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The History of Fig Newtons

Fig Newtons were invented in the 1890s at the Kennedy Biscuit Works in the Boston area. James Hazen, the company’s plant manager, routinely named products after the surrounding towns, so Fig Newtons are actually named after Newton, Massachusetts. Their invention was made possible due to the invention of the cookie extrusion press, which was created in 1891 by Henry Mitchell, a Kennedy Biscuit Company employee. There is some debate over who is responsible for creating the Fig Newton recipe. Some credit Philadelphia businessman Charles M. Roser while others credit Henry Mitchell. We do know that in 1892, the recipe was patented by Mitchell. Through various buyouts and mergers, Fig Newtons eventually became the property of The National Biscuit Company, which became Nabisco in 1941. Interestingly, the concept of the fig roll existed long before Fig Newtons, dating back to Victorian England and even further back to medieval tables in the Arab world. Fig Newtons were considered more of a cake than a cookie until the 1980s, but in the early 1990s, they became the third-best-selling cookie in America. In 2012, Nabisco rebranded the product to “Newton” in an attempt to modernize the brand and draw attention to flavors beyond fig. Today, they may be less popular than they once were, but these classics remain a favorite in the cookie aisle for many people.

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