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Ward Baking Company

Model Bakery, Bronx, New York

from Baseball magazine, July, 1915

    ...It takes a thousand pounds of yeast to supply this plant for a single day, and no less than twenty-five barrels a week of condensed milk, weighing six hundred and twenty-five pounds a barrel. Then there is vegetable oil used in greasing the bread pans, and sugar which is purchased by the car load. Flour is too bulky for this valuable floor space. It is unloaded from the original freight can at a special siding in the sub-basement. Stored in two-bushel sacks, it rises tier on tier to the very ceiling, literally thousands of tons of it. As it is needed it is hoisted to the top floor, where it is run through a gigantic apparatus, which winnows it free from dust and lint and all impurity. A steady river of the powdery dust flows through pipes to the floor beneath, and it is amazing the amount of refuse which this whirring mechanism extracts from even the purest of flour. Once the ingredients are gathered on the top floor the attraction of gravitation is geared to the colossal business and the very weight of the flour and the dough assists in its preparation as it descends through stage after stage of its development from floor to floor. Following the white river of flour in its unseen channel to the floor beneath, we see it emerge into huge tanks holding near a ton. These tanks are filled automatically and when they have received their proper amount they are automatically closed. To these tanks is added a proper amount of distilled water, the yeast and sugar, and the whole mixture allowed to stand for a time in gigantic troughs.

    When this mixture is "ripe," in the bread language, it is shot through openings in the floor to mixers beneath, where it is kneaded by machinery. These machines, not unlike the cement mixers of the streets in size and method of operation, turn round and round in never-ceasing revolution, exerting the resistless strength of hundreds of horsepower on the plastic dough. When of the proper consistency the whole contents of a mixer is precipitated into an enormous trough like a gigantic bread pan, where the single huge loaf of near a ton in weight is allowed to rise. This huge trough is suspended from the ceiling on rollers, and, when ready, is rolled to a certain position, where an opening in the floor communicates with the room beneath. A single attendant propels the gigantic loaf on its aerial railway, and, touching a spring, releases the bottom, the whole mass falling through the opening to the floor beneath. Here eager machinery seizes the huge lump of dough. It fairly tears the groaning mass to pieces, slicing it up with the precision of clock work into individual loaves of the proper weight. These loaves pause never an instant, but are hurried away through restless machinery, which molds and forms them and covers them with the necessary coating of flour. With never a rest, the machinery bears them at length to where a moving platform carries them one after another in an endless row, then precipitates them to another moving platform immediately beneath. Here another endless row of bread tins are coming to bear them to the enormous oven which looms up just beyond. One after another, automatically, the loaves fall from their moving platform, each into its respective pan on the moving platform beneath, and travel at the same slow pace to the fiery mouth of the oven. Here long iron arms reach down like the claws of a gigantic beetle and lift the loaves sixteen at a time into the mouth of the vast oven. The floor of that oven is unique. It is itself a moving platform. Upon this platform the loaves move in monotonous regularity to the farther end. In the sides of the oven are ranged windows where the attendant bakers may glance ever and anon to see that the loaves are baking properly and the heat is suitably regulated. It takes about twenty minutes to complete the journey. When they have reached the farther end they are done, crisp, well browned, glistening loaves of bread.

    From the end of the oven the loaves emerge in serried ranks. There is a sudden movement. They are precipitated from their steaming tins, and at a solemn, steady gait, as if instinct with life, they crawl, one after the other, in endless procession down a winding trough to the floor beneath. Here they emerge on another travelling platform, which conveys them to a waiting machine. This intricate mass of wheels and rods and glittering steel fixtures seizes the loaves as they approach, whirls them rapidly through a maze of evolutions, from which they emerge properly clothed, sober, sedate, each wrapped in a covering of waxed paper, stamped and sealed. Thence, safe from contact, literally baked from start to finish untouched by the human hand, they are borne away in gigantic crates to a neighboring platform, where a long row of waiting trucks are to bear them to the customers. One hundred and thirty-five of these automobile trucks leave this one establishment twice daily. It is a marvelous system, an education in itself, to see this great plant turning out its representative quota of the Ward product! One hundred and seventy-two loaves per minute is the record of the great oven.

Excerpt from "Famous Magnates of the Federal League: R. B. Ward, the Master Baker," Baseball Magazine, July, 1915. (source)

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