Operations / Supplier News

Pepperidge Farm celebrates 60 years of baking in Downers Grove, Ill.

June 14, 2013
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Current and former employees joined together to celebrate the 60th anniversary for Pepperidge Farm’s bakery in Downers Grove, Ill. “Pepperidge Farm opened the plant in 1953, as part of its plans to develop its business in the Midwest, as historically its sales were concentrated in the Northeast,” said plant manager Rob Harrison. “That certainly worked. The Midwest and Great Lakes region is now one of the top-performing regions, and the team is proud to contribute to this growth.”

The Downers Grove factory bakes more than 36,100 tons of bread, rolls, English muffins and stuffing each year and employs more than 300 people from the local area. Harrison says that through the decades the site had continued to grow and evolve to keep pace with changing consumer tastes, technological developments in baking and growing demand for Pepperidge Farm’s portfolio of top-quality bakery products in the Midwest.

While the Downers Grove site was initially selected for its proximity to Chicago and distribution routes, Pepperidge Farm founder and pioneering entrepreneur, Margaret Rudkin, had a different, personal preference for the town. In a speech given to celebrate the site’s 10th anniversary, she said, “I must confess that Downers Grove was my favorite location for the most unbusinesslike reason imaginable. The name sounded right to me. Doesn’t Downers Grove just sound like a place where good food would come from?”

The production facility has certainly lived up to Rudkin’s expectations. During the past 60 years, it has baked around 2.4 billion units of bread, rolls, English muffins and stuffing; used 1.2 billion lb. of flour; and developed more than 300 new products, including Pepperidge Farm’s famous Swirl bread. Pepperidge Farm employs 400 people in Illinois.

Based in Norwalk, Conn., the company is a leading provider of premium-quality fresh bakery products, cookies, crackers, and frozen foods. Downers Grove was the first commercial bakery to have a stone-grinding mill incorporated on-site.

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