November 1, 2019

Roundabout Halloween the sale of chocolate candy in the US soars. No one will give tricks. Children will reportedly net several pounds of treats per (pumpkin) head on their routes. That amount of sugary chocolate sets off alarms: for parents they sound panic, while for...

March 15, 2019

Yes, American Chocolate Week lasts seven days, March 17-23, 2019. But is it really about America? Or chocolate? It depends on your perspective.

1) 'American' at its etymological root would refer to whatever Amerigo Vespucci was snacking on in Florence circa 1492, which c...

February 21, 2019

William Hogarth, A Rake's Progress, Plate 6, The Gaming House, or White's Chocolate House, 1733

From fall 2010 to late summer 2011, Jonathan Swift fulfilled a long-standing commission of chocolate for Stella (Esther Johnson) at the request of her companion, Rebecca Ding...

February 14, 2019

Among other woes once the Glorious Revolution ended in a Declaration of Rights that imposed permanent Protestant rule over England and penal law on Ireland, Dubliners had a hard time procuring chocolate. We know this because Jonathan Swift spent many hours of his life i...

February 7, 2019

Pall Mall, St. James's Square and St. James's Street, c. 1833

If the aroma of coffee wafted circa 1650 from St. Michael's Cornhill to Fleet Street, the sites of London's first cafés, it was on the Mall in St. James's that chocolate found its public. Not one but several e...

January 16, 2019

Cacao trees fall into a special category of flowering plant: cauliflory. While most plants produce their blooms on new growth from the main stem or trunk (conventional inflorescence, or positioning), cacao's flowers and fruits grow directly from their woody trunks. Bota...

January 1, 2019

Turning over a new leaf. Gold leaf.

Chocolate Set on a Stand

2 feet/60cm high

Meissen, 1715-30

December 7, 2018

Limonadier, ière. Marchand qui vend de la limonade, de la liqueur et plusieurs autres sortes de liqueur, comme eaux de cerises, verjus, groseilles, framboise, du sorbet, de l’orangeade, etc.

–Antoine Furetière, Le Dictionnaire universel, 1690

Merchant who sells hard lemon...

November 15, 2018

Dorothy Shirley and Ann Goodenough’s recipes round out the panoply of inventive applications for and spellings of chocolate in seventeenth-century England.

Their countryman, William Hughes, had compiled a list of ways to write the word back in 1672. Hughes' The American...

November 1, 2018

On a recent trip to the Folger Shakespeare Library, I had the opportunity to read cover-to-cover extant seventeenth-century family recipe books of the English household. The above pages from Margaret Baker's family Receipt Book offer a glimpse into the material fascinat...

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