The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, is one of the country’s most popular candy makers. The company was founded and popularized in San Francisco. But did you know how James Lick helped start Ghirardelli?
James Lick, an entrepreneur, arrived in San Francisco in 1848 with 600 pounds of chocolate to sell. When all his chocolate sold out quickly, he convinced a Peruvian confectioner friend to come to San Francisco and start his own Chocolate company. Domingo Ghirardelli is the name of that confectioner.
John Lick, the Main Protagonist
In January 1848, Lick arrived in San Francisco, California, with his tools, work bench, $30,000 in gold, and 600 pounds or 300 kg of chocolate. The chocolate quickly sold out, and Lick persuaded his Peruvian neighbor, confectioner Domingo Ghirardelli, to relocate to San Francisco and establish the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company.
Lick began purchasing real estate in the small village of San Francisco soon after his arrival. The discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill near Sacramento just a few days after Lick’s arrival in the future state sparked the California gold rush. It fueled a housing boom in San Francisco, which grew from a few thousand residents in 1848 to over 20,000 by 1850.
Lick caught gold fever and went out to mine the metal, but after a week, he realized his fortune would be made by owning land rather than digging in it. Lick bought land in San Francisco and began buying farmland in and around San Jose, where he planted orchards and built the state’s largest flour mill to feed the city’s growing population. (Source: The Culture Trip)
The Italian-Born Chocolatier, Domingo Ghirardelli
Domenico Domingo Ghirardelli has been in business for over 160 years, making it America’s oldest continuously operating chocolate maker. Ghirardelli founded the company in San Francisco in 1852. He was an Italian chocolatier who began his career as an apprentice to a candy maker when he was a child. He moved to Uruguay at 20 to work in the coffee and chocolate industries before moving to Peru to open his store.
It was when he heard about the gold rush in 1849 that he decided to relocate to California, where he opened a new store in Stockton. A few months later, he opened his first shop in San Francisco, but both locations burned down within a few days in 1851. Domenico went on to open an unsuccessful coffee shop in San Francisco before finally opening Ghirardelli Chocolate Co. In 1852, the company was formally incorporated.
Since its inception, the company has taken pride in embracing innovation and being at the forefront of new techniques and technologies. The shop experimented with various products, including a line of alcoholic beverages until 1871 and various goods such as coffee, spices, and even mustard. In 1867, a Ghirardelli employee discovered a flavor-enhancing technique that would eventually become widely used throughout the chocolate industry, and innovation became a company-wide tradition.
Ghirardelli was one of the first American companies to use advertising strategies to gain popularity, as well as one of the first to include cacao content on labels to assist discerning consumers in selecting the perfect flavor. (Source: The Culture Trip)
Image from Ghirardelhi