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Hentz Bakery

Former Hentz Bakery made its name
with Blue Ribbon Bread

Equipment to be sold at July auction

By Michelle Hicks
Contributing Writer

(July 2005) – For years, the hot spot in downtown Madison, Ind., for bread and other baked goods was the Hentz Bakery at 316 Mulberry Street. Charles A. and Minnie Hentz opened the Hentz Bakery after they were married in 1912. Charles was a master baker whose innovative techniques and state of the art equipment allowed him to stay competitive in the baking industry.

Chris and Barbara Hentz

Photo by Michelle Hicks

Chris and Barbara Hentz pose at the former Hentz Bakery on Mulberry Street in Madison. They plan to sell the bakery equipment but not the building.

His key product, Blue Ribbon Bread, was produced in mass quantities, and he purchased one of the first manufactured bread slicing machines for use in his bakery.
On July 23, equipment from this historic bakery will be sold at an auction by the Sara Minor Auction Service to be held at the bakery building. With it will go a piece of Madison’s past.
The Hentz had three children and the family lived above the bakery until they moved to third street in the early 1940s. Charles’ daughter, Martha Hoefling, who still resides in the Hentz family home on Third Street, said Charles closed the bakery at that time for health reasons.
Fortunately, an interest in baking ran in the family. When Charles’ son, Charles P. Hentz (Charlie), returned from U.S. Marine Corps service during World War II, he and his wife Marcia re-opened the bakery in 1946. The first item of business; their wedding cake. Charlie was no stranger to the baking business. He began working for his father in the bakery at age 8 and continued to work for him until he departed for the Marine Corps.

Charlie and Marcie Hentz

Photo provided by the Hentz family

Charlie and Marcie Hentz
serving customers in 1946.

According to Charlie’s son, Chris Hentz, Charlie shared his father’s innovative nature and drive to maximize productivity and quality. The Hentz bakers had “very high standards,” said Chris Hentz, 55. Charlie’s strong work ethic was instilled in his eight children. Each child worked in the bakery from age 8 until 18, and each child had special duties, depending on their age. Chris Hentz said that a special duty reserved to the youngest bakery worker was to “carry the top tier of the wedding cakes.” Charlie’s mother, Minnie, made each of his children their own apron from recycled cotton flour sacks.
Hentz family members weren’t the only bakery workers. The Hentz Bakery continuously employed 15 to 20 workers, and the family took good care of the people in its employ. Minnie Hentz cooked full meals for the employees in the evenings before they began their all night baking shifts.
Like his father, Charlie lived with his family above the bakery. The family remained there until 1955, when they bought a home on Telegraph Hill. Charlie continued to operate the Hentz Bakery until 1980, when its doors were permanently closed. Charlie’s family members aren’t sure why he decided to close the bakery when he did, but his sister Martha guessed that “he just retired.” She added that Charlie “loved his family very much” and probably just wanted to spend more time with them.
The building is now owned by Chris and Barbara Hentz, who bought the building from Chris’ mother in 1992. Caleb and Sarah Schmidtlapp constructed the building in the early 19th century and, according to Chris and Barbara Hentz, who have studied the history of the building and the site extensively, it continually housed a bakery for nearly two centuries. Barbara said that prior to the construction of the building, a bakery was located on the site under a tarpaulin and rough lumber structure.
The Hentzes are undecided about future plans for the Hentz Bakery building, but they intend to continue their efforts to preserve the history of the building and the bakery operations. These efforts include meticulous documentation of photographs, equipment and business records.

Hentz Bakery Truck

Photos provided by the Hentz family

Pictured above is the
Hentz Bakery’s delivery truck.

The Hentz Bakery is an important piece of Madison’s rich history. Generations of families were raised on Blue Ribbon Bread, and many young couples began their lives together over a piece of wedding cake baked by the Hentz family. Memories of this special bakery will linger for years to come. Even the famous Hentz family doughnut recipe remained alive long after the bakery closed. Chris and Barbara Hentz said Charlie gave his doughnut recipe and equipment to Shawe Memorial High School after the bakery closed, and the equipment and recipe were used by the school to prepare the doughnuts it sold over the Madison Regatta weekend.
Auctioneer Sara Minor said she “has no idea” what kind of crowd to expect at the auction but that commercial bakery owners and museum curators may attend. Bakery equipment to be auctioned includes slicers, baking pans and a high volume cookie maker.

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