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Blueberry English Muffins
Wolferman’s English Muffins in (from top) Wild Blueberry, Cheddar and Cranberry. Photo courtesy Wolfermans.com.
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about the author

 

KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.

 

 

September 2010

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Breadstuffs

Wolferman’s English Muffins

Page 3: The Gourmet Contender From Kansas City

 

 

This is Page 3 of an article on the history of English muffins. Here, the history of Wolferman’s English Muffins. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.

 

 

Wolferman’s: A Different Style Of English Muffin

It’s hard to keep a harness on a good recipe—especially in such a well-trafficked town as New York City. The English muffin concept spread.

Louis Wolferman of Kansas City, Missouri founded a corner grocery store in 1888. His slogan was “Good Things to Eat,” and he sold only the finest products.

(Note that in 1888, products sold in stores were largely ingredients plus fresh-made foods like pickles, sausages and delicatessen items. The large-scale manufacture of processed foods had not yet begun—so people ate better to begin with.)

In 1910, Louis Wolferman’s son Fred began to make his own English muffins, using tuna cans as molds to form and bake them. (This was, and remains, an accepted way to make crumpets if one does not have crumpet rings. Just remove the top and bottom of the can and set them on the griddle or baking pan before pouring in the batter). Both Fred Wolferman and Sam Thomas baked their muffins on a fiery open griddle. Oven baking came later.

 

Wolferman's English Muffins
Wolferman’s English Muffins can be purchased online. Photo courtesy Wolfermans.com.

A key difference is that Wolferman’s English muffins are more dense and two inches high. While both companies currently make a variety of styles (sourdough, whole grain, etc.), Thomas’ makes three flavors (cinnamon, honey and a seasonal cranberry) and Wolferman’s targets the gourmet market with more than a dozen flavors, from Apple Orchard, Cinnamon and Raisin, Chocolate Chip, Pumpkin Spice and Wild Blueberry to Cheddar Cheese and Sundried Tomato, among others.

The company was acquired in January 2008 by Harry and David Holdings from Williams Foods, a direct marketer of specialty food gifts, that had acquired the brand from the Wolferman’s family. Williams had purchased the brand in March 1999 from Sara Lee, who in turn had purchased it from Fred Wolferman—great-grandson of Wolferman’s founder and the grandson of the creator of Wolferman’s English Muffins, in July 1986.


It’s not often that we know the historical origins of the foods we eat. Most, even those that evolved at the same time as the English muffin (like the brownie), are lost to history, legend and conjecture. As you enjoy your English muffins, raise your coffee cup or juice glass to toast Sam and Fred, and their successful ventures in muffindom.

And see our review of Wolferman’s English Muffins, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.

 

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