York Pretzel Bakery makes Billions Annually
In 1914, the York Pretzel Bakery was begun by seven individuals: Harry B. Anstine, Gabriel W. Reider, Jacob Beitzel, Simon A. Barshinger, Horace E. Reider, Harry W. Schaberg and Luther Meckley. By the close of 1914, their bakery was in operation on a large empty lot at the southeast corner where Pattison Street crosses the Ma & Pa Railroad in the east end of York.
In this photo, from the collections of the York County Heritage Trust, I focus in on the front of their initial 1914 building; with the photo taken shortly after the bakery was sold to the National Biscuit Company in 1925. If you are reading this on the Ydr.com site, click on this LINK for a Full View of the illustrations in this post on the original YorkBlog site; since the ydr.com site will occasionally cut off important details in the cropping of illustrations.
The initial directors of the York Pretzel Bakery were Harry B. Anstine, Gabriel W. Reider, Jacob Beitzel, and Simon A. Barshinger. After selling the bakery to Nabisco, Harry B. Anstine was a three term Mayor of York; from 1932 until his death in 1942.
Simon A. Barshinger operated Barshinger’s Mill on Barshinger Creek at the time of formation of the York Pretzel Bakery. A good portion of his daily production of 19,600 pounds of flour, from the mill, went to the York Pretzel Bakery. In 1920, Simon Barshinger decided to further expand his milling capacity. He might have been among the first flour millers in York County to be totally powered by electric motors when he chose to move milling operations to Red Lion, PA.
Simon Barshinger selected property in Red Lion at the end of Taylor Avenue; a very convenient transportation location because his mill was adjacent to the Ma & Pa Railroad tracks. Being adjacent to the Ma & Pa Railroad made it easy to ship the mill’s flour from Red Lion to York and process it into pretzels.
The January 12, 1922, newspaper headline, in the Harrisburg Telegraph, touted “Billion Pretzels Made Last Year by York Firm.” The complete text of that article follows:
York, Pa., Jan. 12.—One billion pretzels were manufactured by the York Pretzel Bakery during the year 1921, which if linked together in one huge chain would extend a distance of 36,000 miles, or one and a half times the distance around the world. Two and a half million pounds of pretzels were manufactured during the year, according to an official of the plant.
Spurred on by a thriving demand for their pretzels, a four-story addition to the York Pretzel Bakery was completed in 1923, doubling the daily output. With this addition, they claimed to have the largest individual pretzel bakery in the world. The 1942 obituary of Harry B. Anstine, one of the company founders, noted:
[This was a business] venture which in only a few years was due to prosper to a degree beyond the dreams of even the most optimistic of them. The company built its new pretzel bakery on Pattison Street [next to the Ma & Pa Railroad in York, PA] where both factory and business enjoyed continued growth and increasing prosperity. In 1924 the National Biscuit Company made overtures for the purchase of the properties and business of the York Pretzel Bakery and the deal was consummated on January 1, 1925, when the National Biscuit Company [Nabisco] took possession.
This eastward looking photo of the York Pretzel Bakery was taken shortly after the bakery was sold to the National Biscuit Company in 1925. The York Pretzel Bakery was located on Pattison Street, running across photo foreground, next to where Pattison crosses the Ma & Pa Railroad; seen at left side of photo. At the right side of the photo, another four-story addition is under construction by the National Biscuit Company.
By the late 1970s, all bakery operations at York’s Nabisco plant were moved to a newer plant in Richmond, Virginia. The former bakery building, on Pattison Street, burnt down during July 2000; it had previously been vacant for a number of years.
Related posts include:
- O-SO-GUD Pretzels originated in York
- York’s O-SO-GUD Pretzels go Nationwide
- How did Barshinger Creek get its name?
- Barshinger’s Mill Site along Barshinger Creek