Comfortably Hungry
Comfortably Hungry
S2 Episode 6: Whatever Happened to Fry's?

S2 Episode 6: Whatever Happened to Fry's?

Fry's milk chocolate : sweeter than honey : 300 gold medals & diplomas awarded to the firm. Public Domain Mark. Source: Wellcome Collection.

In Episode 6 I am joined by chocolate historian, archivist and novelist Alex Hutchinson to discuss the rise and fall of the Bristol based Fry’s chocolate company.

In this episode I discover what made quakers such good business people and why chocolate in particular appealed to them (aside from its delicious taste, obviously). We chat about the innovations in chocolate processing and business opportunities that helped make Fry’s the leading British chocolate manufacturer in the nineteenth century before its decline in the early twentieth century. So what went wrong?

Fry's pure concentrated soluble cocoa : prepared by a special scientific process, securing extreme solubility, and developing the finest flavour of the cocoa / J.S. Fry & Sons. Public Domain Mark. Source: Wellcome Collection.

Useful Links

Alex the Archivist

Penny Thorpe Books:

You can follow Alex on Twitter/X and Instagram.

Records of J S Fry and Sons, chocolate manufacturers, of Bristol are kept at the Bristol Archives.

You can view an advert for Fry’s Churchman’s Chocolate here.

A written Virtual Tour of chocolate sites in Bristol is available on Internet Archive.

More information about the various Test Acts is available at

Don’t forget to check out my new podcast collaboration with Dr Neil Buttery and Dr Allie Pino the A is for Apple Podcast. You can follow this podcast on Instagram, Twitter/X and there is a newsletter on Substack too!

Fry's homoeopathic cocoa : manufactured by J.S. Fry & Sons, Bristol, and 252 City Road, London, chocolate and cocoa manufacturers by appointment to the Queen and Prince of Wales / Joseph Storrs Fry & Sons. Public Domain Mark. Source: Wellcome Collection.

Suggested Reading

Fry's Chocolate Dream: The Rise and Fall of a Chocolate Empire by John Bradley, 2013

Cadbury's Purple Reign: The Story Behind Chocolate's Best-Loved Brand by John Bradley, 2008

Chocolate Wars: From Cadbury to Kraft: 200 years of Sweet Success and Bitter Rivalry. by Deborah Cadbury, London: Harper Press, 2010

‘J.S. Fry & sons: Growth and Decline in the Chocolate Industry, 1753-1918’ by Stefanie Diaper in Studies in the Business History of Bristol edited Charles E. Harvey and Jon Press, Bristol: Bristol Academic Press, 1988, pp33-55

Dying for a Humbug, the Bradford Sweets Poisoning 1858’ by Ben Johnson on Historic UK

Sailor Rations in the 18th Century - Burgoo (YouTube)

The Chocolate Conscience by Gillian Wagner, Chatto & Windus, 1987

Comfortably Hungry
Comfortably Hungry
Welcome to the comfortably hungry podcast where yesterday’s dinner is tomorrow’s history. If you’re a peckish person who is curious about the history of food and drink, then you’re in the right place. I’m Sam Bilton a food historian, writer and cook and each season I will be joined by some hungry guests to discuss a variety topics centred around a specific theme. As a former supper club host I’m always intrigued to know what people like to eat. So to whet everyone’s appetites I have invited my guests to contribute a virtual dish with them inspired by today’s topic.