The 11 bottles embossed with the Burnett of Boston company name were very likely one of the many flavoring extracts produced by Joseph Burnett's 19th-century firm. The host of extracts the Burnett company promoted included lemon, vanilla, almond, rose, nutmeg, peach, celery, cinnamon, cloves, nectarine, ginger and orange. Period advertisements claimed Burnett's flavoring contained all the delicacy of the fruits from which they are prepared, and are less expensive" and "are entirely free from poisonous oils and acids."
Burnett's most popular extract may in fact have been his vanilla, which was the first product to be developed by his company in 1847. At the time, the prominent wife of a wealthy Boston manufacturer who had lived some years in France entered the druggist/chemist's Tremont Row store anxious to procure a vanilla flavor for her creams, sauces and desserts, such as she had been getting in Paris. A man ahead of his time, Burnett believed in supplying what his customers needed. In New York he bought a pound of the very best vanilla beans and soon busied himself in his laboratory, extracting the bean's rare, delicate flavor. Following careful experiments, when he was satisfied with its quality, Burnett made the first vanilla extract that was ever sold in this country. Its success prompted Burnett to produce others flavorings as well, and soon his products were sold not only in the United States but all over the world.