Editor's Note / Columns

Celebrate 100 Years with Us

April 23, 2012
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Agnetha Faltskog once said that, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, without a sense of ironic futility…” Otto von Bismarck has said, “The main thing is to make history, not to write it.” We certainly can’t pretend to know the past of baking or snack food manufacturing. But with April marking the 100th anniversary of Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery, we cannot help but revisit some of the amazing past in these fascinating markets of ours.

We approached our own anniversary in terms of some of the events that took place over the last 100 years in the snack food and baking worlds; the nature of the publishing industry is such that we cannot track our own history too far back. For many years, our title was Snack Food Manufacturing Packaging Marketing and before that we went by Biscuit & Cracker Baker.

We traced the magazine as far back as the middle of the 1960s. But with brand and company acquisitions and magazine title changes, etc., there was little chance we could uncover much of our own history in time to meet our deadline.

So we decided to take a good hard look at the past in terms of snack foods and baking and uncovered quite a lot of incredible information. The two markets have a very rich past, and parallel so many events of the country’s history that one can only determine that they were major threads in the fabric of the United States.

Did you know that in 1912, the same year we were established as a periodical, that the Oreo cookie was developed? National Biscuit Co. (Nabsico) made its first sale of the chocolaty disk-shaped cookies to a grocer in Hoboken named S. C. Thuesen. The sale took place before the biggest news of the year, the tragic reports about the Titanic sinking.

A few years later, the American Baking Association (ABA) was incorporated on Nov. 3, 1916, in Chicago. It’s hard to believe, but the first automatic doughnut making machine wasn’t introduced until 1921. Sliced bread hasn’t been around forever, either. That didn’t come along until 1928 when the Chillicothe Baking Co. produced its first bread slices using machinery developed by Otto Rohwedder.

Have you ever heard that before Margaret Rudkin established Pepperidge Farm, she never baked bread in her life? “My first loaf should have been sent to the Smithsonian Institution as a sample of Stone Age bread,” she has been quoted as saying, “for it was hard as a rock and about one inch high.” But she started over and soon achieved an disreputable loaf of bread, which would head to grocery stores and a tiny company was born. By 1939, Pepperidge Farm had produced 500,000 loaves of bread and the rest, as they say, is history.

What would life be without Frito’s Corn Chips, Jolly Time Popcorn, Lay’s and Ruffles Potato Chips, Planters Peanuts or the Great Orville Redenbacher? And how did their inventions end up becoming some of the major players in the snack food industry—now, a $100-billion business worldwide? Who would have thought that we might never have enjoyed a potato chip if it weren’t for Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, who happened to like French fries cut so thin (by chef George Crum), that they ended up as razor-sliced chips? 

According to the Snack Food Association’s wonderful book, 50 Years: A Foundation for the Future, potato chips, peanuts, popped corn and pretzels were “the four p’s” in the fledgling snack food industry, but potato chips were the catalyst that brought them all together. And we can’t forget  Julius Sturgis, who established America’s first commercial pretzel bakery, or any one of the thousands of entrepreneurs in snacks who had or has a fascinating story to tell about their experiences. We can’t imagine the snack food business without them. While we can’t say we have uncovered even a fraction of the huge amount of historical information available on the history of baking and snack foods, we hope that you enjoy the stories in our pages this month, as we look back on the past to reflect on the future.

For their generous help with the retrospective articles in our centennial issue, we wish to thank the Snack Food Association, the American Institute of Baking, the American Society of Baking, Baking Equipment Manufacturers Association and Allieds (BEMA), the American Bakers Association, the various bakeries and snack food companies who supplied information to us including Boudin Bakery, Hostess Brands, Sara Lee Corp., ConAgra Foods, Turano Baking Co., Gonnella Baking Co., Krispy Kreme Doughnut Co., Bundy Baking Solutions and Russel T. Bundy and the Bundy Baking Museum, www.joyofbaking.com, www.foodtimeline.org, www.dakotayeast.com, whatscookingamerica.net, Popular Mechanics Magazine, www.ideafinder.com, The Hartman Group and Public Consultants USA and www.scribd.com.

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