Kennedy, F. A., Steam Bakery - Cambridge, MA
Posted by: NorStar
N 42° 21.746 W 071° 06.102
19T E 326929 N 4692157
Quick Description: The F. A. Kennedy Steam Factory was a factory where the Fig Newton was introduced and where several innovations in baking processes were implemented.
Location: Massachusetts, United States
Date Posted: 11/16/2008 12:48:31 PM
Waymark Code: WM55Y9
Though the Kennedy Biscuit Factory or Kennedy Biscuit Works may not be familiar to people today, many of the food products that were produced here, Crown Pilot crackers, Lorna Doone Shortbread Cookies, and Fig Newtons, are eaten by the millions every year.
The factory is located in Cambridge, between Central Square and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a couple blocks south of Massachusetts Avenue.
At 129 Franklin Street, there is a fence and gate that has interesting designs on the posts in the shape of the cookies and crackers that were produced here. One of the two larger cookie designs shows the address and the other states "This building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places."
The Kennedy Biscuit Works was once one of the most successful businesses in making 'hard tack', a type of dry cracker that was brought on board ships for food because they didn't spoil. Artemis Kennedy started his bakery in Arlington in 1805, but the Kennedy family moved the business in 1839 to Cambridge. In 1845, the business was expanded and moved to the Franklin Street location. The factory continued to make innovations, including installing reel ovens, which moved the product through the oven in a ferris wheel like mechanism. There is a plaque on the corner of Franlin and Sidney Streets about the oven.
The most famous product introduced at this factory was the Fig Newton, which has been in existence for over 100 years.
The Kennedy Biscuit Works was merged into the New York Biscuit Company, which was then merged with three other firms to form the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco). Nabisco products continued to be made in this building, including Lorna Doone shortbread cookies, Uneeda crackers, and Pilot Crown crackers. Baking continued there well into the 1900s.
Today, the building has been converted to private residences. The building is easily visible from Masssachusetts Avenue near where it intersects with Main Street. The main building takes up the entire block inside Franklin, Brookline, Sidney, and Green Street. There may be other auxilliary buildings that were part of the company still standing, as well.
Book Source Used:
Cambridge Historical Society, "Cambridge on the Cutting Edge: Innovators and Inventions," Cambridge Historical Society, Cambridge: c2000.
129 Franklin Street
Cambridge, MA United States
County / Borough / Parish: Middlesex
Year listed: 1990
Historic (Areas of) Significance: Event, Architecture/Engineering
Periods of significance: 1875-1899, 1900-1924, 1925-1949
Historic function: Industry/Processing/Extraction
Current function: Work In Progress [Residences]
Privately owned?: yes
Primary Web Site: [Web Link]
Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]
Season start / Season finish: Not listed
Hours of operation: Not listed
Secondary Website 2: Not listed
National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed
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