Brothers August and Albert Junge of Junge Baking Co., Joplin, Mo., were selected as inductees into the ASB Baking Hall of Fame not only for their contributions to the baking industry but also for the role they played within their local community.
The brothers got their start at their father August Junge Sr.’s Chicago bakery, Heissler & Junge Co. While working there, August Junge Jr. attended the Chidlow Baking Institute, a first-of-its-kind school in the United States. August Junge was the institute’s first student and first graduate.
Noting the absence of any commercial bakeries in the area and having recently dissolved his partnership in Heissler & Junge Co., August Junge Sr. founded Junge Baking Co. in Joplin in 1900. The brothers were brought in to work side-by-side in the bakery, and following the death of their father in 1904, they assumed ownership of the company.
That year, the brothers moved the business out of a tiny basement bakeshop and into a 3,500-square-foot wood frame building with baking equipment powered by steam. A decade later, they expanded the business again, moving into a 20,000-square-foot, four-story building in 1915. The same year, Albert Junge converted an old horse lot adjacent to the plant into a landscaped park. Over the next decade, the park was transformed into an area for the entire Joplin community to enjoy, featuring a train, a windmill, waterfall and miniature village.
August and Albert Junge maintained a keen interest in new baking technologies. The company pioneered high-volume manufacturing of sliced bread and installed the first automated bread baggers. In 1921, it switched delivery methods from horse-drawn wagons to motorized transports, one of the first in the Midwest to do so. Its 163,000-square-foot cracker facility that opened in 1946 ranked among the biggest in the United States. The Junge Baking Co. split into two companies in 1944: the Junge Bread Co., which was responsible for bread production, and the Junge Biscuit Co., which was responsible for the production of cookies and crackers.
In the 1950s, the company adopted decentralized production to improve efficiencies, a rare move for a regional baker of its size.
In 1958, the Junge Biscuit Co. cracker plant was sold to Safeway, leaving the Junges to run only the baking plant. The family sold its interest in the baking plant in 1975.
At its peak, Junge Baking encompassed four large wholesale bakeries in Coffeyville, Kan.; Fort Scott, Kan., and two in Joplin. The company employed a staff of 650 and served Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
As president from 1904 to 1965, August Junge was the company’s public face, active in community matters, while Albert Junge, the bakery’s vice president, secretary and treasurer from 1904 to 1957, managed financial and marketing efforts.
Also in the 1930s, August Junge contributed land and funds to the Joplin school district to build an athletic stadium, still in use today. He also provided land and funding for the Joplin Regional Airport. August Junge died in 1967.
Albert Junge had a lifelong interest in physical fitness and athletics. Whole wheat baked foods fit that lifestyle. In 1915, Junge Baking Co. added California Raisin Bread. During the 1930s, he expanded variety bread offerings with the full line of Roman Meal products. Albert Junge died in 1957.