Baking Hall of Fame
April 07, 2009
by Editorial Staff
Harvest the past, fortify the future
On March 2, the American Society of Baking proudly announced four individuals who have been inducted into the Baking Hall of Fame. Each of the recipients have made a significant contribution to the advancement of the baking industry. Dora Schwebel, founder of Schwebel Baking Company; Louis Kuchuris, founder of East Balt Commissary in Chicago; Dale S. Lecrone, founder of LeMatic, Inc.; and Dr. Louys Rumsey, founder of the Baking Science and Management Degree Program at Florida State University, now located at Kansas State University.
As you read the following profiles of the 2009 inductees you will be inspired by their vision, their perseverance and dedication. These individuals have altered the baking industry and have left their mark on our baking heritage. Countless lives have been touched by these entrepreneurs. They have provided career opportunities, served as role models and mentors and are true ambassadors to the baking industry.
The American Society of Baking acknowledges the leadership and dedication of Sosland Publishing for its assistance in supporting our efforts through the publication of this journal. We also recognize AIB International, Inc. for hosting the Baking Hall of Fame located in Manhattan, Kansas.
The Baking Hall of Fame was established in 2006 as a vision of A.S.B. Chairman Gary Brodsky. Since that time the Baking Hall of Fame has inducted a total of 30 members who have influenced the baking industry in a variety of ways. The Baking Hall of Fame is a resource to inspire future generations. We welcome you to share in the continued celebration of the Baking Hall of Fame.
Inductees shared vision, faith in baking industry
The 2009 class in the American Society of Baking’s Hall of Fame includes two bakers, an educator and an equipment manufacturer. All four inductees possessed different talents and yet all four also shared a common trait — vision, an ability to see the need to take chances, to expand and innovate, all based upon a faith in their respective companies and the baking industry in general.
For the late Dora Schwebel, the hard part may have come before her company’s great expansion. Her husband, Joseph, died in 1928. A year later the stock market crashed. Advisers and suppliers urged her to sell the family bakery business. She persevered.
Twenty-two years later, she saw the need to expand. A new facility was built in 1951 in Youngstown, Ohio, for $1 million.
The 1950s were a time of activity for all four inductees. The late Dr. Louys A. Rumsey worked to establish the Baking Science and Management Degree Program at Florida State University in 1951.
"He realized the need to educate future baking executives not only in the science of baking, but the need to educate young men and women in many other areas," said a letter nominating Dr. Rumsey for the Hall of Fame. "These areas included engineering, sales management, marketing, human resources, identifying customer and market needs, expansion, cost management and many other challenges facing an executive in the baking industry."
In 1955, the late Louis Kuchuris cemented a supply deal with the late Ray Kroc through a handshake. Mary Ann, a Chicago bakery owned by Mr. Kuchuris, began supplying buns to McDonald’s owned by Mr. Kroc.
In 1969, Mr. Kuchuris built East Balt Commissary, an automatic bun bakery that exclusively serviced 40 McDonald’s in the Chicago area. Today, East Balt Commissary supplies about 9,000 McDonald’s worldwide.
Dale S. Lecrone began working in the baking industry in the 1950s. He founded LeMatic Inc. and has supplied slicing, handling and packaging equipment since 1973. A new generation of products has focused on robotic and vision system integration.
Each year the A.S.B. honors individuals who have been leaders in the baking industry and have demonstrated industry innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. The four inductees in this year’s class push the total number to 30 since the Hall of Fame opened in 2006 at AIB International in Manhattan, Kas.
A handshake helped Louis Kuchuris on his way to the hall. In 1955, he and Ray Kroc shook on a deal in which Mary Ann, a bakery in the Chicago area owned by Mr. Kuchuris, would supply buns to Chicago-area McDonald’s owned by Mr. Kroc.
Both men were destined for success on a global scale. East Balt Commissary, founded by Mr. Kuchuris in 1969, continues to supply buns to McDonald’s and operates in 14 countries. Such accomplishments earned the late Mr. Kuchuris his place in the 2009 Baking Hall of Fame class.
