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German Chocolate Cake … Is Not German

Chocolate and coconut lovers rejoice whenever somebody surprises them with a German chocolate cake, especially if this is done on June 11: National German Chocolate Cake Day. This tasty treat just seems to have a perfect blend of chocolate, buttermilk, pecans and coconut that is not too sweet and not too bitter.

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The type of chocolate that has been used when making this cake has played a significant role in how its name came about. However, it has nothing to do with the country of Germany.

Samuel German, a baker who, despite his name, was not from Germany but was actually from England, would settle in present-day Boston in the 1800s and work for the Baker Chocolate Company, the country’s first chocolate producer.

But first, Dr. James Baker, who partly founded that company, developed Baker’s Chocolate, which was named after him, not after the skill set. Then, in 1852, German developed a sweeter version of the chocolate, which the company named, “Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate.”

However, the famous cake that would be named after him would not come to fruition or make him famous until long after he died in 1888. Although recipes did appear in the following years and decades that were similar to the German chocolate cake that we know and love today, it did not become famous or start to become known by that name until a “German’s Chocolate Cake” recipe appeared in the Dallas Morning News in 1957.

General Foods, the owner of Baker’s Chocolate at that time, responded to the increase in sales of Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate by distributing this recipe to several other newspapers throughout the country. At some point while this was occurring, its name was changed to “German Chocolate Cake,” which is what resulted in so many today believing that it originated in Germany.

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