Pepperidge Farm is one of the most well-known baked goods companies in the world, and it all began with a Connecticut housewife named Margaret Rudkin. In the midst of the Great Depression, Rudkin turned a loaf of bread into a booming business.
Inspired by her youngest son’s health impediments, Rudkin set out to provide a healthy alternative to the over-processed breads that dominated grocery store shelves, and then she kept going. She went from baking thousands of loaves out of a barn in her backyard to building her own factory, was a prodigious product developer (think Goldfish and Pepperidge Farm Stuffing), sold her company to the Campbell Soup Company for what would be 237 million in today’s dollars, and became the first woman on its board of directors.
Our guest, historian Edie Sparks, is the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education at the University of the Pacific and the author of Boss Lady: How Three Women Entrepreneurs Built Successful Big Businesses in the Mid-Twentieth Century.