It is not readily agreed exactly when or where the bread originated, except it existed before 1850 in Rockport, Massachusetts. It is thought to have come from the local fishing community, but it may have come through the Finnish community of local stonecutters.
Near the turn of the 20th century, it was baked by a man named Baker Knowlton on King Street in Rockport, Massachusetts and delivered in a horse-drawn cart to households by men in blue smocks. In the 1940s, a Rockport restaurant owned by Bill and Melissa Smith called The Blacksmith Shop on Mt. Pleasant St. started baking the bread for their restaurant in a small bakery on Main St. They baked about 80 loaves a day until 1956, when they built a modern $250,000 bakery on Pooles Lane. They had 70 employees and 40 trucks which delivered Anadama bread all over New England.
The Anadama bread center of consumption was in Rockport and next-door Gloucester, Massachusetts. It was commercially available from local bakeries widely on Cape Ann from the early 1900s until 1970, when the Anadama Bread Bakery on Pooles Lane in Rockport closed due to Bill Smith's death. For a number of years, it was baked by small local bakeries at breakfast places on Cape Ann.