Boston Chocolate Adventure

Fun Fact: Boston is steeped deep in chocolate history!  This was my surprising discovery when I decided to create a Boston Chocolate Adventure for me and my sons (as a belated Mother’s Day adventure together).  I started the same way I did for my New York City chocolate adventures, by considering the local tours.  In one of the tour descriptions, there was a reference to the history of chocolate in Boston.  This piqued my interest, and I  – being always curious – decided to look into it some more!  (If you’re anxious for the free tour, check the itinerary and link to the Google Maps I created for ‘all the chocolate in Boston’ is at the end).

Frisky Puritans and Pilgrims

The impression I had of the Colonials who were making America their new homeland was that they were a pretty austere group, all work and no play.  The facts I uncovered show that drinking chocolate was a regular habit for many, and sold in the taverns alongside coffee for those who did not want to partake of ales & spirits.  It is believed chocolate first came to the Colonies shortly after Londoners had discovered it’s pleasures, around 1657.  Think about that – more than a century before the American Revolution!

The first chocolate-related ad in a North American English newspaper, The Boston News-Letter, 12/3/1705
Talk about independent women! In 1670 two women, Dorothy Jones and Jane Barnard, were granted separate approvals for their petitions “to keepe a house of publique Entertainment for the selling of Coffee & Chochalettoe.” Dorothy’s husband was a minister who moved around, leaving her to support herself and her family. Barely above being considered property themselves, it was amazing these two women were able to own these coffee houses!

Captain Jackson’s Historic Chocolate House

Captain Newark Jackson, as a merchant and mariner, imported cacao beans to the new colonies, among other things (including looking glasses, salt and even buttons) during the 1730s-1740s.  His storehouses were located in the North End, and as a sign of his wealth he paid for a pew in the Old North Church.  In those days, most of the cacao came from Venezuela, Brazil and the three countries on the coast in-between (now called Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana).  European countries controlled the exports, and mandated that shipments go to their countries first and then exported to other countries with heavy taxes.  Mariners like Captain Jackson didn’t want to pay those fees, and basically went direct to the suppliers and brought (what the mother countries would call) contraband home.  This swarthy sailor lost his life to pirates off the coast of Dutch controlled Suriname.  Rumor has it that his ship had a cargo bay full of slaves (being the time of the infamous “Triangular Trade” between Europe, the colonies and West Africa).  But, what he will be remembered for now is his time as a chocolatier, especially with the museum named after him: Captain Jackson’s Historic Chocolate House.

In front of the Clough house, where Captain Jackson’s Historic Chocolate museum is located (by the Old North Church). We went on a Sunday morning, when the church had services – so no tour of the church!
Captain Jackson’s was great for a historic insight into chocolate and the daily use in Colonial times. The experience all depends on the interest of the actor of the day. It was pretty cool to see that the Puritans who founded our country were, well…kind of chocolate addicts!
This is a colonist’s year’s worth of sugar! The seal has a large T…for TAX! Colonists learned to use spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, chile, orange rinds and salt) to make the bitter cacao tastier. No sugar was used, or very minimal amounts for the wealthier colonists. I read that if they made chocolate their breakfast, they would add eggs, bread and maybe some other fillers.

Chocolate Pots

At Captain Jackson’s, the demonstrator showed us a chocolate pot with the stir stick that goes up the middle, and is used to froth the chocolate. In my research, I learned about the creation of chocolate pots made from silver.  Today there are nine in existence.  Not far from the Old North Church and Paul Revere’s house, there were stately homes where high society types had their ‘Chokolette’ made regularly.  I think many others may have existed, but many were melted down (along with other silverware) in the 1800s. I was surprised to learn Paul Revere, the famous silversmith, did not make any chocolate pots – though he made plenty of creamers, spoons and teapots. 

A silver chocolate pot made by Edward Winslow in 1705 (now residing at the Met in NY). Notice how the handle is on the side, and the acorn at the top is held on by a chain. Some pots had the spouts higher up, so that the sediment would less likely to come out. Can you imagine having company over and using this specialized equipment? I can think of modern ones that are also very single-use!
The Edward Winslow silver chocolate pot was used at a home by a high society-type that was located near the bakeries (Modern Bakery), built in 1692 but burnt in 1832. I thought it would be fun to see the example of the architecture, represented here by the Pierce-Hichborn house next to Paul Revere’s home. This architecture was also used over at Harvard. I had the spot marked where the home where the silver chocolate pot came from, but the streets of the North End confused me (um, yeah, they do) plus the streets have changed since those day!
I found this map of Little Italy from the early 1700s. As you can see, Boston had a lot more water back then! Apparently Beacon Hill and the suburbs were used to fill in many of the waterways to make room for the growing population over the past centuries. These ports brought in hundreds and hundreds of pounds of cacao beans! Who knew these Puritans and Pilgrims were so hot for coco?

