The Chocolate Museum, a not-for-profit organization operated by a Board of Directors, opened in June, 1999 and has thrilled thousands of visitors, young and old alike since that time. Presenting the story of brothers James and Gilbert Ganong, whose candy-making company built in the late 1800s continues today, the Museum offers hands-on exhibits, interactive computer displays that explain how chocolate and candies are currently made, collections of historic chocolate boxes and antique candy-making equipment. Chocolate treats are a staple all the time!
The Chocolate Museum provides a home for a very important part of our community’s heritage as well as a point of interest for local citizens and tourists. The very existence of The Chocolate Museum is a testament to a small town’s ability to recognize, appreciate, and capitalize on its heritage and continued uniqueness. The Museum, together with St. Stephen’s Chocolate Festival which began in 1985, has focused attention on our community’s valuable and interesting history, helping to ensure that the Town of St. Stephen was officially registered in 2000 as “Canada’s Chocolate Town”.
- Chocolate hand dipping demonstration on video!
- Bilingual exhibits and presentations!
- Located in what was the original Ganong candy factory building next door to the Ganong Chocolatier, the only place to purchase Ganong’s hand dipped chocolates!
- Friendly, knowledgeable tour guides!
- Inexpensive, and we have lots of Chocolate treats!
- Located in the heart of Downtown St. Stephen, within very short walking distance of drugstores, restaurants, banks, post-office, a variety of retailers, and — less than 3 blocks from the United States border!
- US $ fair exchange rate offered!
- Wheel chair accessible, air-conditioned, washrooms on site!
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Ganong – The Reason St. Stephen is “Canada’s Chocolate Town”
It all began with brothers James and Gilbert Ganong who opened a small retail and grocery business in 1873. At first, buying and selling candy was just a small part of their business. The brothers soon realized they had to specialize in certain products to gain an edge on their competitors. Selling fresh oysters was one of the things they tried, as well as making and marketing their own brand of soap.
But it was when they began making their own candy that the foundation was set for what is now Canada’s oldest family owned candy-maker. To that they added a distinguishing hallmark that has lasted more than a century: Quality – above all else.
Over the years, Ganong has been the first to do many things, which have made candy and chocolate history including:
- Introducing a heart-shaped box to hold chocolates – 1932 – originally introduced at Christmas! – now the symbol of Valentine’s Day.
- Using cellophane packaging imported from France – 1920.
- Developing and introducing the first Canadian lollipop – 1895.
- Inventing and introducing the first chocolate nut bar in North America
- The first 5 cent chocolate bar – 1910.
- Introducing pink, cinnamon flavored candies with bittersweet chocolate in the centre – Chicken Bones – in 1885.
- Using real fruit, in puree form, to make fruit snacks – 1988
- Using the Acadian heroine Evangeline as their symbol, or logo, for 75 years (retired in 1978).
Each and every one of the company’s four presidents (amazingly, that’s all there’s been since 1873!) has been a family member. Gilbert Ganong; Arthur Ganong, known as “Mr. A.D.”; Whidden Ganong; and currently, David Ganong have all played key roles in the company’s growth and success in the face of fires, stiff and often unfair competition, high prices for supplies, and sometimes exorbitant taxes on sugar. In registering the business more than a century ago, Gilbert Ganong described it as “Commission Merchant, Etc.” He would say long afterward, “It was the Etc. that saved us.” To this day, the “Etc.” has come to mean the finest candy and boxed chocolates!
A Short History of Chocolate
Chocolate! A substance first discovered by Europeans when the explorer Hernando Cortez reached Mexico in 1519 and found that the civilization of the emperor, Montezuma and the Aztec peoples, treated this amazing substance with reverence. At that time, chocolate (called chocolatl) was used as a refreshing and potent drink. It wasn’t until about the mid-1850’s, and many experiments later primarily in Britain and Holland, that it came to be the chocolate we know today. Some interesting facts about chocolate include:
- The cocoa tree grows 20° either side of the equator, cocoa pods contain 20 to 30 beans each, and about 400 beans are required to make a pound of chocolate.
- Brazil and the Ivory Coast are leaders in the cocoa bean belt, accounting for nearly half of
the world’s cocoa.
- In the early 1500’s, cocoa beans were used as currency – about 100 beans would buy a slave.
- In the 1700’s people in the colonies (later the U.S.) drank chocolate as a medicine.
- Pure chocolate is virtually free of cholesterol and salt.
- Chocolate manufacturers currently use 40% of the world’s almonds and 20% of the world’s peanuts.
- While the United States leads the world in cocoa bean importation and chocolate production, Switzerland continues as the leader in per capita chocolate consumption.
Evidence from scientific studies is mounting that some of the inherent qualities of chocolate are good for our health, thereby supporting our centuries old fascination with chocolate! Today, Chocolate is ubiquitous – a favourite in many cultures – bringing smiles to the faces of our visitors – creating chocoholics, and spawning many sayings such as:
- Chocolate is the Answer… who cares what the question is!
- Milk Chocolate… for all it’s worth!
- When all else fails… Fudge it!
- S.O.S. – Need chocolate!!
- I’d stop eating chocolate, but I’m no quitter!
- Put “eat chocolate” at the top of your list of things to do today.
That way at least you will get one thing done!
We hope that this short history of The Chocolate Museum, of Chocolate, and of Ganong Bros. Ltd., and the impact they have had on this region of Atlantic Canada – for over 130 years – has sweetened your day!
The Chocolate Museum, A Canadian First, opened in June of 1999. It is a must for all Chocoholics! Devoted to the wonder of Chocolate, it displays the history of Ganong Bros. Limited, candy makers in St. Stephen since 1873. The Museum is an indoor, unique, interactive experience.
What better way to sweeten a child’s enthusiasm for history, chemistry, and economics than with chocolate! Adults delight in childhood memories and traditions that were influenced by confectionery. With our chocolate cube benches, chocolate treats, chocolate décor, and our chocolate themed shoppe, you feel surrounded by chocolate!
The Museum received the Attractions Canada Award in 2002 for Best Indoor Site and in 2001 for Best New Attraction and Best Indoor Site for New Brunswick. In addition, we received the New Brunswick Savvy Traveller Award for our Day Adventure Program in 2001. And in just over three years, visitors topped 16,000!
Hand Dipping Chocolates
The special art of hand dipping is demonstrated in a video presentation.
Experience St. Stephen’s 130 year association with chocolate and candy making through various displays, hands-on exhibits, and demonstrations. Our award winning, interactive, computer program of current candy making processes makes you feel like you are actually at the factory. A humorous, educational video explains how our antique candy making machinery was used.
Try your hand at our Pack the Chocolate Box or Guess the Chocolate Center games and see how quickly and accurately you can do it!
Ganongs made their own chocolate boxes from 1906 until the early 1970’s in a division of the company called “The Home Paper Box Company”. Did you know that Ganongs were the first candy company to introduce the heart-shaped box North America in 1932 – now the symbol of Valentine’s Day or that they were the first to use cellophane packaging imported from France in 1920? See many examples of boxes, spanning two world wars, that help explain the impact chocolate has had on our society not only in St. Stephen, and New Brunswick but also in Canada and North America.
Take our Day Adventure, The Heritage Chocolate Walk, which is offered from mid-June to mid-October. It includes a tour of the Museum plus an Outdoor walk past homes and buildings which relate to the history of the Town of St. Stephen and Ganongs. Everyone receives sample chocolates at the Museum, but Day Adventure participants also get treats from the Ganong Chocolatier!
Todd Mansion – Union Street
Lonicera Hall – Union Street
Admission Rates (Taxes Included)
Heritage Chocolate Walk
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