"I’ve known bakers by the dozen, and I will tell you — when you talk about the best, when you’re looking for the hall of famer — one name pops out — Louis Kuchuris," said Fred Turner, honorary chairman of McDonald’s Corp. "Louie was larger than life. He stepped straight out of Damon Runyon and Horatio Alger.
"He was a true character — a survivor in a tough, competitive business, a friend, a partner who made the best buns in the business."
Louis Kuchuris was born to Greek immigrant parents on July 16, 1913. His father died when Louis was 6, said Frank Kuchuris, the son of Louis and now chairman and chief executive officer of East Balt Commissary.
From an early age, Louis Kuchuris was no stranger to hard work. He became involved in the bakery business at 12 and delivered Greek bread to homes by horse and wagon, Mr. Turner said. He became a driver for Atlas Baking Co. and later bought the company.
In 1939, Mr. Kuchuris bought Mary Ann, a bakery on the northwest side of Chicago that produced a line of bread, rolls, buns and pastries. Mr. Kuchuris paid $8,000 for the bakery, which was bankrupt at the time, Mr. Turner said.
"Louie told all the creditors they would be paid off, and in just a couple of years, he was doing 50 times the business," Mr. Turner said.
Mary Ann serviced restaurants, snack shops, drive-ins, hotels, schools and caterers. Mr. Kroc, meanwhile, was starting his McDonald’s empire in Des Plaines, Ill.
"Ray placed an ad in the paper for franchises, saying he would soon be selling thousands and thousands of hamburgers," Mr. Turner said. "Louie translated that into thousands and thousands of buns."
No written contracts exist to show how the Mary Ann bakery began supplying McDonald’s. A handshake cemented the deal, which was how Mr. Kroc and Mr. Kuchuris wanted it.
"Dad was one of the old-timers," Frank Kuchuris said. "He believed in people."
The Mary Ann buns met with satisfaction from Mr. Kroc and his McDonald’s customers.
"As Ray’s ‘bun guy,’ I had the treat of working extensively with Louie," said Mr. Turner, who began working for McDonald’s in 1956. "The buns were made with special flour — less water, fewer chemicals, less air. We took ‘very good’ and made it ‘the best’ and then kept on improving."
Mr. Turner said McDonald’s once faced a financial crisis in 1959. Mr. Kuchuris was one of five suppliers to loan the restaurant chain $25,000.
"Four of them took debentures in return, but Louie didn’t want any of that," Mr. Turner said. "He wrote us a check on the spot."
Expansion plans followed for both Mr. Kroc and Mr. Kuchuris. In 1969, Mr. Kuchuris built East Balt Commissary, an automatic bun bakery that exclusively serviced 40 McDonald’s in the Chicago area.
"Dad had faith in Ray," Frank Kuchuris said of the need to expand.
East Balt Commissary was well established when Mr. Kuchuris died on his 70th birthday, July 16, 1983. Today, East Balt owns 20 bakeries in 14 different countries and supplies about 9,000 McDonald’s worldwide.
"The Kuchuris family continues to be one of the crown jewels in McDonald’s supply chain crown," Mr. Turner said.
After all the success, the allegiance of Mr. Kuchuris to his Greek immigrant roots may be seen every year in June in Chicago during the Greek Independence Day Parade. Mr. Kuchuris played the instrumental role of chairman when the parade was created in 1967.
His legacy to family and friends was evident during the March 2 Hall of Fame ceremony in Chicago. The Kuchuris contingent numbered more than 30.
His principles about running a business remain at East Balt, too.
"The biggest thing is trust and honesty, whether it be with customers, employees’ families — the totality of it, trust and openness and honesty," Frank Kuchuris said.
With a career spanning longer than 50 years and an extensive line of patents of import to the baking industry to his credit, it’s easy to see why Dale S. Lecrone made the cut as one of four inductees into this year’s American Society of Baking Hall of Fame class. Mr. Lecrone’s impact on the baking industry has been widespread, ranging from his company’s role in the advent of bagel slicing to his influence as a past leader of numerous industry associations.
Mr. Lecrone got his start in the industry in the 1950s working in a machine shop used by Capital Bakers in York, Pa. While there, he worked on the development of the first hinge slicing machine for hamburger buns. He later worked for Alto Corp., developing several bakery equipment patents for the company.
