Many Hoboken residents are familiar with the town’s ties to iconic American brands such as Wonder Bread, Maxwell’s Coffee, and Oreo cookies. There’s another brand with ties to the Mile Square: Entenmann’s. The snack staple with the blue ribbon can proudly claim Hoboken lineage, as matriarch Martha Entenmann was a Hoboken BNR before becoming a trailblazer in modern business. Read on to learn more about Martha Entenmann and her Hoboken connections.
About Martha Entenmann
If you’re ever in the bakery section of a grocery store, you’ll likely recognize the iconic white boxes imprinted with a blue ribbon and emblazoned with the name “Entenmann’s.” The fame and ubiquity of these baked goods is due in large part to Hudson County native, Martha Entenmann, who after decades of hard work became the cherry on top of the cake which she, herself, baked.
Sugar Coated Hoboken
Martha Entenmann was born Martha Schneider on November 26th, 1906, at 124 Jefferson Street in Hoboken.
Martha was the youngest of four children. She was baptized on February 10th, 1907 at the German Evangelical Church, which is today’s Community Church of Hoboken located at 6th and Garden Street.
A Finger in Every Pie
According to the 1910 Census records, her father was an unemployed dock laborer born in Germany and was not a US citizen. His trouble keeping steady employment forced the family to resettle throughout Hudson County.
By 1910, the family had moved to 800 Bergenline Avenue in Union City, which was then called West Hoboken.
By 1915, the family had resettled twice, once at 131 Park Avenue and again at 1109 Willow Avenue in Hoboken.
By 1920, the family was living in Jersey City Heights where her father held two jobs as a marine firefighter and baker.
Perhaps her father’s newfound work as a baker led Martha to seek a baking position five years later when she struck out on her own and moved to Bay Shore, Long Island. There she found employment as a saleswoman in a bakery owned by William Entenmann Jr., whose father had founded the business in Brooklyn in 1898. Martha and William struck up a workplace romance and soon the two were married.
A Smart Cookie
Martha and William eventually had three sons, Robert, Charles, and William III — all of whom joined the baking business. Despite the Great Depression, the company prospered and its baked goods sold like proverbial hotcakes.
The bakeshop was located at 34 East Main in Bay Shore and specialized in home delivery of baked goods. Founder William Senior started out making deliveries on a horse-drawn wagon. When he retired in 1929, Martha and William Jr. took over the company.
Martha actively managed the home delivery of donuts, rolls, cakes, cookies, and bread while also keeping the books and running the office. It was rumored that fellow Hobokenite, Frank Sinatra was a weekly customer. By now, the blue-script packages were a staple in homes throughout New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Even prominent families like the Astors and Vanderbilts enjoyed a coffee cake or donut from the company.
When William died in 1951, Martha and her sons decided to streamline the operation and refocused efforts from home deliveries to placement in supermarkets and grocery stores. Soon the company expanded beyond the tri-state area and the treats were available nationally.
As part of the company’s expansion into grocery stores, the bakery’s packaging was updated. Martha is credited with creating the see-through cellophane window in the box in 1959, allowing customers to see what was inside.
As part of this expansion, the company built a 550,000-square-foot facility on a five-acre lot in Bay Shore to keep up with production. she became known as “Mrs. E” to hundreds of employees. The company ended its scaled-back home delivery in 1976. In 1976, the firm went public and stock certificates bore Martha’s likeness. In 1978, the bakery was sold to Warner-Lambert for $233 million. The Bay Shore factory shut down in 2014. Martha passed away on September 29th, 1996, in West Islip survived by her sons, eight grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.