From breads and bagels to cookies and cakes, the baked goods consumers know and love would be nothing without the ovens that bake and bring them to life. And it was the inventions of Harold J. Flynn, an engineering pioneer, that revolutionized this technology — and the industry itself. 

A native of New Haven, Conn., Mr. Flynn graduated from Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute of Technology with a degree in mechanical engineering. He then joined Ensign Ribbon Burners, immediately demonstrating his technical prowess and working his way up to company president before leaving to start the Flynn Burner Corp. in 1946. It was here that Mr. Flynn advanced the development of the ribbon burner, an integral part of direct gas-fired (DGF) ovens that are suited for baked goods that require a high temperature such as biscuits, pizza and crackers. To this day, Flynn Ribbon Burners and components are at the heart of thousands of DGF ovens throughout the world, some of which are operational even 50 years later. 

“It is no exaggeration to say that every day, throughout the world, millions of people benefit from these advancements,” said Dom Medina, president of Flynn Burner.

Mr. Flynn’s accomplishments and hard work weren’t limited to his professional life, as he was an active member of his community in New Rochelle, NY, through volunteer and civic work. He was a trustee of the New Rochelle Boys Club and the Iona College Institute of Arts, a president of the Rotary Club of New Rochelle and a governor of the New Rochelle Hospital Medical Center. Mr. Flynn also served as vice president and director of the American Association of Industrial Management, was a member of the National Manufacturers Association, New York State Professional Engineers and US Chamber of Commerce. He holds an honorary LLD degree from Iona College. 

“Despite his many achievements, Harold Flynn never sought praise or recognition,” Mr. Medina noted. “He was beloved and admired by family, friends and professional associates. … Throughout his life, he encouraged others to use their creativity and skills to make positive changes in people’s lives.”

Mr. Flynn died at age 78 in 1978. Many years later, his impact on the baking industry is still felt. 

“His legacy and leadership qualities he exemplified continue to be maintained by Flynn (Burner), and others who were fortunate to know, work with and learn from his exemplary life and creative innovative ideas,” Mr. Medina said.

This article is an excerpt from the February 2023 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on the Baking Hall of Fame, click here.