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They Were Almost Called “Fig Shrewsbury” Before The Town Of Newton Won Out

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.
  • In 1891, the first Fig Newtons were baked at the F.A. Kennedy Steam Bakery. The company named the pastries after the town of Newton, Massachusetts.
  • Fig Newtons were created in 1891 by the Kennedy Biscuit Works in Cambridgeport, 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.
  • Fig Newtons are the 3rd most popular cookie in the U.S., over 1 billion are consumed each year.
  • The iconic Fig Newton was one of the earliest commercially baked products in America, and the serendipitous result of the blending of a cookie maker in Philadelphia, an inventor from Florida, and a massive merger of over 100 bakeries in New York and Chicago.
  • Because of the lowly Fig Newton, the legendary Nabisco baking company had its roots. Its bakery in Chicago today is the largest bakery in the world, with more than 1,200 workers and producing 320 million pounds of snack foods annually.
  • 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.
  • It was a match made in heaven: 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.


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