The value of the cocao bean didn’t stop as a simple drink, though. It was highly revered to the point that it was more valuable than gold.
Chocolate didn’t start off as the sweet (or bitter) delicacy we know it as today – it began as a beverage created from the bean of a cacao tree, harvested and assembled by the Maya, Toltec, and Aztec peoples of Mesoamerica.
While it’s disputed when exactly chocolate arrived in Europe, it’s widely accepted that Spanish explorers returned it to Spain after their conquests in Mesoamerica.
Soon chocolate was spreading throughout Europe and the way chocolate was used in cuisine was transformed as the cocao bean was introduced to wider parts of the world.
Just over 40 years later chocolate had made its way north to Boston and the first chocolate house opened there in 1682
It’s no surprise that chocolate would make its way to the early American colonies as European nations began to settle along the coastlines of the New World. The first recording of chocolate in the New World was in 1641 when Spanish conquistadors brought the treat to Florida.
Chocolate was a popular addition to rations for the militia during the American Revolution. Sure, it may not have been tasty milk chocolate, but it proved to be a welcome addition!
The year is 1868 and big things are happening all around. Fans of alternative public transportation are introduced to the bicycle we know today, scientists and birthday balloons everywhere are thrilled by the discovery of helium, and parade floats are introduced for the very first time at the Mardi Gras festival in New Orleans!
In 1889 Chester comes to the USA. He settles in Buffalo, New York, where he first learns to make chocolate. With his new found passion for chocolate-making, Chester starts his first business, “Sweets from Around the World”.
Chester moved from Buffalo, and in 1892 Asher’s Chocolates was officially founded in Center City, Philadelphia. Chester ran his small candy store near Independence Hall and, after it grew in size and popularity, he decided to move the business to Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1899. The company was originally marketed as “Asher’s Candy”. In these early years, Chester sold more than just chocolate and candies, he also specialized in canned and baked goods!
In 1908 Chester served on the Committee for the Celebration of Founders Day in Germantown – a celebration honoring the 225th Anniversary of the founding of the first German settlement in America. Chester didn’t just come to Germantown to make confections, he also came to be make an impact in his community.
Asher’s Candy continues to operate through two World Wars and the Great Depression. During the Great Depression Chester’s youngest son, John Asher Sr. takes over the company. John takes his two sons, John Jr. (Jack) and Robert (Bob) under his wing to teach them how to run a confectionary.
Chocolate Treats Made to Withstand the Heat- Fairy Bells and Mint Delights are tried and fail, but that wouldn’t be the last time Asher’s experimented! Needless to say the business was due for big changes.
Jack & Bob make a decision that changes the course of the company – they decided to focus completely on chocolate confections, and they start producing sugar-free chocolates as well the following decade.
Even with his new role as head of production at Asher’s, Jack still made time to serve his community in several fulfilling ways. He was a board member at the First Presbyterian Church in Germantown as well as a board member at Historic Cliveden where he found great joy in participating in the Battle of Germantown re-enactment for 40 years.
Jack’s involvement didn’t stop at the church or the battlefield – Jack also served as a volunteer firefighter for 35 years with the Wissahickon and Flourtown Fire Companies. In 1988 Jack received the Small Business Person of the Year award from the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
Under Jack & Bob, Asher’s ran an aggressive sales and production program and experienced major growth. By 1990 it was time for Asher’s to expand their operations out of the Germantown location that their grandfather, Chester A. Asher, had opened earlier that century.
Asher’s acquires Goss Candy Co. in Lewistown, Pennsylvania. Expanding the business allows Asher’s to grow into a larger company and implement technological advances that’ll expedite production and enhance the quality of the product.
As Asher’s celebrates 100 years, a monumental achievement, Jack Asher takes over the production at the new Lewistown facility, renamed “Asher’s Chocolates / Lewistown”. Over the next decade and a half sales at this location will grow 22-fold.
A grand ceremony officially opens a new headquarters in Souderton, Pennsylvania. This new building provided a state-of-the-art 125,000 sq. ft. facility for primary production, warehousing and shipping, as well as business offices and even a retail outlet!
The family legacy continues as Bob and Jack hand control of the company over to their sons. Bob’s son, Jeff, is named Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Jack’s sons, David and John III, are promoted to President and CFO, and assume the roles of Co-Chairmen of the Board.
Asher’s Chocolates has always created kosher products, but in 2003 we received our official OU-D Kosher certification.
Jack Asher is inducted into the Candy Hall of Fame. Other notable inductees include: Milton Hershey (The Hershey Co.), William August Goetze (Goetze’s Candy Co, and Frank C. Mars (Mars Inc.)
Asher’s Chocolates officially updates name to Asher’s Chocolate Co.
The following year Jeff led the celebration of a huge milestone, Asher’s Chocolate’s 125th anniversary.
Jack Asher passes away, leaving behind an incredible legacy. Jack invested over 50 years of employment and management in Asher’s Chocolates.
Jeff’s daughter Sophie Asher joins the family business, representing the Asher’s brand at various community events, TV commercials, and even on QVC.
The Philadelphia Inquirer announces that Asher’s Chocolate Co. has won the 2019 Family-Owned Business Award in the Midsize Business category! This award is given to businesses that continue to not only grow as a company, but proudly represent Philadelphia as a community.
Early in 2022 Asher’s Chocolate Co. becomes SQF (Safe Quality Food) certified – a rigorous process that is recognized worldwide for its credible food safety and quality standards.
As the chocolate business continues to evolve, so does Asher’s. Through our devotion to our family values, unmatched product quality, and exceptional customer service, Asher’s Chocolates is ready for more sweet success.
Asher’s Chocolate Co. is looking forward to continuing to bring the same quality and fine ingredients to our chocolates and classic confections for generations to come.