Filed Under Food

Schwebel's

One morning in 1906, in the small kitchen of Dora and Joseph Schwebel in Campbell, Ohio (near Youngstown), the couple was working together to mix, knead and bake the family's famous bread. Known for its outstanding taste, unmatched freshness and superior quality, the bread was carefully baked each day, and delivered -- still warm from the oven -- in wicker laundry baskets to a growing number of customers, including immigrant steel workers from Youngstown and neighboring areas. In just a few short years, the reputation of Schwebel's bread spread far and wide. Its customer list continued to expand, and delivery operations began to rely on horses and wagons instead of wicker baskets.

In 1914, Dora and Joseph entered the world of retail sales by expanding their customer base to "mom and pop" stores. To ensure that fresh bread was in the stores when customers requested it, the couple added more bakers to assist the family and even hired the company's first driver/salesperson to assist with deliveries. The strong economy of the 1920s kept operations moving along, and more people experienced the taste and quality of Schwebel's bread. In 1923, the Schwebels invested $25,000 and built a small bakery -- complete with a store front -- for retail business. The family could bake and deliver 1,000 loaves a day, using six delivery trucks. The future looked bright.

Tragedy struck in 1928, however, when Joseph Schwebel died suddenly, leaving Dora with six children and the family's business to run by herself. During this era, many people believed that the baking business was no place for a woman with young children. Dora Schwebel was told she should sell her bakery and stay home with her children. Instead, she stared down her critics and decided to continue with the business that she and her husband had built. Against all odds, Dora forged ahead to keep her family thriving.

Today, Schwebel Baking Company, still based in Youngstown, is the premier wholesale baking company in the region. However, in recent years the company has consolidated operations to remain competitive. In 2014 the company closed its Cuyahoga Falls plant where this story is mapped. Five years later it closed its Solon plant, leaving plants in Youngstown and Hebron, Ohio, still operating. For more than 110 years after its humble beginnings in a suburban Youngstown kitchen, Schwebel's continues to produce the breads people ask for by name.

Audio

Schwebel's Rap This Schwebel's radio advertisement from the 1990s features a rap about the company's bread. Source: Audio courtesy of Schwebel's
"We Want Schwebel's" Little-known Cleveland songwriter Jim Brickman wrote this jingle for Schwebel's in 1983. Brickman later became a platinum-selling recording artist during the 1990s. Source: Audio courtesy of Schwebel's
Happy the Clown Ad This Schwebel's radio advertisement features Happy the Clown, the company's mascot that Dora Schwebel created in 1932. Source: Audio courtesy of Schwebel's

Images

Production Line, ca. 1940s Schwebel's 18-Cent Bread is readied for shipment in this photograph from the 1940s. Image courtesy of Schwebel's
Mascots Schwebel's Mascots Happy the Clown and Toasti stand with a Schwebel's driver in front of one of the original delivery trucks. Dora Schwebel created Happy the Clown in 1932 to serve as a positive, uplifting symbol during the Great Depression. His familiar face has graced the company's labels ever since. Image courtesy of Schwebel's
Tour, 1951 Community members of all ages visit Schwebel's new, million dollar production facility on Youngstown's Midlothian Boulevard in 1951. Image courtesy of Schwebel's
Dora Schwebel with Eleanor Roosevelt First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (right) chats with Dora Schwebel (seated, at left) while visiting the Schwebel Baking Company during the 1940s. Image courtesy of Schwebel's
Aunt Dora's Bread A photograph of Aunt Dora's Bread, circa 1940s. What does the packaging say about the bread? How does this compare with how food and drinks are advertised today? Image courtesy of Schwebel's
"New Modern Bakery" Schwebel's opened its new million dollar bakery in Youngstown in the 1950s. Dora Schwebel is shown here standing in front of a poster that highlights the company's humble beginnings and includes a picture of her late husband and co-founder Joseph Schwebel. Image courtesy of Schwebel's
Sixteen Cent Toasti-Taste Bread This is an ad for Schwebel's Toasti-Taste bread that appeared in a Sharon, Pennsylvania newspaper during the 1940s. Image courtesy of Schwebel's
Delivery Trucks, ca. 1930s Delivery drivers pose with Schwebel's fleet of delivery trucks in the 1930s. Before trucks were used, horse-drawn carriages delivered bread to customers. Image courtesy of Schwebel's

Location

1950 Newberry St, Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44221 | The Schwebel's plant closed and is now a self-storage facility.

Metadata

Gail Greenberg and Diane Rolfe, “Schwebel's,” Cleveland Historical, accessed June 28, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/272.