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Baker's Chocolate Chronology


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1765

James Baker finances John Hannon's chocolate business.

1772

James Baker sets up his own chocolate mill in Daniel Vose’s paper mill, and on July 2, 1772, James Baker makes his first recorded sale of chocolate (later known as Best Chocolate and Premium No. 1).

1779

John Hannon disappears at sea.

1780

James Baker takes over John Hannon’s business to produce the first “Baker’s” brand chocolate.

1791


James Baker brings his son Edmund in as a business partner.

1793

Seth Blake becomes Baker’s first documented, long-term employee, earning $5 per month.

1795


Baker’s first chocolate shipment outside of New England delivers $1,250 worth of chocolate to merchants Wales & Clapper in Baltimore, Maryland.

1798

No. 2 (Common Chocolate) is introduced.

1803

No. 3 (Inferior Chocolate) is introduced.

1804


James Baker retires, leaving business to Edmund.

1806


Edmund Baker builds first Baker family mill for chocolate, grist, and cloth. This mill contains first tub wheels used in the area.

1813


Edmund Baker dismantles his 1806 mill and replaces it with a three-story, forty-foot square, granite building for making chocolate, woolens, and satinets.

1818


Edmund Baker makes his son Walter a business partner.

1823

Edmund Baker retires, leaving the business to Walter.

1827

Walter Baker begins branding his chocolate “W. Baker,” replacing his father’s “E. Baker” brand.

1830


Baker's introduces low-priced Lapham chocolate, named after long-time employee Elisha Lapham.

1834


Baker's employes its first women workers including sisters Christine and Mary Shields, Mary Ann Barker, Abigale Delano, and Betsey Sanborn.

1835


Baker’s is producing over 750 pounds of chocolate per day. Local competitor Preston Mill is making nearly the same quantity.

1835

First mention of Prepared Cocoa, probably an early version of Breakfast Cocoa.

1840


Spiced Cocoa Sticks are introduced.

1843


Walter Baker hires his brother-in-law Sidney Williams as his clerk.

1843

First known shipment of Baker’s chocolate made by train via the Western Railroad.

1844

First mention of Baker’s Homeopathic Chocolate.
1846


Baker’s has eleven people—two men, two apprentices, six women, and a forelady—consistently employed.

1848


The 1813 mill built by Edmund Baker is severely damaged by fire. Walter Baker rebuilds, and erects a sign on the mill that reads “W. Baker & Co., Established 1780.”

1849


Walter Baker hires his half nephew Henry Pierce. Pierce works as a clerk for both Baker and Sidney Williams for $3 per week.

1849

Caracas chocolate is introduced.
1849

Tins of sweet, spiced, French, and Spanish chocolates are shipped to San Francisco for sale to gold miners.

1850


Henry Pierce quits, citing political differences with Walter Baker. Pierce is a liberal Democrat while Baker is a conservative Webster Whig.

1851


Henry Pierce returns at the request of Sidney Williams.

1852


German’s Sweet Chocolate is developed by Baker’s employee Samuel German.

1852


Walter Baker dies. In accordance with Baker’s will, the trustees of the estate appoint Sidney B. Williams to continue running the business under the name Walter Baker & Company.

1854


Sidney Williams dies while on business in Montreal, Canada. The trustees appoint Henry Pierce to run the company, with a ten-year contract that includes an initial two-year trial period.

1856


Henry Pierce renews lease with the Baker estate trustees for the remaining eight years of his ten-year agreement.

1860


Henry Pierce buys out the Preston chocolate mill.

1864


Walter Baker estate trustees renew lease of the business to Henry Pierce for a second ten-year term.

1867


Baker’s Chocolate and Cocoa wins a silver medal at the Paris Exposition.

1868


48 employees are on the payroll, 23 of whom are women. Men are paid up to $48 for 24 days of work, while women receive $20 for the same 24 days.

1868

The first Baker’s brick mill is constructed. This mill contains underground cooling rooms, which allow for limited chocolate production in the summer months.

1868


Henry Pierce installs the company’s first steam engine to power the mills.

1872


The Pierce Mill is built.

1873


Baker’s Chocolate and Cocoa wins highest prizes at the Vienna Exposition.

1874


Walter Baker estate trustees renew lease of the business to Henry Pierce for a third ten-year term.

1875


95 employees are on the payroll, 42 of whom are women. In a 24-day period. men are paid up to $72, while women receive $24.

1876


Baker’s Chocolate and Cocoa wins highest prizes at the Philadelphia Centennial.

1877


Baker's begins distributing lithographed chocolate advertisements at grocery stores.

