Universal York

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York Baker Responsible for Chocolate Star and Rabbit Cookies

Dark chocolate Stauffer star cookie, actual size
In 2004 I did an oral history interview with the late David Stauffer, Sr., the former head of the bakery business started by his grandfather, D. F. Stauffer. David Stauffer was then 103 years old. He had joined the family business at age 19, so he was able to share the fascinating story of the growth of the firm over most of the 20th century. He witnessed the evolution of a fairly small business where everything was done by hand and distributed locally by horse and wagon to several large automated factories with widespread distribution.
Mr. Stauffer became my hero that day when I discovered that he had invented the Christmas cookie many York County residents, past and present, can’t do without–chocolate stars.

Postcard, probably 1920s, showing Stauffer company, now McDonald’s lot.
He related that he had made the first cutter out of tin, back in the 1920s, and then later had a foundry make the pattern. They were first cut flat, then on a rotor that would cut them out as it turned. Stars were made first, and then the Easter rabbits came later.
The D. F. Stauffer Biscuit Company is no longer in the family, but the present company still does make stars and bunnies. They are still very popular, especially in this area. I had to go to two supermarkets today to find some. Another Stauffer family member, who also had a long career with the company, told me recently that they never caught on in other areas like they did around here. The rest of the world doesn’t know what it is missing.

Visit York County Heritage Trust’s Agricultural and Industrial Museum to see a sizable exhibit on the history of the D. F. Stauffer company, including a large roller used to cut another favorite, animal crackers. (Which do you bite off first–the head or the legs? Or does the whole animal get chomped up at once?)