The Chocolate Factory in Red Hook, NY was built by William H. Baker of Baker Chocolate. William H. Baker started business in New York City as the W.H. Baker Co in 1888.
However, he labeled his chocolate “Baker’s” to cash in on the established popularity of the Baker Chocolate Company and he also mimicked the product’s wrapper. As you might guess, a subsequent legal order put a stop to the use of both the name and label.
Regardless of legal entanglements, the company did well and ultimately out grew their New York City plant. In 1902 they moved the operation to the quiet Hudson Valley Hamlet of Red Hook.
The Chocolate Factory manufactured 20,000 lbs of chocolate a day. Later on (around 1924), refrigeration permitted them to ship products much further and the need for a large number of local plants was diminished. Accordingly the company closed a number of their local plants including the Red Hook factory.
In 1914 the factory in Red Hook was sold to the Walker Candy Company, which operated it until 1932. The Chocolate Factory later became a cold storage warehouse for locally-grown fruit. At the end of WW2, the plant was converted for frozen food storage such as concentrates and the then very popular TV Dinners.
In the 1980’s the plant outlived its usefulness and was abandoned. However, this story has a fairy tale ending. In 1995 the property was purchased by Dr. George Verrilli and made into office and retail space. To people residing in the area, it is still known as the Chocolate Factory.
That’s not a bad ending is it? This unique bit of history survived, is being maintained, and is a useful addition to the community. That’s exactly how it should unfold.