The Golden-Brown Age of Toast
A 6000-year history

Nothing MoreThan Fillings:
1. The true story of Pop Tarts
2. Toaster Pastry Facts

Mutant Spawns of Pop Tarts
Strange and failed toaster foods

Plugged-in Toasters
Links to other toaster-related sites

Best Thing since Sliced Bread
Eggos; Lenders' Bagels;
Thomas' English Muffins

 Best Thing since Sliced Bread Part III

Thomas’ English Muffins
Yes, there really was a guy named Thomas, and he really was born English. However, despite some hints that suggest otherwise from the company's advertising, Mr. Thomas was never a baker in England.

Samuel Bath Thomas was born in Plymouth, England in 1855. Looking for adventure and opportunities, the 21-year-old traveled to New York in 1876 and worked a number of menial jobs until he could speak the language. (Okay, so we're lying about that last part.)

Young Sam saved his money and in 1880 opened his own business, a bakery at 163 Ninth Avenue in Manhattan.

He perhaps adapted the crumpet a bit to American tastes, or perhaps it was the “Bara Maen,” a Welsh bread cake baked on hot stones that dates back to the 10th century. No matter, he managed to create the prototype of the “English muffin” (still completely unknown, of course, in England), baked on a griddle instead of in an oven.

His was one of several thousand small bake shops in New York, but his muffin caught the fancy of hoteliers, in part because it was a classy alternative to toast, but was just as easy to prepare (pop in toaster and butter). Thomas delivered his muffins in glass-domed cases with “S. B. Thomas” stenciled on them, which created enough brand awareness to allow him to begin selling his toaster crumpet through grocery stores as well.

Thomas died in 1919 and the business was inherited by his daughter and nephews. It was bought by CPC, a food conglomerate that eventually renamed itself Bestfoods. CPC spread Thomas’ yeasty empire, colonizing the rest of the United States, and - following an old British tradition - began subjugating Third World breads into the Thomas’ commonwealth, swallowing a pita bread company named Sahara and improbably rechristening it “Thomas’ Sahara Pita Bread.”

May the sun never set on the Thomas’ empire, taking up the whitebread man’s burden.

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