In 1874, two German immigrants, Elizabeth Mimms and Peter Schmidt, embarked not only on a marriage but a baking business that still thrives today. Elizabeth, new to the United States, had a special knowledge and skill for baking bread. She shared her loaves as gifts throughout her neighborhood, friends and church. By 1886, the couple was baking bread from their home and distributing it locally in Baltimore, MD. Their beliefs were simple and wholesome, much like the bread they baked daily. Be well, work Well, life-long learning, create and experience, and do the right thing. It is this mission that made the Schmidt Baking Company one of the top 15 bakeries in the United States.
The foundation for their tremendous success is based on their business philosophy, “to be committed to baking an excellence product, outstanding service to our customers, superior packaging of our products and award-winning consumer advertising.” A visitor to one of the Schmidt bakeries commented, “The operation of the bakery is fascinating. But what is really amazing is the pride that the employees seem to take in their jobs and the quality of the products.”
By 1889, the Schmidt’s had opened their first baking plant in West Baltimore, eventually relocating to a larger plant after the turn of the century. Their plant went “all electric” by 1914, no doubt an innovative move for the time period. Throughout the 1920s, the Schmidt Baking Co. extended their line to pies, cakes and buns. They purchased an additional plant in Martinsburg, VW to extend their existing market.
Schmidt opened more plants in Cumberland, MD and Johnstown, PA. And in 1929, Schmidt introduced “sliced bread,” followed by cellophane wrapped loaves the following year. A new revolution for consumers was on the horizon. The company also developed and introduced a pantry pack 18 oz. loaf of white bread; half packaged in cellophane and half packaged in wax. With a zipper down the center, a consumer could separate the two halves. This allowed for saving the wax portion in the pantry for extended freshness. This marketing concept was completely unique to the Schmidt Baking Company.
By the 1940s, Schmidt had discontinued their sweet bread line to introduce new products. Their marketing campaigns included catchphrases like “Blue Ribbon White Bread” and “Made With Unbleached Flour.” A sign of staying true to their original philosophy of wholesome, natural ingredients during a time when other food companies were beginning to use more preservatives.
Schmidt joined the Quality Bakers of America in 1951, and thus began the more than 70-year partnership with Sunbeam Bread. By the 1960s, Schmidt was the first to develop the automatic process for “twisting” bread, make their loaves untouched by human hands. Their loaves were now being packaged in bags. They opened a distribution center in York, PA to help keep up with the demand in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington DC, Delaware. The 70s and 80s saw more expansion by acquiring the Star Baking Co., Sweetheart Bakery, Koester Baking Company, Betsy Ross Bakery, and Huber Baking Co.; and leasing another distribution center in the Philadelphia area. Business was booming!
Throughout the 80s, 90s, and up to the present day, the Schmidt Baking Company has continued to honor the remarkable legacy of the Elizabeth and Peter Schmidt by committing to delighting their customers! Now 130 years old, the Schmidt Baking Company has grown from the Schmidt’s kitchen to become the largest independent premium line wholesale baker in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Schmidt is a leader in meeting the challenges of the changing baking industry.
In 2000, Schmidt partnered with H&S Bakery and was soon after purchased by them in 2004. H&S Bakery was established in 1943 by Harry Tsakalos and Steve Paterakis who started out hand-making Italian bread in a brick oven in the basement of their small row home in Baltimore. Today, Schmidt Baking is part of the H&S Family of Bakeries, which includes H&S Bakery, Sunbeam Bread Bakeries, Northeast Foods, and Ottenberg’s. H&S Bakery is still family-owned and operated by the Paterakis family for four generations over 77 years, H&S Bakery is the largest wholesale baker and distributor in the country. With ten bakeries throughout the east coast, H&S distributes to two-thirds of the country and has partnerships with the biggest names in the food industry. Whether through our retail, foodservice, and frozen affiliate companies, H&S has a robust and diversified distribution model to meet any customers’ needs.
Schmidt consistently adopts innovative marketing, advertising, and promotional strategies to meet changing customer demands; all while taking great pride in providing quality product delivered fresh daily. Their mission has remained the same since 1886: to provide continuous improvement, research and development, start of the art manufacturing facilities, and creative solutions. To elevate the standard for exceptional quality and customer service. To support the development and advancement of our employees. And to create meaningful change in our communities.
Quality Bakers of America Cooperative is owned by leading U.S. wholesale bakers. Sunbeam® is the brand name and trademark licensed by QBA to our member bakers who also manufacture and market bakery products under their own brand names.