Documents regarding the 1950s expansion of a Toronto baking factory and general production operations from Nabisco Director of Packaging, Herman L. Dobson
The National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) bought out Canada’s largest biscuit producer, Christie, Brown & Company in 1928–by 1948, they had outgrown the original company’s facilities and established a new factory on Lake Shore Blvd in Etobicoke. Even the new facility struggled to meet growing postwar consumer cookie demand. Herman L. Dobson, then a manager of the Production Department in the Packaging Division in New York, was tasked with overseeing major changes to the production equipment and practices in the 1950s. The majority of the documents relate to this overhaul and the ongoing considerations made in response to changing technology and workplace conditions–from the specs for machinery and factory organization to the production schedule adjustments made on account of the perilous heat of products coming out of the oven and changes in laws regarding women workers and safety during third shift.
The very serious tone of the documents makes a pleasant juxtaposition with the inherently playful matter of baked goods–delight in terms like “Legends in Biscuit” and official advisories, like “The Baking Department advises that VANILLA WAFERS cannot be dumped into bulk conveyors…” and “We have the following bundler available for your Cheese Nip production…” Barnum Animal Crackers, Fig Newtons, Lorna Doones, Cameos and Date Lunch biscuits are among the recurring subjects of the 50+ assorted notes, sketches, letters and memos.
Overview of contents:
- Circulars and informational material from machinery manufacturers including Doughboy Industries; Forgrove Machinery Co.; Baker Perkins, Ltd.; and J. L. Ferguson Co.
- Prospectus/spec sheet for the “Model 4. Loose Biscuit Wrapping in Small Packets,” illustrated with schematics and 2 photos, plus loose 6.5x8.5-inch original prints of the photos
- 7 original 8x10 glamour shots of production machinery, including the J. L. Ferguson Co. “Packomatic”, shown with Wheaties and Soap Flakes boxes in the making.
- 3 folded box printing templates
- 2 very large (34x22) and several slightly smaller floorplans of the factory packaging layout
- Small plans for cookie-specific packaging stations
- A heap of handwritten notes and sketches, including stick-figure schematics
- Correspondence regarding machinery requisitions and spec changes
- Production reports (crunching the cookie numbers) regarding bakery output, costs, etc
- Dobson’s 1962 patent for a plastic packaging tray formed for an assorted cookie variety pack