National Fig Newton Day on January 16th annually recognizes a tasty pastry enjoyed across the country.
- Up until the 19th century, many physicians believed most illnesses were related to digestion problems. As a remedy, they recommended a daily intake of biscuits and fruit. Fig rolls served as an ideal solution to their advice, which remained a locally produced and handmade product.
- In 1891, Philadelphia baker and fig-lover, Charles Roser, invented and patented the machine, which inserted fig paste into a thick pastry dough.
- The Cambridgeport, MA-based Kennedy Biscuit Company then purchased Roser’s recipe. They began mass production after purchasing the recipe.
- The company named the pastries after the town of Newton, Massachusetts.
- They had named many of their other cookies for nearby towns, and almost called it the “Fig Shrewsbury” before Newton won out.
- Fig Newtons were one of the first commercially baked products in America.
- Because of the lowly Fig Newton, the legendary Nabisco baking company had its roots.
- In 1889, William Moore of New York bought out eight bakeries to start the New York Biscuit Company (including Kennedy Biscuit), and in 1890, Chicago-based Adolphus Green began the American Biscuit Company, by merging 40 midwestern bakeries.
- Moore and Green merged in 1898, making the National Biscuit Company, or N.B.C. Among the purchases were the machines of Mitchell and Roser’s cookie recipe.
- Mitchell’s machine for sugar wafers was also purchased; N.B.C. started mass producing sugar wafers in 1901. Both Mitchell and Roser walked away wealthy.
- Fig Newtons are the 3rd most popular cookie in the U.S., and over 1 billion are consumed each year.