-

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Getting To Know Mr. Fleischmann

Do you know this man?

Chances are you've heard his surname, even if you didn't know his first name was Charles. Charles Louis Fleischmann to be exact. Perhaps you need another hint.

Yes, bread baker that I am not, I actually have two packages of Fleischmann's Yeast in my refrigerator. Even more surprising, I didn't buy them for today's post. I've been replenishing packages of yeast in my refrigerator for years in hopes that one day I would get past my uncanny case of yeastaphobia. I do believe I made that word up. But for me, it is indeed very real. Alas, today we are not talking about me, it's Mr. Fleischmann's day today and I do think it would be nice of us to get to know him a little better:)

Charles Fleischmann was born near Budapest, Hungary, on November 3, 1834, son of Alois and Babette Fleischmann. He was educated in Vienna and Prague and emigrated to American in 1866. He and brother Maximillian partnered with James W. Gaff and founded a business in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1868 to produce and sell compressed yeast and distilled spirits...Its first product was yeast. Then came vinegar, malt, syrup, gin and whiskey. The yeast production was the world's largest, and vinegar production second largest by World War I. Active dry yeast was widely used in World War II, for which Standard Brands Company (known as Fleischmanns, the company changed its name to Standard Brands in 1929) was awarded an Army and Navy Production Award in 1943, with an "E" for Excellence. The American Hungarian Federation

It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Mr. Fleischmann on the day of his birth. While researching this post to share with you today I discovered many fascinating facts about the man who brought standardized baker's yeast to the American shores.

Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, Charles and his brothers and sisters were from a well-to-do, successful family of merchants. They landed in America with high hopes, skills, and some financial means. A man of immense energies and creative genius, Charles not only had time to patent dozens of inventions, found several businesses and a bank, he served as a state senator for Ohio and cultivated a passion for horse breeding and classical piano. Feeling socially constrained by the prejudices of New York City society, he encouraged his family to build summer homes around Griffin Corners in the Catskills, which quickly attracted other Jewish vacationers and hoteliers. For the next 80 years or so, the Catskills "Borscht Belt" became a major resort destination. The Fleischmann Yeast Family by Christiaan Klieger

The Science of Yeast is way out of this gal's league. I was a terrible science student. I'm sure my quest to conquer my scientific fears were inflated by Mrs. Bernard. She was my 7th grade science teacher. Without going into much detail, suffice to say our classroom was the battleground for Frankenstein's Laboratory. (picture body parts suspended in jars of formaldehyde)

Charles Fleischmann was a 32-year-old master distiller and yeast production superintendent on the estate of an Austrian nobleman when he first visited the United States in 1866. He went to New York City to attend the wedding of his sister Josephine. As the story goes, Fleischmann was aghast at the poor quality of the baked goods served at the wedding. Austrian yeast-risen breads and pastries were much better. French scientist Louis Pasteur had recently discovered the role of the one-celled yeast fungus in fermentation, and Charles had become an expert in the process in carrying out his duties producing spirits and yeast for his aristocratic employer.

The principles and science of bread baking are much more complicated than tearing open one of those packages above and coaxing tiny organisms into "blood" warm water. Each of those organisms have but one cell and reproduce by budding. One package contains billions of yeasts waiting to explode. Yeasts float unseen in the air around us. They can be found in the soil, on plants and in our food. Like all fungi, they require moisture and sugar or starch in order to grow but unlike other fungi, Saccharomyces cerevisiae changes the food it consumes. Although all very different, champagne, bread and beer are all linked by yeast.

After working in a local distillery for two years, in 1868 Fleischmann moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he, his brother, and distiller James W. Gaff opened their own distillery under the name Gaff, Fleischmann and Company. Over the next 20 years Fleischmann received five patents for processes related to the distillation or aging of beer and liquor. His most important patent, however, concerned baker's yeast. In 1870 he and his brother Henry patented a high-quality, solid yeast that was similar to their father's, made from the froth formed during the fermentation of beer. For the next six years, they tried to sell the yeast to local bakers but many feared that bread made with Fleischmann's yeast would taste like beer.

