The Story of the Chocolate Girl


La Belle Chocolatière


The famous picture of "La Belle Chocolatière," known all over the world as the trademark that distinguishes the Cocoa and Chocolate preparations made by Walter Baker & Co. Ltd., was the masterpiece of Jean-Etienne Liotard, a noted Swiss painter who was born in 1702 and died in 1790.

It is one of the chief attractions in the Dresden Gallery, being better known and more sought after than any other work of art in that collection. A romance is connected with the charming Viennese girl who served as the model, which is well worth telling.

One of the leading journals of Vienna has thrown some light on the Baltauf, or Baldauf, family to which the subject of Liotard's painting belonged. Anna, or Annerl, as friends and relatives called her, was the daughter of Melchior Baltauf, a knight, who was living in Vienna in 1760 when Liotard was making portraits of some members of the Austrian Court.

It is not clear whether Anna was earning her living as a chocolate bearer at that time or whether she posed as a society belle in that becoming costume, but, be that as it may, her beauty won the love of a prince of the Empire, whose name, Dietrichstein, is known now only because he married the charming girl who a great artist immortalized.

The marriage caused much talk in Austrian society then, and many different stories have been told about it. The prejudices of caste have always been influential in Vienna, and a daughter of a knight, even if well-to-do, was not considered a suitable match for a court member.

It is said that on the wedding day, Anna invited the chocolate bearers with whom she had worked or played and, in "sportive joy at her elevation," offered her hand to them, saying, "Behold! now that I am a princess, you may kiss my hand." She was probably about twenty years of age when the portrait was painted in 1760 and lived until 1825.


Baker's Caracas Sweet Chocolate featuring the Chocolate Girl


It is pleasant to think of the graceful figure of the Chocolate Girl as it appears on Walter Baker & Co.'s packages, becoming associated with cocoa and chocolate preparations as a positive guarantee of purity and fine quality.

The term "Cocoa," a corruption of "Cacao," is almost universally used in English-speaking countries to designate the seeds of the small tropical tree known to botanists as Theobroma Cacao, from which a great variety of preparations under the name of cocoa and chocolate for eating and drinking are made.

The name "Chocolate" is nearly the same in most European languages and is taken from the Mexican word of the drink, "Chocolatl" or "Cacahuatl." The Spaniards found chocolate in everyday use among the Mexicans during the invasion under Cortez in 1519, and it was introduced into Spain immediately after. The Mexicans not only used chocolate as a staple article of food, but they also used the cacao tree seeds as a medium of exchange.


Chocolate Girl - 57 Highest Awards


No better evidence could be offered of the significant advance that has been made in recent years in the knowledge of dietetics than the remarkable increase in the consumption of cocoa and chocolate in this country. The amount retained for home consumption in 1860 was only 1,181,054 pounds— about 3-5 of an ounce for each inhabitant. The amount included for home consumption for 1914 was approximately 164,006,000 pounds — almost 26 1/2 ounces for each inhabitant.

Although there was a marked increase in the consumption of tea and coffee during the same period, the ratio of increase fell far below that of cocoa. The coming American will be less of a tea and coffee drinker and more of a cocoa and chocolate drinker. This is the natural result of a better knowledge of the laws of health and the food value of a beverage that nourishes the body while stimulating the brain.

Baron von Liebig, one of the best-known writers on dietetics, says: "It is a perfect food, as wholesome as delicious, a beneficent restorer of exhausted power; but its quality must be good, and it must be carefully prepared. It is highly nourishing, easily digested, and fitted to repair wasted strength, preserve health, and prolong life.

It agrees with dry temperaments and convalescents, mothers who nurse their children, those whose occupations oblige them to undergo severe mental strains, public speakers, and all those who give to work a portion of the time needed for sleep. It soothes both stomach and brain; for this reason, as well as for others, it is the best friend of those engaged in literary pursuits."

The three associated beverages, cocoa, tea, and coffee, are known to the French as aromatic drinks. Each of these has its characteristic aroma. The fragrance and flavor are so marked that no artificial product can imitate them. However, numerous attempts have been made regarding all three. Hence, the detection of adulteration is not a complicated matter.

Designing persons, aware of the extreme difficulty of imitating these substances, have undertaken to employ lower grades and, by manipulation, copy, as far as may be, the higher sorts. Every one knows how readily tea and coffee, for that matter, will take up odors and flavors from substances placed near them.

This is abundantly exemplified in the country grocery or general store, where the teas and coffees share the pervasive fragrance of cheese and kerosene. But perhaps it needs to be more widely understood that some of these teas and coffees had been artificially flavored or corrected before they reached their destination in this country.


The Chocolate Girl - Choice Recipes


Cocoa lends itself very readily to such preliminary treatment. In a first-class article, the beans should be of the highest excellence; they should be carefully grown on the plantation and prepared with great skill, arriving in the factory in good condition.

In the factory, they should receive the mechanical treatment requisite to develop their high and attractive natural flavor and fragrance. They should be carefully shelled after roasting and finely ground without concealed additions. This is the process used by all honest manufacturers of cocoa products.

R. Whymper, in his recent work, "Cocoa and Chocolate, Their Chemistry and Manufacture," says: "It is our experience that the chocolate of finest flavor is prepared by using the best quality beans, properly roasted, without any further treatment."

Now, as a matter of fact, in the preparation of many of the cocoa products on the market, a wholly different course has been pursued. Beans of poor quality are used because of their cheapness. In some instances, they are only imperfectly, if at all, shelled before grinding.

Chemical treatment is relied on to correct in part the odor and taste of such inferior goods, and artificial flavors, other than the time-honored natural vanilla and the like, are added freely.

The detection of such imposition is easy enough for the expert, but it is complicated for the novice; therefore, the public is mainly unable to discriminate between the good and the inferior, and it is compelled to depend almost entirely on the character and reputation of the manufacturer.

"A well-known medical expert has said: "The treatment of cocoa with potash is to be strongly condemned, as the slightly increased solubility obtained is more than counter-balanced by the injurious effects of the chemical upon the system, and those who value good health would be well advised to leave such cocoas alone."

In giving some hints concerning the proper preparation of cocoa, a distinguished London physician says: "Start with pure cocoa of undoubted quality and excellence of manufacture, which bears the name of a respectable firm. This point is important, for there are many cocoas on the market, which the addition of alkali, starch, malt, kola, hops, etc has doctored."

Baker's Breakfast Cocoa is pure and, being ground to an extraordinary degree of fineness is highly soluble. The Massachusetts State Board of Health analyst states in his recent valuable work on "Food Inspection and Analysis" that the treatment of cocoa with alkali to produce a more perfect emulsion is objectionable, even if not considered a form of adulteration.

Cocoa, thus treated, is generally darker in color than the pure article. The legitimate means, he says, for making it as soluble as possible is to pulverize it very fine so that particles remain in an even suspension and form a smooth paste.

That is the way the Baker Cocoa is treated. It has received the Grand Prize — the highest award ever given in this country, and, altogether, 57 highest in Europe and America.


"The Chocolate Girl," Chocolates and Cocoa Recipes, Walter Baker & Co. Ltd., 1916.


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