In the 1960s, a bright light turned on in Harry Toufayan’s mind as he waited in line at a supermarket deli counter near his family’s home in New Jersey. That’s when the young man in his early 20s realized that consumers might love the pocketed pita bread that his family had been making since 1926, first in the Middle East where they had lived before immigrating to the United States and then with his father in the small family bakery.
The father of flatbreads began introducing pitas to US grocery, deli and health food store buyers, and the rest is history. For more than 50 years, “Hurricane Harry,” as he is affectionately known, has been active in the baking industry, spearheading the development of more than 100 varieties of authentic, healthy baked foods that include everything from lavash and organic bread to gluten-free wraps and pita chips.
Today, Ridgefield, NJ-based Toufayan Bakeries is recognized as one of the nation’s leading producers of flatbreads, pitas, bagels and other specialty baked foods produced in three facilities: two in Florida and the other in New Jersey. Mr. Toufayan runs the company with his three children, Greg, Kristine and Karen Toufayan, who respectively head operations, finance and marketing within the organization. Decades ago, Mr. Toufayan became the first to automate production of pita bread and spearheaded the building of his company’s three bakeries.
Mr. Toufayan has been active in baking industry groups. His passion, however, involves charitable and philanthropic work. Let’s congratulate “Hurricane Harry” for his personal and business accomplishments and his induction into the American Society of Baking’s Baking Hall of Fame this year.