Chocolatier of a Gilded Age

Long before Godiva, there was Maillard’s.

While doing research for Duke of a Gilded Age (set in 1890), I discovered several shops on the ground floor of the 5th Avenue Hotel, one of which was a famous confectionary known as Maillard’s.

Maillard’s Candy Store, 116 West 25th St. (1901)
Maillard’s, Broadway at 24th St. (5th Ave. Hotel) (1902)

Mr. Maillard came to the States from France in 1848, opening his first store at 401 Broadway, NYC. A Maillard’s shop was a tenant at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, eventually evolving from a confectionary into a ladies’ restaurant. In 1908, after the Fifth Avenue Hotel was demolished, a much larger store and ladies’ luncheon restaurant opened at the southwest corner of Fifth Avenue and 35th Street.  The decor was Louis XVI, the ceiling was graced with lovely paintings, and the settings were completely French. Mr. Maillard, whose award-winning chocolates were exhibited around the world, furnished the inaugural banquet of President Lincoln, thereby making himself a household name. The shop was renowned for chocolates, bon-bons, cocoa, and ice cream.  Although Maillard’s has long been out of business, their advertisement and trade cards are still collectible items today.

I wish these photographs were scratch-and-sniff, because I’ll bet the fragrance inside the shop was heavenly. Have a chocolate day.

~ S.G. Rogers


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