September 14, 1897
|Died||June 1, 1967 (aged 69)|
|Other names||Margaret Fogarty, Margaret Fogarty Rudkin|
|Known for||Founder of Pepperidge Farm, First woman as member of the board of director at Campbell Soup Company.|
|Spouse||Henry Albert Rudkin|
On September 14, 1897, Rudkin was born as Margaret Loreta Fogarty in Manhattan, New York City, New York. Rudkin's parents were Joseph J Fogarty, an Irish clerk, and Margaret Healy. Rudkin was the eldest of her four siblings. Rudkin had reddish hair and green eyes. Rudkin learned cooking from her grandmother, who started her off with cakes and biscuits. At 12, Rudkin moved to Long Island. Rudkin graduated valedictorian from her high school.
Rudkin started her career as a bank teller. In 1919, Rudkin worked at McClure Jones and Co., where she met her future husband, Henry Albert Rudkin, a stock broker.
In 1926, the two purchased land in Fairfield, Connecticut, built a home and called the estate Pepperidge Farm after the pepperidge tree "Nyssa sylvatica". Although fairly well off, they suffered somewhat during the Great Depression and made ends meet by selling apples and turkeys.
Margaret Rudkin was inspired to found Pepperidge Farm due to her son Mark's asthma. His reactions to preservatives and artificial ingredients prevented him from eating commercially prepared bread. She created her first product, a whole wheat bread, and offered it to the local doctor, who immediately ordered it to sell to his patients. Rudkin was soon selling it in her town and four months later she was selling it in New York with her husband as delivery man. Soon she was distributing her bread (both whole wheat and white loaves) across the country.
Within three years the endeavor had outgrown the small farm bakery and a large commercial bakery was opened in nearby Norwalk on July 4, 1947. Rudkin designed the interior of the plant herself, positioning the equipment to support her manufacturing process. Although World War II caused problems due to rationing, the bakery was producing 50,000 loaves a week in 1948.
By 1950 Rudkin was appearing in commercials on television. At the same time, under her management the bakery was expanding into other products, including the Goldfish snack.
In 1960, Rudkin was invited to speak about manufacturing to MBA students at Harvard by famed professor Georges Doriot. Her 1963 book, The Margaret Rudkin Pepperidge Farm Cookbook, was the first cookbook to become a national bestseller.
In 1961 Rudkin sold the Pepperidge Farm business to the Camden, NJ based Campbell Soup Company for approximately US$28 million and became a director of that company. Rudkin was the first female member of the board of directors at the Campbell Soup Company. Although having sold Pepperidge Farm, Rudkin still ran the company until her retirement in 1966.
On April 8, 1923, Rudkin married Henry Albert Rudkin, a Wall Street stockbroker. They had three sons. In 1929, Rudkin moved to a property named Pepperidge Farm in Fairfield, Connecticut. On April 22, 1966, Rudkin's husband died at the age of 80. On June 1, 1967, Rudkin died of breast cancer at Yale-New Haven hospital in New Haven, Connecticut. She was 69.
- "Our Story - Margaret Rudkin". Pepperidge Farm. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
- Sparks, Edith (2017). Boss Lady: How Three Women Entrepreneurs Built Successful Big Businesses in the Mid-Twentieth Century. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-1469633015.
- "50 Most Powerful Women 2007 - 100 Years of Power Margaret Rudkin (1879-1967)". Retrieved November 28, 2018.
- "Henry Albert Rudkin". Find a Grave. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
- Papazian, Rita (2007). Remembering Fairfield: Famous People & Historic Places. The History Press. p. 70. ISBN 9781596292390. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
- "Mrs. Margaret Rudkin is Dead; Founder of Pepperidge Farm; Home-Baked Business Grew to $50-Million Yearly and National Distribution". nytimes.com. June 2, 1967. Retrieved November 28, 2018.