Colonial Chocolate Making in Modern Day Boston

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“Taste the sweeter side of the Revolution!” That’s the motto of Captain Jackson’s Historic Chocolate Shop, located next to the Old North Church. The shop is named for Captain Newark Jackson, who owned a chocolate shop in the North End back in the 1740s. Today, visitors to the shop can enjoy demonstrations on how chocolate was produced and consumed back in colonial times, as well as try a sample and take some home.

Employees who have been specially trained to make chocolate the same way that it was made for George Washington and his friends run the shop. One such employee is Kevin Kordis, who has been working there since the spring. Kordis is a lover of history, a lover of acting, and of course a lover of chocolate, which makes the shop a perfect fit for him.

Kordis lives in Somerville, and works at Boston Harbor Cruises in addition to the chocolate shop. A friend who worked at the Old North Church recommended the job at Captain Jackson’s to him. In addition to making chocolate, Kordis is also trained to run the printing press at the Printing Offices of Edes and Gill, which is located in the same building.

The shop’s main visitors are tourists, especially during the summer months. July is the busiest month of the year, although the shop maintains a fairly steady flow of visitors throughout the year. Currently many cruise ships are docking in Boston and bringing in business, and other countries vacation at different times throughout the year. Additionally, Kordis says that there are always some locals who discover the shop and become repeat customers.

Since starting at the shop, Kordis has had nothing but good things to say about his time there. His favorite part of the whole experience is using the metate, the heated stone that is used to melt and grind the ingredients together. He appreciates that he is repeating the same motions that have been used not just since colonial times, but in fact were used by the Aztecs since they first discovered chocolate. Using the metate is a soothing, repetitive motion that is easy to enjoy, and sprinkling the ingredients onto the stone makes Kordis feel like an alchemist. The end result of this process is a warm, dark chocolate drink that this reporter can confirm is delicious.

For a delicious taste of the American Revolution and a fascinating look at an historical process, make sure to stop in Captain Jackson’s Historic Chocolate Shop and spend some time with Kevin Kordis.

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