Monday, August 6, 2012

Birthday of Chocolatier Joseph Storrs Fry II

Joseph Storrs Fry
On this day in 1826, one of the many European chocolatiers to whom we owe a great debt for the innovations that helped make chocolate what is it today was born.  Joseph Storrs Fry II was either the grandson or son of chocolatier Joseph Storrs Fry -- I couldn't find the grandfather's birthday date (but I did find his photo to the right) so I'll talk about the entire Fry family today in relationship to chocolate, all right, Sisters and Brothers?  Some of the historical information is contradicted between various books and online resources I consulted, so I will include the variations for you all instead of making a firm decision since I did have the time to conduct a full  historical study.

The Fry family began in chocolate when Joseph Fry and John Vaughan bought Walter Churchman's existing chocolate company and renamed the new chocolate business as Fry, Vaughan, & Co.  After Joseph's death, his wife and sons continued the business under the name Ann Fry & Sons.

Cocoa bean grinding machine from: http://chestofbooks.com/food/ingredients/Cocoa/Chapter-XVI-The-House-That-Fry-Built.html
The senior Joseph took control of his parents business in 1795 and while there he made one amazing innovation that would change chocolate forever.  He used a Watts steam engine to help grind the cocoa beans and this was the first serious introduction of a factory method into the normally small scale, hands-on creation of chocolate at this time.  The machine could not only grind more thoroughly but it could output greater amounts of ground cocoa leaving human hands to focus on the other steps in chocolate creation. After Ann's death in 1803, Joseph Storrs Fry renamed the company Fry & Hunt after partnering with a doctor.

By 1822, Dr. Hunt retired so the three sons of Joseph Storrs Fry became his partners and they renamed the company once more, this time as J.S. Fry & Sons.   During this period, the Fry company became the largest commercial chocolate producer in Great Britain.  Upon his death in1835, his three sons took control but his name sake, Joseph Storrs Fry II was the main figure.

In 1847 the company created the first ever molded chocolate bar that could be consumed by the general public.  Remember chocolate was struggling to be available to the masses at this time and most of us today, Sisters and Brothers, would not have recognized the form, flavor, or textures of the chocolate back then as something worth drinking or eating.  However it wasn't until 1866 that they created the Fry Chocolate Cream to sell.   I am unsure if this is the how the bars first were sold but a few reliable historial sites suggest it may be.

Fry's were also the first company to create the chocolate Easter egg which is so very common now throughout the western world and loved whether you are Christian or not.  Indeed, we have a tradition in my house to buy "egg shaped chocolates" and share them with any guests who drop by on that holiday.  We can thank the Fry family for this innovation back in 1873.

By 1919, Fry's merged with Cadbury and as we know, Cadbury is now part of the Kraft megacorporation.

Various Online Source Consulted for this piece
1: Basic history for the Fry Chocolate company via Cadbury website
2: Fry & Sons article on wikipedia
3: Made in Bristol article on Fry Chocolate
4: Frenchay Village Museum website
5: Grace's Guide article on Fry's Chocolate

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