However, things changed for the Fleischmann brothers when they created a stunning exhibit at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. The exhibit permitted visitors to watch as the yeast was made, the dough was set, and the bread was baked. It also gave guests a chance to sample Vienna bread from the model Vienna Bakery where they were also offered Viennese pastries, coffee, ices and chocolate. Millions of visitors went away craving more...

When the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia was first mooted, Mr. Fleischmann got the idea that a Vienna Model Bakery, with specious gardens about it, where bread, cakes, coffee, and chocolate could be served in the Viennese fashion, would be a novelty and probably a success. He obtained the concession, one of the most important granted, and his bread and rolls won the highest awards at the fair. He made large profits, and after the close of the exposition he transferred the business to Tenth Street and Broadway, in New York City. The business grew until at this time the manufacturing part of it covers a large area at Eighty-fourth Street and East End Avenue. There are also branches in Philadelphia and in many other cities. All this time the cafe at Broadway and Tenth Street remained a popular resort. New York Times, October, 4, 1904

Before long, bakers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York were inquiring about the yeast. To help overcome their fears about the relative difficulty of using solid yeast, Fleischmann offered the services of trained bakers to help them get started. By 1879 the company was also selling yeast to grocers where homemakers could buy it, and it had expanded its product line to include malt, syrup, vinegar, and feed by-products. By 1897 the company had branch operations in every major city in the United States and was operating the world's largest yeast plant in Peekskill, New York. It became the world’s leading yeast producer and the second largest vinegar producer, a subsidiary named the Fleischmann Distilling Company was also formed and America had its first distilled gin as well.

By 1915, Peekskill New York was the yeast-making capital of the world." The company’s huge Charles Point facility had more than 125 buildings, consumed more than 5,000 bushels of grain, corn, rye and barley a day, was equipped with more than two miles of railroad and used 22.5 million gallons of water and 5,000 tons of coal a month. With buildings containing more than 1.5 million square feet of space, the Fleischmann facility took up close to 100 acres. More than 1,000 people worked at the Fleischmann Plant at its peak.Historic Peekskill Pier Named After Company That Built It;Office of the mayor press release, October 23, 2003

As I close today's rather long post, I would also like to mention another legacy attributed to Mr. Charles Louis Fleischmann which I found at Barry Popik's website.

Origin of the "Bread Line"
October 2, 1904, New York Times, pg. 33:

The idea of the "bread line" came to Mr. Fleischmann in a simple way. When the bakery was first started at Tenth Street and Broadway, a few hungry tramps, attracted by the smell of the hot loaves, hovered about the grating in the pavement. Finally one of the men plucked up courage enough to ask for something to eat. Mr. Fleischmann was there at the time, and he gave the man a loaf of bread and a loaf as well to the hungry men who stood near by. He bade them come again when they were hungry, and the next night they were there. The men told others, and it was taken for granted that the feeding would continue. It did, and has not failed one night since.

The "bread line" grew until at times as many as 500 loaves were distributed each night. Mr. Fleischmann employed a staff of men, headed by "Capt. Henry," to feed the hungry. In the early days Mr. Fleischmann went among the men himself and sought ways to help them with money and advice. Then he added his almost equally famous free labor bureau. He found out what the men could do and sent word to employers to fill their needs at his place. Finally "Capt. Henry" was enabled to hand out jobs as well as bread. Some time ago a large blackboard was placed in the bakery and on it were posted "wants" for employes. Many a good man, forced into the line from sheer necessity, found a good position through this means.

I have quite a few Fleischmann recipe books that I was unable to share with you today. However, I did want to include at least one recipe for you to enjoy. This Vienna Bread recipe was harvested from Dr. Chase's Third, Last, and Complete Receipt Book and Household Physician published in 1888.

Don't be surprised to see a couple of those books and their recipes shared on Wordless Wednesdays throughout the month. After all, November is often celebrated as National Bread Month! And today, dear readers, is National Sandwich Day! Here's a taste:)


1910

You might also like:
Wordless Wednesday; Fleischmann Recipes

48 Nibbles:

What's Baking?? said...

