclusively for the enjoyment of royalty or the extremely wealthy. As the cacao bean gradually made its presence known throughout Europe, it still remained trapped in this exclusive section of society well into the 19th century.
The chocolate trade to North America began more than 300 years ago, primarily centered in or near major port cities of the time, such as New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and Newport, RI. Due to lower transportation costs, chocolate was often less expensive in the Americas than in Europe and therefore had a broader consumer base. The Industrial Revolution radically changed chocolate production and helped propel it into the hearts and stomachs of the working class. Instead of being a labor intensive product, it became entirely machine made reducing costs even further in the late 19th and early 20th century. During this time, chocolate went from being something a person drank to being something to eat, finally becoming a treat for the masses.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Container, food
Walter Baker & Co. Ltd.
place made
United States: Massachusetts
Physical Description
tin (overall material)
overall: 17 cm x 9 cm x 6 cm; 6 11/16 in x 3 9/16 in x 2 3/8 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Can Manufacturers Institute
See more items in
Work and Industry: Food Technology
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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