In the early 1960s, Mr. Lecrone left Alto to work for Baker Perkins in Saginaw, Mich. He spent six years as a sales engineer for the mid-Atlantic states for Baker Perkins, which at the time was the largest manufacturer of bakery equipment in the United States.
By 1966, Mr. Lecrone had moved on to Jackson, Mich., where he took a job with the Dawn Equipment Co. as manager and developer of new equipment. It was during the next several years, though, that Mr. Lecrone would develop the breakthroughs that ultimately would cement his place in baking history.
"In the early 1970s, some of the patents were running out on his earlier designed slicers," according to a Hall of Fame nominating letter. "Dale had some ideas on how to build a better one. He left Dawn Foods and built his first LeMatic slicing head in his basement garage."
Founded in 1973, LeMatic, Inc. initially produced bakery slicing and bagging equipment and in short order was supplying slicing, handling and packaging equipment to customers around the world.
The company’s customer list is impressive, including such names as McDonald’s Corp. and Lenders bagels. In the case of the latter, the relationship dates back to the late 1970s, when Mr. Lecrone was approached by Marvin Lender at a bakery show with a request to slice bagels.
"I told him we’d never sliced bagels before, and the next morning seven cases of unsliced bagels were delivered to us," Mr. Lecrone told The Jackson Citizen Patriot in an interview several years ago.
Mr. Lecrone said LeMatic was able to modify a bun slicer to handle bagels and from that day on has been the provider of bagel slicing equipment for Lenders.
Whereas previous bagel slicers had left a bump that left bagels to often stick in the toaster, LeMatic was able to develop a slicer that left bagels joined in the center.
The company eventually became a family affair, with Mr. Lecrone joined in the business by his wife, Margaret, who passed away in August 2008, and a son, Dale J. (D.J.) Lecrone. D.J. Lecrone is currently president of LeMatic. A second son, Alan, works at Stanton & Associates, Inc., owner of more than 60 Wendy’s restaurants in Michigan.
Today, LeMatic, Inc. continues to provide innovate slicing, packaging and automation solutions to the worldwide baking industry, including its new generation of products in robotics and vision systems. The company’s AutoOp (Automatic Operator) cells, integrates robots and vision into new and existing bakery production lines to improve efficiency and product quality in the production process. The product is ideal for high-speed picking, packing and palletizing and is customizable based on the application.
Mr. Lecrone also is well known for his innovative side. He holds 14 patents for bakery machinery, including a knife mounting unit for a roll slicing machine, separating rollers for a slicing mechanism of a roll slicing machine, an adjustable roll slicing system, and a band-type roll slicing machine.
He was president of BEMA, an international, non-profit trade association representing leading bakery and food equipment manufacturers and suppliers, whose combined efforts in research and development have led to the continual improvement of the baking and food industries, from 1991 to 1993. In 2003, he received that organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
"Little did I know that some years back this would be such a great honor to be part of an industry that is so vital and important to all of us, and I certainly appreciate this honor," Mr. Lecrone said in accepting his award.
Louys A. Rumsey
In his nomination for the Baking Hall of Fame, Louys A. Rumsey was described as the individual perhaps most responsible for the establishment of the Baking Science program at Kansas State University. Interestingly, the longtime professor of baking never held a position at Kansas State.
Dr. Rumsey’s career in baking spanned 35 years, but it was during the final decade, the period until 1959, that he had a truly lasting impact on the industry. It was during these years that, as a result of Dr. Rumsey’s vision, a baking science program was established and flourished at Florida State University in Tallahassee.
A native of Stryker, Ohio, Dr. Rumsey received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry from Denison University, Granville, Ohio. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1922 in cereal technology, milling and baking. While studying for this degree, Dr. Rumsey developed the standard method for determining diastatic enzyme activity and sugar values in wheat, flour and dough.
Also during this period, Dr. Rumsey had a fellowship at the American Institute of Baking, which was part of the University of Minnesota at the time. Later, he was named director of research at A.I.B. and was involved in the relocation of the Institute to Chicago.
