Almonds were brought to the United States with the early colonist but were only successful in California, where they thrived in the Central Valley’s Mediterranean climate of mild, wet winters and dry.
People may have eaten home-harvested almonds, but none of these nuts entered trade, either for domestic consumption or export. New England and the Mid-Atlantic states attempted to plant the first commercial orchards in the United States in 1840s. The US Patent Office assisted these efforts by giving free seeds to any American interested in the program.
In the early 1850s, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Monterey launched the first successful commercial venture.
Candied almonds (Jordan almond) and other confections that frequently contained almonds, such as English toffee and Turkish Delight, were sold in the United States in the nineteenth century, but it wasn’t until Milton Hershey decided to add almonds to his Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar in 1908 that almonds became an important food in America.
In 1853 almonds were displayed at a fair in San Francisco and by 1856 trees grown in California nurseries were available.
Many other candy makers later followed Hershey lead. These included the Bit-O-Honey bar (1924), the Heath Bar (1928) and Almond Joy, first marketed in 1948.
The Hershey Company released the Golden Almond chocolate bar in 1976 and the Symphony milk chocolate bar with almonds and toffee chips in 1989.
Today American almond production is centered in California’s Central Valley, which supplies more than 70 percent of all commercial almonds consumed in the world.
History of almond nut in United States