History of

McGlynn Bakeries

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By the 1979, there were over 100 stores in the Twin Cities area that had McGlynn's Bakeries products.


McGlynn's entered into the croissant business after National Tea Company merged with Applebaums in 1979. National Tea was a big business in Canada; owned by Loblaws, part of the Weston group. Through Loblaws, Burt and Mike McGlynn met an entrepreneur  named Michael Bregman.  He had opened two restaurants in Toronto and called them Michel's Baguette. He sold croissants, baguettes, soup, quiche, and sandwiches, cafeteria style, in the biggest shopping center in downtown Toronto. It was a very successful business. The Loblaws people convinced him into building a Michel's Baguette in one of their stores. They thought that, instead of a bakery/deli  in the Applebaums stores, McGlynn's  could operate a bakery - Michel's Baguette. Burt and Mike went to Toronto to check it out. Michel's started expanding by opening croissant shops throughout Canada, and it really caught on. Burt and Mike wanted to get Michael to teach them how to equip and operate a Michel's. But Michael wanted too much money to teach McGlynn's the operation, so they did it themselves. Dan McGlynn hired a restaurant person to help open a restaurant, which at the time was a totally foreign business to the McGlynn's. And at the same time we needed to figure out how to bake perfect baguettes and croissants. McGlynn's had hired a baker with a keen knowledge of both - having once worked at a French-style bakery in Minneapolis.


It became obvious that making a perfect baguette was very much based on the right flour, perfect water and the best of ovens. It can be said that while an acceptable baguette was formulated by McGlynn's and marketed, it was never the absolute best. On the other hand, our experienced French bakery baker made the best croissants in town. The trick was going to be how to make thousands of them without compromising quality. At the time, Burt didn't even know how to pronounce "croissant"! But we knew we needed equipment to make them faster.




A Tasty All Butter Croissant

Several of the McGlynn's management team went to Las Vegas for the International  Bakery Exposition in 1980 -virtually  all the latest baking equipment from around the world was on display there. Three small machines for forming croissants were ordered by McGlynn's. They were called CIM 4000 machines and they could cut and roll up to 4,000 croissants per hour - after the painstaking process of preparing the dough with 127 layers of butter and dough. The idea was to put one machine in each of three stores - Midway and Robbinsdale Applebaums' stores, and the third machine in the downtown Minneapolis Dayton's store.


CIM 4000 Croissant Cutting/Rolling Machine

CIM 4000 Machine


Soon thereafter, Mike received a call from a buyer at Perkins restaurants; the St. Paul newspaper had run an article about the best croissants in town. The Perkins buyer asked Mike if McGlynn's would sell them croissants. Mike said, we don't sell wholesale - only retail. Mike did ask the buyer, "However, how many croissants do you need?", the answer was 20,000 per week. Mike said, "I guess we are now in the wholesale frozen bakery business." The three croissant forming machines never made it to the intended stores - they were needed at the main bakery plant!


By May of 1982, the two retail bakery and A Taste of France café combination stores were selling over 14,000 croissants per week. There were two emerging needs - supply croissants to every McGlynn's retail bakery and begin selling croissants wholesale to restaurants and bakeries across the United States.


The croissant craze was starting to grow and McGlynn's wanted a part of it. Some of the best bakery managers and engineers were hired to help us plan for large scale production of croissants. The croissant dough had be handled perfectly from mixer to the delicate folding of the layers of dough and unsalted butter to the cutting of the dough pieces and the proofing (rising) of the croissants and the perfect baking. No one in the world was making croissants as fast as McGlynn's and maintaining superb quality in the perfect flaky, buttery treat. In 1984 McGlynn's added 32,000 sq. ft. to Eden Prairie plant dedicated to croissant, Danish and puff pastry production at a construction cost of about $1.7 million. The plant in Eden Prairie was now over 130,000 sq. ft. and sales were about $22 million.


Groundbreaking of Expansion

Salesmen at Groundbreaking of Expansion

The business was growing so fast, it was managed it as a separate division, named A Taste of France. Most McGlynn's retail stores were selling croissants and sales were growing rapidly to wholesale customers around the country. An outstanding team of salespersons, brokers and agents were quickly assembled and began growing the business. The small croissant machines first purchased were replaced first by two 8,000 per hour croissant machines. Soon after, those were replaced by two 16,000 croissants per hour machines. And those just made traditionally shaped croissants. There was an entire other line used to make millions more filled croissants.


By 1988, A Taste of France was producing over 4 million croissants a week - including all-butter, chocolate, almond and cinnamon as well as cream cheese with cherry, raspberry, strawberry, blueberry or others. Croissant production used 100,000 pounds of unsalted butter and 15,000 gallons of fresh whole milk per week!


Shortly after croissants became popular, a muffin craze started building across America. Almost every bakery sold blueberry muffins, but consumers wanted more variety. Smaller retail bakeries may only sell a few dozen of each variety per day and baking small batches was time consuming. A Taste of France (ATOF) saw an opportunity to supply bakeries with a full variety of muffins beyond blueberry and corn.  And muffin production in large quantities was much easier than croissants. We introduced blueberry, oatbran, corn, chocolate, sour cream, apple cinnamon, raisin bran, orange blossom, raspberry and others. They were sold in frozen batter form as well as baked and frozen in three or more sizes. Towards the end of the craze there was a national obsession with oatbran muffins. It was nearly impossible to purchase enough oats to meet demand. At the height of the muffins craze, sales were in excess of 4 million muffins per week.


With no reason to stop, ATOF also introduced Danish dough, puff pastry dough, turnovers, strudel sticks,  strudel bites, Danish coffee cakes, brownie batters, baked cookies, and frozen cookie pucks. Soon, another production facility was needed as well as increased office space and frozen warehouse. Chanhassen, MN became the new headquarters of McGlynn Bakeries along with 180,000 sq. ft. of production and warehouse.


Chanhassen Plant

Chanhassen Plant

In 1992, with annual sales over $125 million, a decision was made to sell the frozen division of McGlynn Bakeries to Pillsbury including over 1,000 employees (including Mike and Dan McGlynn) and two plants totaling over 400,000 sq. ft. At the time, Pillsbury was owned by Grand Metropolitan, a London based producer of food and spirits. In 2001, Pillsbury was sold to General Mills. 


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