Kennedy Biscuit (forerunner to Nabisco) Bakery - Cambridge, MA
Posted by: NorStar
N 42° 21.746 W 071° 06.102
19T E 326929 N 4692157
Quick Description: The Kennedy Biscuit Factory, now the Kennedy Biscuit Lofts, was where Fig Newtons were introduced and other well known crackers and cookies were made.
Location: Massachusetts, United States
Date Posted: 11/15/2008 7:29:04 AM
Waymark Code: WM55KA
In Cambridge, between Central Square and MIT, and a couple blocks south of Massachusetts Avenue, is a brick structure that was the former Kennedy Biscuit Factory. Though this name is not commonly known today, many of the products made at this location, Fig Newtons, Lorna Doones, for example, are still enjoyed today by millions of people, and many manufacturing innovations in baking were done here.
The company started as a bakery of Artemis Kennedy in 1805. He started making hard tack crackers after two other businesses were successful (hard tack is a hard, dry cracker that did not spoil, and, thus, was good as food for sea voyages). In 1839, the Kennedy family moved to Cambridge, and in 1845, they moved to this location off Massachusetts Avenue to expand their operations.
The company was open to using innovative processes. In 1875, Kennedy installed reel ovens, which use a ferris wheel type of mechanism to control cooking of the products. A plaque is on the building at the corner of Franklin and Sidney Streets.
Fig Newtons (named after the nearby city of Newton - apparently the name, "Fig Cambridges", wasn't catchy enough) were first made in 1892 at this factory by Charles M. Roser.
By 1889, it was the largest baking operation in the country, but it was still only a regional bakery. To sell nationally, the company was sold to the New York Biscuit Company, which was a consolidation of several New England bakeries. Later, this company was one of three that formed the National Biscuit Company, now the Nabisco brand. Over the years the company made many of Nabisco's products, including Lorna Doone shortbread cookies, Uneeda crackers, and Crown Pilot crackers.
Some time in the 1900s, the factory was closed down. The building has now been converted into condominiums. The main entrance on Franklin Street has been adorned with a gate and posts embedded with forms that represent the crackers and cookies that were made there at one time. On the right is a cookie shaped plaque stating that the building has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Kennedy Biscuit Lofts Site:
Cambridge Historical Society, "Cambridge on the Cutting Edge: Innovators and Inventions," about 2000 [No year on it].