Chocolate dipping at the Ernest Hillier Factory (c.1926)

Chocolate dipping at the Ernest Hillier Factory (c.1926)
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This promotional documentary enters Australian chocolatier Ernest Hillier’s factory in Sydney. It shows men and women working in the chocolate mixing, dipping, packing and mailing rooms. It also includes a brief segment in the ice-cream department. Intertitles are used to identify various parts of the chocolate-making and packaging process. The film details the delicate work and attention to detail required when producing handmade chocolates and sweets for Australian consumers.

In this clip, women seated at tables carefully dip each individual chocolate and place them neatly on trays to dry. Their speed indicates they are familiar with this repetitive task. Men stand over the mixing machines which house boiling hot liquid chocolate. A man forms a row of chocolate dollops on a table. Women then top the chocolate with ‘buttons’ to create the finished sweet. In another area of the room, a man stands over a large vat of boiling chocolate and breaks up blocks to add to the mixture.

Summary by Poppy De Souza

Ernest Hillier was Australia’s first chocolate manufacturer and began making premium quality chocolates in 1914. Prior to this time, chocolates were imported from overseas. This documentary takes the viewer inside the factory’s walls and details the delicate work and attention to detail required when producing handmade chocolates and sweets for Australian consumers.

In this documentary it is the women who carry out the detailed work of dipping individual chocolates, sorting and packaging them while the men work the machinery and oversee the hot vats of melted chocolate. This division of labour down gender lines was accepted as the norm at the time and can also be seen in the 1932 film A Day in a Biscuit Factory.

The descriptive intertitles throughout the documentary identify the various parts of the chocolate factory as well as promote the idea that Ernest Hillier’s chocolates are handcrafted, beautifully presented and of the highest quality chocolate. Aside from the opening title card, there are no production details on the film and it ends abruptly. Its origins are unknown, although it is most likely that it was made as a promotional tool for Ernest Hillier, either for internal or external use.

Notes by Poppy De Souza