Margaret Rudkin 1897 — 1967
Margaret Fogarty Rudkin was born in New York City in 1897. Her Irish heritage showed in her bright red hair, green eyes, and sparkling temperament. She was valedictorian of her high school class and worked on Wall Street before marrying Henry Rudkin in 1923.
The Rudkin’s youngest of three sons suffered from asthma and severe allergies. On the recommendation of a specialist, the Rudkin’s introduced a diet of minimally processed foods and Margaret began baking all-natural, stone-ground, whole wheat bread. Even though she had never baked bread before, Margaret was able to develop a successful recipe that produced great-tasting and nutritious loaves. Her son’s health improved and the doctor recommended Margaret’s bread to other patients.
Soon Margaret was baking enough bread to request distribution by local grocers and Pepperidge Farm® was officially launched. The company was named for the Connecticut home where Margaret and her family lived. Growth was rapid and the company outgrew several bakeries until opening a state-of-the-art factory in Norwalk, CT in 1947. Cookies and frozen pastries were added to the brand in the 1950s. On a trip to Europe in the 1960s, Margaret discovered the snack that would ensure the company’s future: Goldfish® crackers.
In 1961, Margaret Rudkin sold Pepperidge Farm to Campbell Soup® and became the first woman to sit on the board of that large, family-run business. In 1963, she published The Margaret Rudkin Pepperidge Farm Cookbook, the first cookbook to rank as a best seller on the New York Times Bestseller list. She is an inspiration to women everywhere who see a problem that needs to be solved and take it on.