When you hear “Wolferman’s Bakery,” you probably think of gourmet bakery gifts and, of course, two-inch tall super-thick English muffins. But if you were born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, the Wolferman’s name means much more. It is a cherished memory of one of Kansas City’s finest grocery stores — and one that certainly wouldn’t be the same without founders Louis and Fred Wolferman. 

The bakery’s humble beginnings

German immigrant Louis Wolferman was a dedicated family man. Always working, his values were deeply rooted in the belief that diligence and determination were the keys to success. Louis was also a risk taker. In 1888, a small corner grocery store went bankrupt, so he mortgaged his family home and purchased the store for $750. 

Louis’ son Fred Wolferman was skeptical about his father’s purchase at first. Fred had big ambitions for his career and didn’t want to be tied down. But he soon realized that with his help, his father’s venture could become successful. On top of that, Louis stamped his son’s name “Fred Wolferman” on the front of the building, sealing Fred’s future as a grocer. Despite the reluctance, Fred took the opportunity to heart, often claiming, “If grocery business it is then it will be the best grocery business.”

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In the beginning, the only staff were Louis, Fred, and their trusty workhorse Fanny. Every day, Fred would take Fanny to the local market where he picked out produce for the day. After calling hotels and homes for their orders, Fred would load up the wagon, then he and Fanny would be off to make deliveries for the rest of the day. 

Business is booming

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Wolferman’s set itself apart from competitors due to an insistence on high-quality everything. From ingredients and recipes to hard work and showmanship, the father-son duo always went above and beyond to make the business stand out from the rest. 

Employees would recall Fred saying, “We only buy what we cannot make better.” Initially, they relied on local markets and imports to fill their store with fine goods, but as business grew, Louis and Fred were able to purchase land for a coffee plantation, livestock yards, farms, and more that would ensure the best ingredients and highest quality. The business quickly became a destination for “Good Things to Eat.”

MORE: The Origin of English Muffins: How English Are They?

Business was so great that Louis and Fred expanded to a total of seven locations: six in Kansas City and one in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Their third store, constructed in 1910 in downtown Kansas City, was a marvelous building. At six stories high, it included a retail floor, warehouses, employee offices, an in-house bakery, and, most famously, the Tiffin Room. 

The Tiffin Room was an inviting restaurant that served breakfasts, light lunches, and specialty brews — you may recall our Tiffin Blend coffee. It would become an extremely popular place for Kansas Citians to spend a relaxing day. Customers enjoyed delightful meals with breads straight out of the oven, made-from-scratch dressings and spreads, fresh cream from Wolferman’s dairy farm, and rich desserts baked upstairs in the sixth-floor bakery. The same year the Tiffin Room opened to the public, Fred Wolferman introduced the legendary super-thick English muffin

Two-inch tall treasures

One day while experimenting with their English muffin recipe, Fred used a large tin can to contain the dough and baked it on a fiery hot griddle. The result was a muffin nearly twice the size of ordinary English muffins, standing two inches high. When split open and toasted, the muffin developed a uniquely textured surface filled with deep nooks and crannies to perfectly soak up butter and jam.

These super-thick English muffins astounded the public. There wasn’t — and still isn’t — anything else like them. Despite the awe they warranted, they remained a Midwestern secret until 1975. That year, Fred’s grandson, also named Fred, rebranded the business as a mail-order bakery called Wolferman’s Original English Muffin Company to compete with the rise of big box grocery stores. Fred Jr.’s decision turned Wolferman’s name and its specialty English muffins into national sensations. 

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A sampling of fine baked goods from Wolferman’s Bakery.

Esquire magazine dubbed the super-thick English muffins as the “Arnold Schwarzenegger of breads.” USA Today claimed they were “the Rambo of English muffins.” Multiple publications recognized these toasty goodies as favorites of Bob Hope, Walter Cronkite, Calvin Trillin, and President Gerald Ford. Wolferman’s® English muffins, then available in super-thick, traditional, and mini sizes, were all-American favorites. It was an easy decision for Harry & David to acquire the mail-order bakery in 2008, where business still flourishes today. 

Almost 150 years later…

Wolferman’s Bakery continues to hold the same high standards and innovative fire that fueled Louis and Fred over a century ago. Today, what was a grand, six-story spectacle of a grocery store is part of an expansive website filled with beautiful blooms, personalized gifts, and a wide variety of gourmet foods that makes up the 1-800-Flowers.com family of brands. Our goal, however, remains the same as our founders — to provide only the best for our customers.

Wake up with Wolferman’s

Wolferman’s Bakery may be most known for its super-thick English muffins, but it’s become the go-to source for sending breakfast lovers all kinds of morning treats, from other breads and sweet pastries to breakfast meats and complete brunches. Here are some of our favorites.

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