1877


The image of La Belle Chocolatière is used for the first time on packaging and advertisements.

1881


Henry Pierce buys the Webb chocolate mill. The company hires H. Clifford Gallagher, who later becomes president of the company.

1882


The new Webb Mill is built.

1883


La Belle
becomes Baker’s official company trademark.

1884


Henry Pierce obtains full ownership of Walter Baker & Company from Baker estate trustees.

1888


Construction begins on the Adams Street Mill and is finished one year later.

1889


Baker’s begins advertising on the back covers of novels.

1891


The new Baker Mill is built on the site of the 1848 mill.

1891


Baker’s begins selling its chocolates in some of the country's first coin-operated vending machines.

1895


Henry Pierce incorporates the company officially as Walter Baker & Company, Ltd.

1895


J. Frank Howland is elected first president of the company.

1896


Henry Pierce dies, leaving between $20,000 and $100,000 to the fifteen associates most influential in building the company, and $100 to everyone employed at the mills at the time of his death.

1896

H. Clifford Gallagher becomes next president of the company.

1897


Baker’s business and property is bought by the “Forbes Syndicate” for $4.75 million.

1897


Baker’s has over 400 employees.

1900


Century Sweet Chocolate is introduced.

1901


The Ware Mill burns down.

1902


The new Ware Mill is built.

1903


The Preston Mill is built.

1904


Each employee working for Baker’s at least one year is offered one week’s salary as an annual bonus.

1906

The 3,000 horse power, central Power House is built, consolidating the electrical power for all the mills.

1907


The first air conditioning system is installed at the mills by the Sturtevant Company.

1909


The work week is reduced from 58 hours to 56 hours, two months before Massachusetts required it by law.

1909


Baker’s purchases its first electric truck.

1911


The Forbes Mill is built.

1914

Baker’s purchases its first gasoline-powered truck.

1916


Steel rollers are first used instead of granite, to grind sweet chocolate to a finer consistency.

1917


Baker’s produces a “W.T.W.” ( Win The War) chocolate for allied armies fighting overseas in World War I.

1918


Construction begins on the Administration Building and finishes in 1919.

1918


The first annual company outing is held at Houghton’s Pond in south Milton.

1921


The Power House switches from coal to a cleaner-burning fuel oil.

1922


Co-operative group life insurance plans are offered.

1924


A new medical department is established on-site with a full-time registered nurse.

1926

A small company newspaper, The Chocolate Press, is first published.

1927


Baker’s becomes a division of Postum Cereal Company (later named General Foods).

1928


Baker’s introduces its first milk chocolate.

1934

A co-operative retirement plan goes into effect.

1936


An industrial relations department is established.

1936


Vacation pay is provided for regular employees.

1937


A sickness benefit plan is introduced.

1938


Federal Labor Union No. 21243 of Dorchester Lower Mills is created.

1939


Life and health insurance are expanded by Group Life Insurance.

1940


The cooling system is expanded and modern refrigeration is installed in warehouses.

1941


The concrete Grain Elevators and Silos are built.

1944


Baker’s develops a special “Ration D Bar” for armed forces overseas fighting in World War II. These are also used as emergency rations and distributed to the Red Cross for prisoners of war.

1949


Baker’s is one of several candy companies to donate chocolate for the Berlin Airlift.

1962


General Foods Corporation consolidates four plant operations, including Baker's, into one. Plans would move Baker’s to a new 1,600-person facility in Dover, Delaware. Baker’s is now part of General Foods Jell-O division.

1965

Baker’s moves from Dorchester to Dover, Delaware.

1978

Discussions begin on the first stages of the Lower Mill revitalization.

1980


Lower Mills Industrial District, which includes the former Baker's mill complex, is accepted to the National Register of Historic Places.

1983

The redeveloped Adams Street Mill opens with fifty-three apartments.

1985

Philip Morris acquires General Foods.

1985


The Pierce and Preston mills are combined into one large residential structure with eighty apartments.

1987


The grain elevators and silos are torn down. Initial plans for the site include apartments with a multi-level parking garage. The site is now a parking lot for residents of the Baker Square Condominiums (formerly the Forbes mill building).

1988

Philip Morris acquires Kraft.

1989


Philip Morris merges General Foods and Kraft to form Kraft General Foods.

1995


Kraft General Foods is renamed Kraft Foods, Inc.

2002


The Administration Building opens as residential housing with thirteen artists’ lofts.

2005


Plans to redevelop the Baker Mill and Power House into condominiums are underway.

2005


Baker’s Reserve 225th Anniversary Bar is introduced in celebration of a Baker’s milestone year.