While his career was rooted in science, the business of baking was a focus. He took time off from A.I.B. to work with the Wheat Council to promote bread consumption. He organized and directed a national campaign to "Make Toast Your Breakfast Food."
Seven years after joining A.I.B., Dr. Rumsey took the position of national secretary at the American Bakers Association.
The longest stretch in Dr. Rumsey’s career was at W.E. Long Co. where he served in several capacities until 1948. He was editor of the cooperative’s in-house publication, organized conventions and general manager’s conferences and devoted himself to sales promotion.
After leaving W.E. Long, Dr. Rumsey established an industrial advertising agency involved with sales promotion for baking and other parts of the food industry.
He then joined Florida State University as head of the Baking Science and Management department, an assignment that tapped into his background both in baking technology and the business of baking. His vision for the department was the direct outgrowth of his experience in the industry.
"He realized the need to educate future baking executives not only in the science of baking, but the need to educate young men and women in many other areas," according to the letter nominating Dr. Rumsey to the Hall of Fame. "These areas included engineering, sales management, marketing, human resources, identifying customer and market needs, expansion, cost management and many other challenges facing an executive in the baking industry."
Reflecting the business focus of the curriculum, the program was incorporated into the F.S.U. School of Business.
The program produced over 100 graduates (bachelor’s, master’s and doctorates) while it continued until 1965.
While the school was located in Florida, it has hardly a regional program. At one time as many as 30 states were represented in the Baking Science and Management Program with students coming from as far away as California. In fact, Floridians generally represented only one or two students in the program.
"Graduates went on to set their mark in the baking industry and allied fields," the letter said. "Four graduates are past presidents of the American Society of Baking."
Dr. Rumsey was responsible for organizing the curriculum and managing the department until he retired in June 1959. He died less than a year later at the age of 71.
In 1963, a concurrent program was established at Kansas State University, and the baking program was discontinued at F.S.U. in 1965. The two-year overlap helped minimize the loss of graduate students for the baking industry. The shift was made because of K.S.U.’s central location and the school’s milling and feed science program.
"Had it not been for the vision of Dr. L.A. Rumsey, the Baking Science program would not be in existence at Kansas State University today," the nominating letter said. "The transition was smooth and seamless, and the program continues in earnest at Kansas State."
A scholarship at K.S.U. was established in 1986 in Dr. Rumsey’s memory by the Southern Bakers Association. The group was credited as central in subsidizing the F.S.U. program during Dr. Rumsey’s tenure and supporting his efforts. This support included subsidizing Dr. Rumsey’s salary, funding laboratory equipment and helping exempt students (almost all of whom were not from Florida) from out-of-state tuition. Other major supporters included Continental Baking Co., American Bakeries and Campbell-Taggart.
It is thanks to the hard work and determination of Dora Schwebel that Schwebel Baking Co. survived the Great Depression and continued to thrive afterward.
Dora and her husband, Joseph, were co-founders of the company, but he died suddenly a year before the stock market crash in 1929 leaving his wife behind to run the business and raise six children during the Great Depression.
Despite the odds, Mrs. Schwebel managed to keep the company going through the difficult 1930s and raise the children all at the same time.
"No one expected Dora Schwebel to hold the company together under such circumstances," said Alyson Winick, Mrs. Schwebel’s granddaughter. "But this strong woman with clear, penetrating eyes and a determined jaw — she had strength."
The couple started the company in 1906 when
Joseph and Dora Schwebel began baking out of their home in Campbell, Ohio. After the business was up and running they started out baking about 40 loaves a day and selling door-to-door. However, previously in 1905 Joseph and a business partner had gone broke in their efforts to start the business, so the Schwebels borrowed $300 from Dora’s brother and started again. After that initial experience, Mrs. Schwebel reportedly told her husband not to have any other business partners.
Ms. Winick said her grandmother delivered bread in wicker laundry baskets by bicycle to other immigrants in the area. She said quality, personal service and same-day freshness were seen as values identified early on in company history.
In 1914, the company began delivering bread to "mom and pop" stores by horse and buggy, and by 1923 with an investment of $25,000 they opened a small bakery that made 1,000 loaves of bread a day and had six delivery trucks. Then in 1928 tragedy struck when Joseph died suddenly at the age of 46.
