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Entenmann's / iStock

12 Fresh-Baked Facts About Entenmann's

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Entenmann's / iStock

You know the blue-and-white packaging and that elegant cursive logo. And there's a good chance you know just where to find all those Honey Buns, crumb coffee cakes, and chocolate chip cookies in your local supermarket. But we're willing to bet a box of chocolate frosted doughnuts—the company’s best seller—that there are a few things you don’t know about Entenmann’s.

1. IT ALL STARTED IN BROOKLYN.

erlyrizrjr via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

William Entenmann learned the baking trade in Stuttgart, Germany, where he spent his teenage years working at a bread factory. Eager to set out on his own, he moved to America with his family, and in 1898 opened a bakery on Rogers Street in Brooklyn. Every day, he delivered fresh-baked rolls, cakes, and bread loaves by horse-drawn wagon to customers throughout the neighborhood.

2. IT BECAME A LONG ISLAND TRADITION BY FLUKE.

A few years after opening his Brooklyn shop, William’s son, William Entenmann, Jr., came down with rheumatic fever. The family doctor recommended they move out of the city, where fresh air could flush out the illness. Entenmann moved his bakery 40 miles east to Bay Shore, Long Island, and eventually passed it down to his son, who helped grow Entenmann's into a profitable, far-reaching company. In 1961, Entenmann's opened what was then the world’s largest commercial bakery on the site of the elder Entenmann's shop. It remained a Long Island institution until 2014, when parent company Grupo Bimbo closed it.

3. BREAD USED TO BE A SPECIALTY.

For decades, Entenmann's turned out loaves of bread along with pastries, pies, and its original best seller, All Butter Loaf Cake. In 1951, after William Entenmann, Jr., died of a heart attack, his wife, Martha, and children gathered to discuss the company’s future. They decided they needed to narrow their focus in order to stay competitive. So they jettisoned the bread loaves and put all the company’s manufacturing muscle behind its pies, cakes, and other sweet treats.

4. MOVING TO SUPERMARKET SALES WAS A RISK.

The Entenmann family also decided to do away with home delivery and focus solely on retail sales. After decades spent building a loyal network of delivery customers, this was a big risk. And it was difficult to stay the course after frozen food sales, mail order, and other opportunities came calling. But the Entenmanns stuck with their choice and were rewarded handsomely as they rode the growth of the supermarket industry in America.

5. FRANK SINATRA HAD A STANDING ORDER.

The famous crooner had a thing for Entenmann’s coffee crumb cake, and would receive weekly deliveries to his house. Other famous clientele included J.P. Morgan and the Vanderbilt family.

6. THE COMPANY INVENTED THE FIRST SEE-THROUGH BOX FOR BAKED GOODS.

A few years after going all-in on retail sales, Martha Entenmann and sons had a revelation: If customers were able to see pies and cakes on display at the bakery, then shouldn’t the same hold true at the supermarket? In 1959, Entenmann’s came out with the first see-through packaging for baked goods. The company’s cellophane window boosted sales and quickly became an industry standard.

7. PEOPLE WOULD PASS THE CAKES AND PIES OFF AS UPSCALE TREATS.

In a 1979 feature for New York Magazine, writer Jean Bergantini Grillo confessed to passing off Entenmann's baked goods as her own gourmet creations. She also wrote about image-conscious hosts and hostesses who would present the company’s creations as homemade, or fresh from the local bakery. "Rich people have been stocking up on Entenmann’s cakes and pies for years, craftily disposing of the telltale boxes and serving them anonymously."

8. IT BATTLED NAGGING RUMORS INVOLVING A RELIGIOUS LEADER.

In the late '70s and early '80s, word spread that Entenmann's was funneling money into the Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. It’s not clear how the Korean religious leader, who considered himself the messiah and was imprisoned for tax fraud, came to be linked with a baked goods company. But the rumor was persistent. In 1979, Entenmann's sent out 10,000 letters to clergymen and other influential sources pleading its case. "Absolutely, completely, unequivocally false, untrue and unfounded," was how a company spokesman put it to the Associated Press.

9. IT’S BEEN THROUGH QUITE THE CORPORATE SHUFFLE.

The Entenmann family sold the company to pharmaceutical giant Warner-Lambert in 1978. Four years later, Warner sold the baking brand to General Foods, which then sold Entenmann's to Kraft. The company was sold again several years later, this time to Bestfoods, which was purchased by Unilever in 2000. Unilever offloaded its baking division to Canadian manufacturer George Weston. Finally, in 2008, Entenmann’s sold to Mexican baking company Grupo Bimbo, its current owner.

10. IT SELLS SCENTED CANDLES.

Ever wished your home or apartment smelled more like butter pound cake? Well wish no more! Several years ago, Entenmann's introduced scented candles that recreated the smell of some of its hallmark creations, like apple strudel, caramel pecan pie and, yes, butter pound cake. The candles even come in see-through boxes that replicate the baked goods’ packaging.

11. IT TURNS OUT MORE THAN 100,000 DOUGHNUTS EVERY HOUR.

To keep all those college dorms and office break rooms stocked, Entenmann's turns out a dizzying 15 million donuts every week, and upwards of 780 million each year.

