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Minute Tapioca factory
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Tapioca is a processed form of manioc (also known as cassava), a plant found in Brazil, Malaysia, and Indonesia. To obtain tapioca, manioc is roasted, dried, and sifted into different grades ranging from "flake" (finest) to "pearl" (largest). Tapioca produces a starchy pudding when cooked, though the process takes time and patience. In 1883 Susan Stavers, a Boston housewife, began taking cheap manioc roots and grinding them in her coffee grinder. That produced small, translucent nodules that made a smooth pudding. She sold them in paper bags from door to door. They came to the attention of a local publisher, John Whitman. Whitman's other interests included the Whitman Grocery Company. He purchased the rights to her process and began selling it as Tapioca Superlative. In 1894, he renamed the product to Minute Tapioca and built a factory in Orange, Massachusetts, to manufacture it. Tapioca became one of a number of lighter desserts viewed as fashionable in the early 1900s. The plant operated in Orange until 1967.
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