Mrs. Schwebel’s advisers, suppliers and closest confidants recommended and even urged her to sell the business. They told her it would be nearly impossible for a woman operating alone in the bakery business under such circumstances.
"She wouldn’t hear of it," Ms. Winick said. "She pushed on. Clearly they had underestimated Dora Schwebel. This was no ordinary woman."
Ms. Winick said her grandmother contacted flour mills to persuade them to offer credit, and as a personal guarantee said she would even clean mill floors on her hands and knees.
"Fortunately that guarantee was never needed," Ms. Winick said.
Mrs. Schwebel was able to negotiate a number of agreements that helped keep the business going. Thanks to such efforts, the company kept going strong throughout the depression. Mrs. Schwebel’s work helped double sales and provide food for those in need during this period. In 1932 Happy the Clown was introduced as a trademark on bread packages to help brighten people’s spirits despite such difficult times. In 1936 the company moved into a new $100,000 bakery, and the facilities were expanded in 1938 and 1941.
Demand for the company’s products built quite steadily in the 1940s after the war ended and the baby boom began.
In 1951, a new facility was built in Youngstown, Ohio, for $1 million, and the facility was known as "The Million-Dollar Bakery." With the opening of the new facility, the company also introduced Schwebel’s Toasti-Taste Bread in a golden-yellow wrapper.
Preceding these events, in the late 1940s Mrs. Schwebel called together the family and said she wanted to expand because the neighboring mills and their soot made it impossible to keep the bakery clean, and the company needed to expand to get away from the dirty mills. Of the 11 family members in the room that day, every one but Mrs. Schwebel were against the expansion. But her one vote ended up carrying all the weight, and expansion followed.
"The new bakery is for the future," Mrs. Schwebel was quoted as saying at the time in 1951. "It is for my family, to provide for their security and the security of the boys out in the plant. For me, I’m an old woman."
Mrs. Schwebel even once had the honor of hosting Eleanor Roosevelt when she came to visit the company.
"(Dora was) a remarkable woman who never saw herself as remarkable, neither proud nor ashamed of her humble beginnings," Ms. Winick said. "This honor is something she would not have expected."
In 1964 she died at the age of 76, and the company has continued to expand ever since, growing the company into the premier wholesale baking company in the region.
Baking Hall of Fame: A growing legacy
With the induction of four this past March, the American Society of Baking’s Hall of Fame membership has blossomed to 30. The Hall of Fame was established in 2006 and resides at AIB International in Manhattan, Kas. Each year inductees are honored in the spring at the A.S.B.’s BakingTech in Chicago. Their contributions spanned centuries.
Dean and Betty Arnold — When Mr. Arnold was dismissed from his job at a baking company because of an allergy to flour, he and his wife decided there was a need for "a better loaf of bread." With only $600 in severance pay, the couple in January 1940 began baking, slicing and hand delivering bread. Soon thereafter, with the help of a $1,500 bank loan, the Arnolds established their first commercial bakery. In 1959, they purchased a 24,000-square-foot plant in Florida and in 1964 built one of the world’s largest baking plants, in Greenwich, Conn. Mr. Arnold helped pioneer the freezing process in bread.
Ninnie Baird — When her husband William was no longer able to work at his Fort Worth, Texas, bakery that supplied local restaurants, Mrs. Baird began baking bread, pies and cakes for her neighbors. When her husband died a few years later, Mrs. Baird and her sons continued selling Mrs Baird’s bread, laying the foundation for what became one of the most recognized names in the baking industry.
Thomas E. Belshaw — President of Belshaw Bros. from 1956 to 1991, Mr. Belshaw was also an inventor whose name appeared on numerous patents, including such innovations as apparatuses for moving food objects through a frying tank and apparatuses for filling edible products. By 2007, the company was making some machines that were able to drop 10 dozen donuts an hour and others capable of dropping 2,000 dozen donuts an hour.
