Chocolate Factory Tour of Fry’s Chocolate
When we found this chocolate factory tour from 1884, we realized we had to share it with our customers. Published in 1884, it is a tour of Fry’s Chocolate, one of the major chocolate factories in the United Kingdom. Fry’s Chocolate is no longer in business, but it was very influential in the early development of fine vintage chocolate. The pictures and text are from the original document (with gentle editing by us.) We hope you enjoy this chocolate factory tour!
Anyone who passes along Wine Street, Bristol, will, if he be keen-scented, become fully aware that he is close vicinity of a chocolate factory. The aromatic berry scatters its perfume far and wide. The manufacture itself is a growth of a century and a half. The first patent, still in the possession of its present manufacturers, is dated 1730, and the old building where the chocolate was then made, though solid and handsome, stands in vivid contrast to the huge pile of buildings which pour forth the chocolate and cocoa at the rate of several tons per day. Any one entering the factory cannot but be impressed with the ceaseless whirl of machinery, the general sense of movement, and the constant activity that pervade the buildings. Here is a huge wheel, many feet in diameter, driving a series of grindstones which are pulverizing the nut; there is a winnowing machine, which separates the husks; close by is an elevator, which lifts the nibs to their next position; and so on throughout the whole building — machinery doing the work of hand labor, rendering food cheaper, and yet finding employment for the larger number of workers.
In the factory itself, you thread your way through walls of solid chocolate which looks like red granite blocks prepared for a new building; immediately contiguous are others of similar shape and size, not unlike blocks of Portland Stone. The last are composed of the solidified fat yielded of the cocoa berry in the process of forming extract of cocoa. Flanked on either side and piled up to the ceiling are the mountains of the bags containing the cocoa as imported into this country. On the top floor of the building the process of manufacture begins; where the nuts are roasted in huge cylindrical roasters, constantly revolving over a hot fire, and each cylinder containing about a hundredweight of cocoa beans.
When cooked, the berries are cast into what is technically known as a hopper — that is, a wooden partition about six feet square, in the center of which is a hole in the slate flooring, and through which the roasted cocoa beans are constantly descending by a conduit to the floor below. Subsequently the husks are separated from the bean itself by a very ingenious through simple arrangement. The cocoa beans are made to pass between two very small rollers, which are about a quarter of an inch apart, and on the surface of each roller are small knife like projections, which break the husk but do not crush the nibs; they then pass into the winnowing machine, by the elevators, into the mills, where the beans are crushed into chocolate by, revolving drum, stone mills, or steel roller, until at length it issues, in continuous streams, a rich, fragrant, and deliciously brown liquid.
There is at this point of the manufacture two distinct processes, absolutely different in their aim: the one, the production of cocoa extract; the other, the production of Perl and Caracas Cocoa. Cocoa extract is produced by extracting a large proportion of fat from the cocoa. The mode in which this is effected is not a little singular. The cocoa is put into strong canvas bags, and from its general appearance which thus manipulated is visibly suggestive of dynamite. These bags are composed of extremely strong double-sewn canvas. They are placed into a hollow iron cylinder, the bottom of which moves up by hydraulic power of 1,200 lbs to the square inch, with the result that the fat drops into troughs, and when cool forms those Portland Stone blocks to which we have previously referred. Whilst the fat is cooling in the troughs, the steel rollers are whirling round, crushing the ordinary nibs and incorporating the sugar, whilst perfectly manipulating the whole, and shredding into fine delicate flakes that world-famed Caracas Cocoa. One is tempted to pause by the mill and taste once again the luxurious compound of superb cocoa, sugar, and vanilla.
We English have scarcely reached the point of appreciating how charming a luncheon is afforded by a stick of chocolate and a hunch of fine white bread. In other parts of the works are small lakes of sugar being converted into snow-flake, and chocolate being molded into drops and bonbons. At other parts there are steam-planes, steam-saws, and other machinery making wood boxes and finishing them with a rapidity that is truly marvelous.
In one shop there are tin-workers who stamp out the lid, put on the end, and present you with a perfectly tight tin canister in something less than a minute. Everywhere there is pressure, movement, and order. The nimble fingers that affix the labels to the packets, equally with those that fill the packets themselves, weary the eyes by the rapidity of their movement. Huge cases travel to and fro, as they pass to one or another of the great packing departments, whilst trollies, laden to the utmost, carry boxes and packages to be sorted out and sent to every part of England and every quarter of the globe. A century and a half of constant and ever increasing effort lives in the factory, and those who today listen to their of carefully planned machinery cannot fail to remember those early times when chocolate was the luxury of the wealthy instead of being, as it is to-day, the everyday necessity of millions of our people.