Not far from here are two well-known places for Cannolis, which reflect the Italian heritage of the area.  We popped into Mike’s, but it was really crowded.  We stayed at Modern Pastry and enjoyed a morning coffee and items from their showcase of chocolates.  Most tours would spend a half a day in each section of town (Little Italy, Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Southie – aka the South End, or Cambridge), but I had just this short day.  My tour continued to Beacon Hill.  Walking or taking the T is about the same amount of time.  We were going to walk, but the rain helped us decide to hop a cab.

Inside peek at Mike’s Pastry. Connor had been there before, so on to the next spot. PS – we weren’t impressed with Bova Bakery, even though it had good reviews. Their coffee looked worse than a church after service!
When I walked in to Modern Pastry, I felt as if I was in a traditional Italian place in the Bronx! I bet the history’s aren’t far from each other in many ways. This place is also known for it’s cannolis, but we were in the mood for something different.
The service was friendly, the chocolate yummy and the coffee a solid counterpoint. We enjoyed taking our time resting at this spot!
When I saw this sign, I thought of Boston’s other big chocolate story – Baker’s Chocolate. Dr. James Baker, a Dorchester physician (who knew the health benefits of cacao) met up with John Hannon, an Irish immigrant who knew how to make cacao into chocolate. This partnership started the world’s first chocolate manufacturer, Bakers Chocolate. The little shiny squares were (and still are) used in baking. Click on the picture to link to the Baker history page. (PS – Baker’s Alley apparently refers to Little Italy’s first bakery, before Mike’s and Modern Pastry shops!)

Beacon Hill

Fortunately, the places in Beacon Hill are all on the same street and within short walks of each other.  The cab dropped us in front of Fastachi, which (oops) didn’t open until noon.  We looked in the window and saw it was a store that focuses on nuts, and had a nice display of craft chocolates near the front window.

*Note to self, check the hours of the places being visited, to make sure they’ll be open!

A quick run through the rain, and up a few stairs, we opened the doors to Beacon Hill Chocolates.  The smells wafted over us, and I knew this was the perfect place to hang out for a while. My sons had the gelato (delicious) and I was entranced by all the craft chocolate bars I’d never seen before. I’m still enjoying learning about the makers of these bars, some of whom are local to this area!

BHC is a favorite of the tours, and it’s easy to see why – lots of excellent chocolate in this store!
I was like a kid in a candy store! HAHAHAHA!!
Once summer comes, they have more gelato and sorbeto options.
This spot looks mighty inviting, and would be a great spot for brunch (served all the time!). If we didn’t already have a reservation at Max Brenner’s, this would be my choice.

Back Bay

The ability to shift our attitudes made this part of our adventure better.  It continued to rain as we walked from Beacon Hill, through the Boston Commons to Back Bay.  There are quite a few chocolate places around here, but we stuck with two – L.A. Burdick’s on Clarendon Street and then for a chocolatey brunch at Max Brenner’s on Boylston Street.

L.A. Burdick moved into this location in 2012. The building was built in 1883 as someone’s home, but at one time may have been used as a British Consulate.
After walking in all that rain, their hot chocolate really hit the spot. They offered to make it with almond milk, to cater to my food sensitivities. The store has an open, inviting vibe and their selection of their branded chocolates was impressive. Not just cute little chocolate mice, but a wide variety of single origin bars too!
Another run through the rain resulted in more hot chocolate at Max Brenners, our chocolate brunch choice. There is a location in NYC, which I noticed had a bigger “store” part than this location. Almost everything on the menu has some kind of chocolate – including the cheesy waffle fries with chocolate- spiced bacon!
Connor decided I needed a demonstration on how to sip from the Hug Mug. It’s so awesome how my sons took care of me on my belated Mother’s Day!

As adventures sometimes go, we didn’t make it to the last planned stop, the Gourmet Boutique (a high end foodie gift store).  Instead we headed into the Prudential Center as a nice walk to the Back Bay Amtrak station.  Inside this mall there are plenty of chocolate stores, and a Fastachi kiosk, if you really want more chocolate.  The Eataly is in this area, which is rumored to have amazing hot chocolate and other Italian chocolates which would be worth the time.