Russell T. Bundy — After 25 years as a national sales manager for Ecko/Glaco, a prominent maker of baking pans and supplier of coating services, Mr. Bundy tried his hand at entrepreneurial ventures. Several setbacks in the glazing business led Mr. Bundy toward a successful venture selling used baking pans. He is recognized for opening the first facility to make quality pan cleaning and coating services readily available to Midwestern bakeries. He has built a vast collection of baking memorabilia that he displays in the Bundy Museum of the Baking Arts.
Catherine T. Clark — Brownberry Ovens was established in 1946 when Mrs. Clark and her husband Russell took out a $7,000 mortgage on the Milwaukee home to buy an oven, a mixer and a delivery truck. The company was named Brownberry because the bread, baked from whole grain flour, came out of the oven "brown as berry."
William Entenmann — While it was his son who began to give the products fame and a daughter-in-law and grandsons who built Entenmann’s, Inc. into one of the nation’s largest sweet goods baking companies, it was William Entenmann who established the business in New York in 1898. He helped build the company’s reputation by delivering bread, rolls and cakes door-to-door in a horse-drawn buggy.
Charles Fleischmann — Mr. Fleischmann created compressed yeast for the commercial market more than 140 years ago, an invention that revolutionized the baking industry. Compressed yeast offered a lighter, tender bread crumb for home and commercial baking.
William Howard Flowers and Joseph Hampton Flowers — With the vision to see what the market needed and the drive to make it happen, the Flowers brothers opened Flowers Baking Co. in Thomasville, Ga., in 1919. From the time in the 1920s when the company advertised its bread, 9c per loaf, as "sanitary as sunshine" Flowers has been transformed from a strong regional baker into a national baked foods company.
William J. Hoover — As president of the American Institute of Baking for 18 years, Dr. Hoover helped oversee the organization’s move from Chicago to Manhattan, Kas. With this action, he helped bring synergy in Manhattan among the AIB, Kansas State University, and the Grain Marketing and Production Research
Center of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He is credited with revitalizing the AIB programs, making them more relevant to the baking industry.
Ron, Miles and Steve Jones — The three brothers helped transform Dawn Food Products, Inc. into a $1.2 billion company that provides more than 4,000 products to more than 40,000 customers in more than 40 countries. Dawn gained fame as the first U.S. company to manufacture ready-to-use mixes for the baking industry. Under the Jones family, which acquired the business in 1955, the company’s product line expanded dramatically. In addition to mixes, the company offers bases, icings, glazes, fillings, frozen dough, par-baked and fully baked products.
William Edgar Long — Mr. Long was founder of the W.E. Long Co. in 1900, a central organization to provide services initially to 15 leading independent bakers. A timeless advocate for bakers to improve the quality of their products, Mr. Long was an early promoter of wrapping bread for sanitary and marketing purposes. He inaugurated a clean bread campaign to entice bakers to adopt sanitation procedures in their plants. Additionally, he pioneered the idea of sliced bread and brought about the practice of branding bread as a means to build repeat sales.
Charles Lubin — Driven by a desire to sell his popular cheesecake, pound cake and coffee cake beyond the reaches of the local Chicago market, Mr. Lubin in 1952 began exploring formulations that would allow the products to be frozen while still preserving quality and taste. His innovations allowed Mr. Lubin to transform his Kitchens of Sara Lee products into a highly successful national brand. Mr. Lubin also is credited with designing foil-baking pans that would allow baking, freezing and distributing all in the same pan.
Victor E. Marx — The first secretary-treasurer and administrator after the American Society of Bakery Engineers was established in 1924, Mr. Marx led the organization for 37 years. During his tenure, membership grew from 103 to 3,312. Now known as the American Society of Baking, 50-year members are recognized with what has been named the Victor E. Marx Award.
Charles Matthaei — Long before whole grains became a cause celebre in the nutritionist community, Mr. Matthaei was a proponent. Through innovative marketing, Roman Meal bread grew dramatically in the 20th century, moving beyond simply a "health food" niche. Today the licensed brand encompasses dozens of stock-keeping units.
Charles Meyer — A decision after World War II to adopt brown ‘n serve technology helped Mr. Meyer transform Meyer’s Bakery from a small regional company into a nationally recognized organization with four baking plants serving 42 states and baking more than 279 branded products.
