This Was Then: Darling’s

For years, the sweetest thing about Circuit Avenue.

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Darling's -Courtesy Chris Baer

Darling’s, Circuit Avenue, about 1929: In addition to salt water taffy and “Cottage City Pop Corn,” Darling’s also sold potato chips, peanuts, ”log cabin rolls,” fudge, mints, Vermont caramels, and maple candies. Its motto — “For Twenty Years the Best” — was in prominent use long after the twentieth anniversary of its circa 1900 opening.

Owner Carroll J. Darling was a summertime Kennebec Avenue resident who hailed from the tiny village of Albany in northern Vermont, where his father ran Darling’s Hotel. Each winter the Darlings would return to Vermont, where Carroll was the biggest stockholder in the Cary Maple Sugar Co., at one time the largest wholesale maple sugar company in North America. Cary Maple Sugar (today part of the Maple Grove Farms brand) was then used principally to flavor plug tobacco and cigarettes.

Darling’s was a successful mainstay of Circuit Avenue for most of the twentieth century. In 1912, Darling exhibited his state-of-the-art motor-driven popcorn and candy machinery at the Boston Electrical Show, and in 1924 he purchased the nearby Eagle Theater at the bottom of Circuit Avenue. Upon his death in 1936, ownership of Darling’s was passed to his nephew, Harris Carr.

A poster, visible at the far left of this photo, advertises Mal Hallett’s orchestra at the Tivoli Ballroom. Hallett, a jazz violinist from Boston, was at the height of his career and known for such popular hits as 1926’s “She’s a Cornfed Indiana Girl (But She’s Mama to Me).”

Chris Baer teaches photography and graphic design at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. He’s been collecting vintage photographs for many years.