12. THE ENTENMANN FAMILY IS STILL IN BUSINESS.

The wine business, that is. After selling the baking company in 1978, Robert Entenmann, grandson of founder William, bought a potato farm on Long Island’s North Fork and turned it into a horse farm. In the mid-'90s, he converted the property into a vineyard, and today it turns out bottles of red, white, and bubbly under the Martha Clara label.

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Courtesy New District
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Food
Say ‘Cheers’ to the Holidays With This 24-Bottle Wine Advent Calendar
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Courtesy New District

This year, eschew your one-tiny-chocolate-a-day Advent calendar and count down to Christmas the boozy way. An article on the Georgia Straight tipped us off to New District’s annual wine Advent calendars, featuring 24 full-size bottles.

Each bottle of red, white, or sparkling wine is hand-picked by the company’s wine director, with selections from nine different countries. Should you be super picky, you can even order yourself a custom calendar, though that will likely add to the already-high price point. The basic 24-bottle order costs $999 (in Canadian dollars), and if you want to upgrade from cardboard boxes to pine, that will run you $100 more.

If you can’t quite handle 24 bottles (or $999), the company is introducing a 12-bottle version this year, too. For $500, you get 12 reds, whites, rosés, and sparkling wines from various unnamed “elite wine regions.”

With both products, each bottle is numbered, so you know exactly what you should be drinking every day if you really want to be a stickler for the Advent schedule. Whether you opt for 12 or 24 bottles, the price works out to about $42 per bottle, which is somewhere in between the “I buy all my wines based on what’s on sale at Trader Joe’s” level and “I am a master sommelier” status.

If you want to drink yourself through the holiday season, act now. To make sure you receive your shipment before December 1, you’ll need to order by November 20. Get it here.

[h/t the Georgia Straight]

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Wally Gobetz, flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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Food
A Brief History of the Pickleback Shot
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Wally Gobetz, flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It's sour. It's briny. For some, it's nauseating. For others, a godsend.

It's the pickleback shot, an unusual combination of drinking whiskey and pickle brine that has quickly become a bartending staple. Case in point? Kelly Lewis, manager of New York City's popular Crocodile Lounge, estimates she sells at least 100 pickleback shots every week.

Pickleback loyalists may swear by it, but how did this peculiar pairing make its way into cocktail culture? On today's National Pickle Day, we hit the liquor history books to find out.

PICKLEBACK HISTORY, AS WE KNOW IT

As internet legend has it, Reggie Cunningham, a former employee of Brooklyn dive bar Bushwick Country Club, invented the shot in March 2006. He was half bartending, half nursing a hangover with McClure's pickles, when a customer challenged him to join her in doing a shot of Old Crow bourbon whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice as a chaser. As he nostalgically tells YouTube channel Awesome Dreams, "the rest is history."

Cunningham went on to introduce the pairing to more and more customers, and the demand grew so much that he decided to charge an extra dollar per shot, just for the addition of pickle brine. After that, the mixture spread like wildfire, with bars across the world from New York to California and China to Amsterdam adding "pickleback" to their menus.

THE PICKLEBACK'S UNCLEAR ORIGIN

Two shot glasses topped with small pickles.

Neil Conway, flickr // CC BY 2.0

Sure, Cunningham may have named it the pickleback shot, but after reviewing mixed reports, it appears pickle juice as a chaser is hardly novel. In Texas, for example, pickle brine was paired with tequila well before Cunningham's discovery, according to Men’s Journal. And in Russia, pickles have long been used to follow vodka shots, according to an NPR report on traditional Russian cuisine.

Unfortunately, no true, Britannica-approved record of the pickleback's origin exists, like so many do for other popular drinks, from the Manhattan to the Gin Rickey; it's internet hearsay—and in this case, Cunningham's tale is on top.

SO, WHY PICKLES?

Not sold yet? Sure, a pickle's most common companion is a sandwich, but the salty snack and its brine have terrific taste-masking powers.

"People who don't like the taste of whiskey love taking picklebacks because they completely cut the taste, which makes the shots very easy to drink," Lewis told Mental Floss. "Plus, they add a bit of salt, which blends nicely with the smooth flavor of Jameson."

Beyond taste masking, pickle juice is also a commonly used hangover cure, with the idea being that the salty brine will replenish electrolytes and reduce cramping. In fact, after a famed NFL "pickle juice game" in 2000, during which the Philadelphia Eagles destroyed the Dallas Cowboys in 109 degree weather (with the Eagles crediting their trainer for recommending they drink the sour juice throughout the game), studies have seemed to confirm that drinks with a vinegary base like pickle juice can help reduce or relieve muscle cramping.

WAYS TO PARTAKE

While core pickleback ingredients always involve, well, pickles, each bar tends to have a signature style. For example, Lewis swears by Crocodile Lounge's mix of pickle brine and Jameson; it pairs perfectly with the bar's free savory pizza served with each drink.

For Cunningham, the "Pickleback OG," it's Old Crow and brine from McClure's pickles. And on the more daring side, rather than doing a chaser shot of pickle juice, Café Sam of Pittsburgh mixes jalapeños, homemade pickle juice, and gin together for a "hot and sour martini."

If pickles and whiskey aren't up your alley, you can still get in on the pickle-liquor movement with one of the newer adaptations, including a "beet pickleback" or—gulp!—the pickled-egg and Jägermeister shot, also known as an Eggermeister.

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