More Boston, More Chocolate!

Click on the map below for the custom Google map of the chocolate places on this tour, and others I’ve found.  If you go after June 1st, a new place is opening in the Boston Public Market called Goodnow Farms.  This couple goes to different countries to buy their cacao beans and create their chocolates in their barn in Sudbury.  Although a new company, they’ve garnered several awards for their bars!

My impression is that the South End is becoming a bit like Brooklyn, with all sorts of artisanal everything popping up.  If I went there, I’d probably sign on with a paid tour, just to get the latest spots. Try Cocoa Beantown  which has a bunch to choose from, be sure to ask for Victoria – the Chief Chocolate Officer (I recently met her, and she’s pretty cool.) The Taza Chocolate Factory is in Somerville, and that’s worth a trip by itself, but there are other places nearby that would make it a cool adventure.   Cambridge has a few fun places, but what I want to check out is the FCCI (or Chocolate Institute or Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute) where the founder also teaches a course on chocolate at Harvard!

Adventure Wednesdays Chocolate Tour of Boston

Captain Jackson’s Historic Chocolate House (Old North Church)

21 Unity St, Boston, MA 02113

Mike’s Pastry (known for its cannoli’s)

300 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113

Foster-Hutchinson house (where it stood 1693-1833, owners of the Winslow Chocolate Pot)

3 Garden Ct St, Boston, MA 02113

Pierce/Hichborn house (built 1711, similar in style to F-H home, to get an idea.  Next to Paul Revere house)

19 N Square, Boston, MA 02113

Modern Pastry (rival to Mike’s Pastry, apparently excellent hot chocolate)

244 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113


Haymarket, Congress Street & New Sudbury Street, Boston, MA 02108, United States

Take the Green Line C (towards Cleveland Circle) or E (towards Heath St) 2 stops to Park Street stop


Downtown Crossing Station, Boston, MA 02108

Walk through Boston Common, by Frog Pond, down Beacon to Charles St

Beacon Hill Chocolates

89 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114, USA


83 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114

Tatte Bakery

70 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114

Head back to Boston Commons, pass the Make Way for Ducklings statues

L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolate

220 Clarendon St, Boston, MA 02116, USA

Max Brenner’s

745 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116, USA

Gourmet Boutique

10 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02116

Adventure Wednesdays Boston Chocolate Adventure map
Click here for the custom map of ALL the chocolate places in Boston area (current as of 5/2019) This map includes spots in Boston that we didn’t go to, as well as locations outside the city proper! I hope to explore other areas soon. Will you?

Adventurers like me

Best adventures happen when everyone let’s go of expectations and sets the intention for FUN! My sons encouraged me to create this tour, so I learned so much more about the history of chocolate, and Boston, than I had anticipated. They learned more about this city, as well as discovering new things about chocolate – like what a great excuse to explore areas you otherwise would have never have otherwise.
NOTE: For those of you not close to Boston, take Amtrak! There’s a stop that is just steps away from an excellent adventure!

POST NOTE: I am not being paid or otherwise supported by any of the places mentioned. These are all my own honest opinions. Please let me know you thoughts on this free tour – and if you will be trying any part of it!

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  1. Wendy

    This was great Stacey! Great info and so fun that you got to do it with the boys!

    • Stacey Newman Weldon

      the kids are inspirational! They make me think there might be an adventure gene! lol

  2. Lisa Davis

    Looks like a great way to spend a sunny, or any other day, in Boston. Can’t wait to try it!

    • Stacey Newman Weldon

      I like the aspect of making it your own. I admit, though, going with someone (like a paid guide) can be a good jumping off point (like my first chocolate tour in NYC…the guide knew a ton of stuff about architecture and history that added depth!)

  3. Jenn

    I would like to recommend a new place that was just opened. I have never seen such beautiful and delicious chocolates before.
    you should check them out,

    • Stacey Newman Weldon

      They do look beautiful! Do they have a place to buy them in person in Boston proper? Or in Needham? (which is about an hour on public transit away from other Boston stores). Do you have any other updates? The pandemic closed the Goodnow Farms place at the Boston Commons and I heard that Max Brenner closed his Boston restaurant…

      • Jenn

        Hi Stacey,
        I believe her only store is in Needham but you can have them delivered to you. They are truly not only looks pretty.. they taste amazing. I’m sure she’ll send you some free samples to encourage you to write a post about her chocolates.. 😉


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