The American Society of Baking (A.S.B.) will induct five industry leaders into the Baking Hall of Fame during special ceremonies at BakingTech 2021, a virtual conference to be held Feb. 16-18, 2021. They and their affiliated organizations are:
- August and Albert Junge, Junge Baking Co.
- Tatsuo Oshikiri, Oshikiri Machinery Ltd.
- John Popp, Perfection Bakeries, Inc.
- Harry Toufayan, Toufayan Bakeries, Inc.
“For 2021, the Baking Hall of Fame committee selected leaders in regional baking, ethnic goods and specialty technology,” said Rowdy Brixey, chair of the A.S.B. Baking Hall of Fame Evaluation Committee and president of Brixey Engineering, Inc., Holt, Mo. “We had a satisfying number of high-quality nominations honoring individuals who contributed strongly to the baking industry. It is our honor, especially in these difficult times, to again recognize such efforts.”
Regional bakers, brothers August and Albert Junge, president and vice-president, respectively, of Junge Baking Co., Joplin, Mo., were also community stalwarts who helped transform a rough-and-tumble mining town into a substantial, family friendly, middle-American city. Taking over the business a few years after it was founded in 1900 by their father, the brothers built on their family legacy of baking and their own scientific training in bakery technology. At its height, the business encompassed four large wholesale bakeries employing a staff of 650 and serving a four-state market. The company pioneered in high-volume manufacture of sliced baked goods, motorized distribution and whole grain variety breads. It also introduced production of cookies, crackers and zwieback to the Midwest. They even turned a small lot next to their downtown Joplin bakery into one of the better-known tourist attractions in the Ozarks. Through their efforts as major employers, civic leaders and community benefactors, the brothers substantially enriched the lives and nutritional wellbeing of people throughout the region.
A leader in specialty bakery technology, Tatsuo Oshikiri, founder of Oshikiri Machinery Ltd., Fujisawa City, Japan, developed and built small horizontal mixers that could run on 100-v household electric current, all that was available in Occupied Japan right after World War II. This allowed the country’s bakers to more efficiently use the wheat flour contributed by the U.S. to stave off widespread hunger. A mechanical engineer by training, Mr. Oshikiri continued to innovate, receiving many patents for bakery technology. Today, his company manufactures ingredient handling, mixing, dough makeup, proofing, baking, slicing and bagging systems. He pioneered with microwave baking, too. In 1982, Mr. Oshikiri received the Yellow Ribbon Medal of Honor from the Royal Emperor of Japan. This prestigious award recognizes individuals who, through their diligence and perseverance in their professional activities, became public role models. Colleagues said his proudest accomplishment—a life-long dream based on the gratitude he felt to the U.S. for its food assistance to post-war Japan—was establishment of a U.S. subsidiary in 1986.
A through-and-through independent, John Popp, president and CEO, Perfection Bakeries, Inc. (dba Aunt Millie’s Bakeries), Fort Wayne, Ind., continues to guide the family-run baking company he inherited in 1980. Today, the business operates five large bakeries, rated among the largest and most automated in the U.S. It ranks as a substantial regional producer of fresh bakery goods and a national supplier of frozen items. A strong advocate for independent businesses, Mr. Popp worked with the Independent Bakers Association (I.B.A.) in 2001 to convince the U.S. Congress to extend a little-noticed Environmental Protection Agency order covering mixer bowl coolants. His action saved millions of dollars in potential fines and replacement costs for independent bakeries throughout the country. Education is another passion of his. Mr. Popp has taught Junior Achievement classes and served as a member of the local school district’s board as well as the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. At Aunt Millie’s Bakeries, he encourages continuing education for the bakery staff and offers R&D internships to Kansas State University students. Long active in I.B.A., Mr. Popp also participates in the W.E. Long Co., Quality Bakers of America and the American Bakers Association.
An innovator in flat bread production, Harry Toufayan, founder and chairman, Toufayan Bakeries, Inc. Ridgefield, N.J., was the first to significantly supply pita to American supermarkets starting in the 1960s. Mr. Toufayan had just arrived in the U.S. from Armenia via Egypt. He had learned how to bake from his father and opened a small storefront bakery. He was quick to see Americans’ growing taste for his “new” breads: pita, naan, lavosh and wraps. Working closely with bakery equipment suppliers, he fostered development of automated methods for flat bread production—methods that had never existed before. The result today are three highly automated bakeries that not only produce Toufayan brand goods but also co-pack for many “major names” in the baking industry. Those who know him best describe his philanthropic dedication to “the family of man.” Mr. Toufayan actively supports a youth center and other charities in his native Armenia. Now a naturalized American citizen, he also funded expansion of his local churches in New Jersey and Florida and continues to contribute substantially to MS activities in these communities.
“The individuals we elect to the Baking Hall of Fame have earned the respect of their customers, suppliers, communities and industry,” Mr. Brixey said. “They inspire our future by their examples.”
Since its launch in 2006, the Baking Hall of Fame will have enshrined 92 individuals as of 2021. They come from all walks of life in the baking industry—from bakeries, allied equipment and ingredient suppliers, schools, service organizations and publishers. Their accomplishments can be read at www.asbe.org. Click on “About Us” and then “The Baking Hall of Fame.” This website also provides forms and instructions for nominating industry leaders for future induction into the A.S.B. Baking Hall of Fame.