Ralph Leroy Nafziger — Mr. Nafziger is credited with much of the innovation and growth that turned Interstate Bakeries Corp. into the nation’s largest wholesale baker. As president of I.B.C. from 1930 to 1957 he acquired numerous struggling baking companies from Los Angeles to Buffalo, revamping them and expanding their market areas. He was responsible for developing many regional powerhouse branded bread lines, including Weber’s, Butternut, Merita, Millbrook, Sweetheart, Eddy’s and Cotton’s Holsum.
John Paterakis — By helping shift H&S Bakery from a retail to a wholesale focus in the 1950s Mr. Paterakis helped catapult the company to the top ranks of the wholesale baking industry. A "handshake" contract in 1965 to bake buns for McDonald’s has fueled H&S Bakery’s bun business.
C.J. Patterson — When he began his career as a cereal chemist at the Ismert-Hincke Milling Co., the Campbell Baking Co., the laboratory was considered an "uncertain adjunct of flour milling." At Ismert-Hincke and later at the C.J. Patterson Corp., Mr. Patterson proved both his own and cereal chemistry’s value to the baking industry. His early innovations included shifting the criteria on which wheat mixes were bought from dry gluten tests to protein content.
Ernst J. Pyler — In 1952, Mr. Pyler wrote "Baking Science and Technology," a book that has become the primary teaching text for baking schools around the world. He updated the book with new editions in 1973 and 1988. He also is credited with "raising the bar" during his time as editor of Bakers Digest magazine.
Otto Rohwedder — Formerly the owner of jewelry stores in St. Joseph, Mo., Mr. Rohwedder, an inventor, is known as the father of sliced bread. He successfully installed his bread slicer at the Chillicothe (Mo.) Baking Co. While bakers were initially skeptical, the invention was widely adopted and improved upon during the 1920s.
Margaret Rudkin — When one of her sons developed an allergy to bread baked by a commercial baking company, Mrs. Rudkin began baking a bread recipe developed by her grandmother. When her family and doctor encouraged Mrs. Rudkin to sell the bread outside the home, Pepperidge Farm bread was established. At a time when commercial bread typically cost 10c a loaf, Mrs. Rudkin demanded — and received — 25c. During her tenure, the business introduced a range of products, including rolls, stuffing, European-style cookies and frozen pastries.
Lorenzo and Roberto Servitje — In Mexico, where Grupo Bimbo S.A.B. de C.V. was established, the word Bimbo is nearly synonymous with bread. The Servitje brothers are responsible for taking a loaf bread niche product baked at a family operation in Mexico in the mid-1940s and growing it into the largest baking company in North America, and one of the largest in the world. Bimbo’s initial entry in the United States was in 1984, and the company has since grown into the nation’s largest baking business.
Morton I. Sosland — Editor-in-chief of Milling & Baking News, Mr. Sosland is responsible for expanding Sosland Publishing Co.’s baking coverage, while helping ensure the publication offers the industry with relevant, timely news and information. His weekly editorial column has been a vehicle for providing guidance to leaders of the baking industry. In the early 1970s, he actively advised the industry on how to deal with escalating wheat prices.
Harold H. Stewart — While the company he established grew to become a manufacturer of a wide range of baking equipment, Mr. Stewart built the Stewart Systems on the back of a single product — the Monoflex Bread Cooler. The system received hot loaves of bread directly from the depanner and cooled them as they traveled along a continuous conveyor arranged in tiered loops. The method is still the predominant means for cooling bread in large wholesale bakeries.
Ray Thelen — With a devotion to baking science, Mr. Thelen was instrumental in establishing the mix division at The Pillsbury Co., and aided in the development of dry mixes such as Royal Viking Mix. He also contributed to the development of three patents on laminated foods and co-authored many books under the Pillsbury Press. He was associated with many other successful industry businesses, including Mrs. Smith’s Bakery, Standard Bakeries and Mother Murphy’s Laboratories.
Samuel B. Thomas — An 1874 immigrant from England, Mr. Thomas worked at a New York bakery until 1880 when he saved enough money to open his own. While he baked white and rye bread, it was his distinctively coarse-grained English muffins that became a sensation. In the intervening generations S.B. Thomas English muffins grew to a regional and national brand.
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