Louise, thank you for introducing Mr Fleischmann to me. A great post on the history. I'm sure all the bread lovers out there is forever grateful to Mr Fleischmann. :)

I Wilkerson said...

I had to chuckle at the idea of replenishing your yeast "just in case" you got the urge to bake. It wouldn't have been so funny except I will do that with buttermilk--and that has a much shorter shelf life. I guess it's just tough being a food blogger ;-)

Gloria Baker said...

I don't know this man...but now of course, thanks to you!!A really interest and nice post Louise.
and I love make bread,and love this post!!!xo.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Really entertaining post! A whole bunch of stuff I didn't know - thanks for the education! We do use yeast, and buy it by the pound. It keeps in the freezer for several years past its expiration date. Currently using SAF, but we need to use Mr. Fleichmann's next. ;-)

Savannah Granny said...

Louise, This is so interesting. I was just looking at a a package of "highly active yeast" a few hours ago. I didn't know about storing in the fridge.My grandson made the most wonderful pizza dough and bread when he was here for Bob's birthday. He was telling all about the principles of yeast and about it being in the air and the bread tasting different in difference parts of the world. He will love this article. I am emailing it to him. Thanks for the always informative posts.
Have a blessed week, Ginger

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

As a bread baker, it is amazing I knew nothing about Mr. Fleischmann beyond the name. Leave it to you, Louise, to dig up the backstory and allow it to ferment before our eyes! I might have to see if I can recreate that Vienna bread! I certainly have enough jam stocked up to spread it with …

Cakelaw said...

Thanks for this post - it was interesting to learn about Fleischmanns and I also did not know that it was bread month this month!

Nee said...

Hi Louise , I knew the name of the yeast was Fleischmann's yeast , never gave it a second thought , just knew I liked it , it's nice to know where things you like come from , Thanks for sharing :).

Dottie said...

Dear Louise, What a spectacular post! I had no idea about Mr. Fleischmann! We just open the package of yeast and just make bread, etc. Now everytime I will make bread I will remember the info on your post. Thanks so much for sharing with us...Blessings, Have a great week...Dottie :)

SissySees said...

I love to bake, love the smell of yeast bread... but you lost me at "science."

小悦工坊 said...

Louise,

Thanks for your research and introduction to Mr.Fleischmann. I read with great interest about this successful scientist and entrepreneur . I'm impressed by his inventions, business insights as well as his generosity in feeding the hungry, 500 loaves a day! A man with an open mind, a kind heart and great energy!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

An interesting man. His books must be great.

Cheers,

Rosa

Johanna GGG said...

wonderful lesson about fleischmann - we don't have his yeast in Australia (as far as I know) but I have come across the name in American recipes - love the story about the bread line in particular - yeast is a magical beast - hope you might overcome your phobia one day - I always remember my mum making some terrible loaves before she finally got a feel for it - and she makes wonderful bread now - so it is just a matter of getting in up to your elbows and enjoying a bit of playing with dough. though I know you need a little energy to start.

openid said...

I just used some of his yeast this weekend, awesome post, Louise!

kitchen flavours said...

Hi Louise,
I love this post! Very interesting and informative read on Mr Charles Fleischmann! I'm only familiar with this name associated to yeast, but never knew about the bread line and about Mr Fleischmann!
I hope that one of these days, you will get over your "yeastaphobia". I'm sure you can do it, bread making is fun, give it a try, especially since this month is National Bread Month! :)
Thanks for this wonderful post!

~~louise~~ said...

So glad you enjoyed it Jenn. There sure are a lot of bread bakers out there:)

~~louise~~ said...

Now I'm chuckling Inger, I use to replensih buttermilk all the time until I discovered that powdered stuff. It lasts longer so I only replace it when it expires, lol...

~~louise~~ said...

You are a champion at bread baking gloria! I'm so glad you liked this post:)

~~louise~~ said...

So glad you enjoyed it John, it was quite a learning experience for me as well.

~~louise~~ said...

Hi Ginger!
I can't tell you how pleased I am to know that you are sending this post to your grandson. There was so much more I wanted to include but yes, it does last longer in the fridge!

~~louise~~ said...

We would LOVE to see you recreate that Vienna Bread T.W. After all, what better way to celebrate your new jammin' creations!

~~louise~~ said...

It seems that no one is really sure whether November is National Bread Month, Cakelaw. I for one think it should be!

~~louise~~ said...

Thank YOU for visiting Nee!

~~louise~~ said...

I was really excited about sharing this post dottie for that very reason. We sometimes take things for granted when it comes to opening a package or a jar. It's nice to reflect on times before every now and again to see how we got here:) I'm so glad you enjoyed this post...

~~louise~~ said...

Lol...me too, Channon:)

Kathy said...

Great post, Louise! Interesting facts, as always! I do a lot of yeast baking now, but I used to have yeastphobia, too. You should give it a try. It does become addictive!

Catherine said...

Dear Louise, After reading your posts and learning about these products that are used regularly it gives me a whole new appreciation for them all. Thank you.
Blessings and prayers always, Catherine xo

Katerina said...

I know the brand but I had no idea about the story of the man behind it! Thank you Louise for introducing him to us. I love to learn new things and about people who made a difference!

CQUEK said...

I learn a lot today by reading your post.

~~louise~~ said...

I'm so glad you liked this post, Little Joy. It was a pleasure learning about Mr. Fleischmann in my research and so much fun to share.

~~louise~~ said...

Thanks Rosa...

~~louise~~ said...

These elbows are getting prepped and ready to go Johanna. Thanks for the encouragement!

~~louise~~ said...

Thanks, Angela...

~~louise~~ said...

So glad you enjoyed it, Joyce. I am slowly working on it. who knows, perhaps one of these days I will bake Vienna Bread!

~~louise~~ said...

Thanks for the encouraging words, Kathy. I know one day I will just say YES and do it. Until then I will just oogle all the heavenly yeast breads that you and others bake:)

~~louise~~ said...

So glad, Catherine!

~~louise~~ said...

I'm delighted you enjoyed your visit, Katerina. It was a fun post to research!

~~louise~~ said...

And I learn a lot reading yours, Candy...

grace said...

that's the only yeast i'll buy! thanks for sharing some history, louise! :)

Marjie said...

Here's the thing when dealing with yeast, since I presume you have a stand mixer: Use very warm water, but not hot - if you can put your finger in it and it feels warm, it's the right temperature. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water (or milk, for that matter, but I usually add powdered milk to bread recipes that call for milk). Then add the flour, then everything else, and mix at the lowest possible speed for 5 to 10 minutes. Let it rise and Hoorah! Bread Dough! Now, I'm not going to attempt your Vienna Bread recipe calling for 4 Pounds of flour. That's just too much even for us!

(And I confess that when I saw the name Fleischmann, I thought of margarine. I use Red Star yeast in the 2 pound bulk packages.)

Zoe said...

Hi Louise,

I have not reside or bake in US before but I sure know Mr Fleischmann... *wink*

Zoe

Maureen said...

I LOVE this post! My good friend Maggie is related to old Charles but she never really told me much about him. Thanks for a terrific post. Fleischmann's Yeast isn't available in Australia but it's what I always used when I lived in the states.

Alida said...

Interesting. I didn't know about Mr Fleishmann.We used to have mainly Italian makes years ago but I am sure now it is different. Great informative post Louise!

lena said...

oh dear, i've been using yeast so much and yet i do not know this guy, what a shame! thanks for posting this, it is an interesting read about Fleishmann and his bread line! wow! hundereds of free loaves a day, that's really something!

what are you going to do with the overstocked yeast now? LOL!

~~louise~~ said...

Me too, Grace! Glad you liked it!

~~louise~~ said...

I'm almost afraid to admit that I remember Fleischmann's margarine too, Marjie. They may even still make it I don't know. I buy all my butter at the Dairy Store.

You are so sweet to walk me through the steps. I think I can, I think I can...

Suchismita Majumdar said...

Dear Louise, thanks for introducing me to Mr. Fleishmann :-) Loved reading about him :-)

Amelia said...

Hi Louise, excellent posting. Thank for introducing Mr. Flesshmann and the history. Love this posting cos I enjoy making my own bread.

Thanks for sharing. Very impressive!