A Brief History of Martin’s as Told by Recipes
April 12, 2021
10 min. read
Ever since Martin’s co-founder Lois Martin created her very own cloverleaf potato roll in the 1950s, original recipes have been a core part of the Martin’s business. From the beginning days of curating Martin’s original roll and bread recipes to the creative breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes we now cook every week in our kitchen—there’s something special about letting your culinary creativity run to make something brand new.
That’s why—when we decided that we wanted to share with you a little refresher blog about the history of our company—we knew it had to include plenty of delicious recipe inspiration for you to try. Continue reading below to hear how each different recipe fits into the Martin’s Famous Potato Rolls and Bread company history!
1955- Farmer’s Markets
The wide-reaching Martin’s company we know and love today had a very humble beginning: Lloyd and Lois Martin baking pastries in their single-car garage in Chambersburg, PA. The pair worked five days a week baking with their son, James (our current president!), and then transported these tasty treats from their bakery to farmer’s markets in Carlisle, PA, every Saturday morning.
Here, they sold a select number of homemade goodies (as seen in the photo above), including a potato roll product similar to what we call “Dinner Rolls” today! If you have some Martin’s Dinner Rolls in your house (or if you don’t, find out where you can buy them here), try your hand at some of these recipes.
1968-1986- Martin’s Family Restaurant
Fast forward a few years—the Martin’s tiny baking facility reached full capacity and the Martins needed to move into a bigger bakery to handle larger orders. So, they moved their business into what would soon become Martin’s Family Restaurant—conveniently located near the very center of town and next to two popular travel routes. In the back of this building, they continued baking pastries, including potato rolls and bread. In the front, they served local and traveling customers in their diner-style restaurant.
We’ve recreated two famous dishes from the old Martin’s Family Restaurant menu: the Big Marty Burger and the Cheese Boat. Snag the recipes below and try them for yourself!
1968-1973- Route Sales Expansion
Meanwhile, during the beginning years of Martin’s Family Restaurant, roll and bread sales to local grocery stores really began to ramp up. During this time, Martin’s started supplying products to larger Pennsylvania grocery chains like Giant and A&P and purchased its first fleet of route delivery trucks (above).
Put yourself in the shoes of one of Martin’s very first route delivery drivers with these recipes perfect for people on-the-go!
1978- Opening of the Chambersburg Bakery
Believe it or not, it wasn’t too long after Martin’s grew out of its first bakery until they had to expand yet again into the location of our current Chambersburg bakery! Of course, Martin’s has expanded this bakery multiple times since 1978.
This construction project was certainly one of the most significant changes to Martin’s business structure, and it quickly allowed the business to flourish and bake our famous bread and rolls for even more and larger retail locations—all from our Pennsylvania Dutch hometown of Chambersburg.
If you’re not from around here (or even if you are!), one of the best ways to experience the Pennsylvania Dutch culture is through food. We recommend browsing the delicious suggestions in our Pennsylvania Dutch Cuisine Blog!
1980- Geographic Expansion to New York, NY
Martin’s first significant geographic expansion was to New York City in 1980. Once Martin’s products hit the grocery store shelves, it didn’t take long before they became a hit in the Big Apple! Still today, New York is home to many Martin’s fans and customers, including Gotham Burger Social Club and Black Tap NYC.
Naturally, we chose several of our best New York-inspired recipes to honor this part of our history. Check them out!
1994- NEW PRODUCT: Martin’s Potato Bread
In this year, Martin’s added the now-beloved Martin’s Potato Bread to its lineup of fresh-baked products by tweaking our classic potato roll recipe into a sliced loaf bread. Now, Martin’s Potato Bread is one of our top 5 best-selling products in retail stores!
Try a few of these recipes with Martin’s Potato Bread and let us know what you think!
1999- Geographic Expansion to Florida
Almost 20 years after expanding beyond Pennsylvania into the New York area, Martin’s took an even bigger leap into the warm Sunshine State of Florida! Like in New York, Martin’s products quickly grew in popularity and we soon knew we would need to start baking products closer to this area… but we’ll get to that later.
As it is a very popular sandwich in Florida, this Cubano is a great way to celebrate this particular Martin’s milestone:
2003- NEW PRODUCT: 100% Whole Wheat Potato Bread
In 2003, Martin’s introduced its very first whole wheat product: 100% Whole Wheat Potato Bread! This bread is known for being a great combination of healthful whole wheat and the soft and moist texture of potato bread. Try it for yourself with these recipes!
2007- Opening of Valdosta Bakery
Did you know Martin’s has two bakeries? Our second facility in Valdosta, GA, was built in 2007 and has two production lines (smaller than our Chambersburg bakery, which currently has four). Much of our internationally shipped product is baked here in Valdosta. This bakery also supplies products for our newest market—Texas!
This culinary tour is headed to Georgia with these southern-inspired recipes!
2011- Geographic Expansion to Chicago
With Martin’s Valdosta bakery now helping to bake Martin’s Rolls and Bread in the south, the Chambersburg bakery started producing product for our first Midwest expansion: Chicago! Now, we can deliver fresh bread and rolls to several grocery stores and restaurants, including Jewel Osco, Mariano’s Fresh Market, and Eleven City Diner.
Try these classic Chicago-style recipes on Martin’s rolls and bread:
2011-Expansion to Frozen Food Service Industry
Ten years ago, Martin’s products were introduced to the frozen food service industry, where they could be sold wholesale and distributed to restaurants nationwide for use on their menus. Since then, Martin’s Potato Rolls have found their way to not only the other side of the country, but to numerous international locations, such as Argentina, the EU, and even Australia, mate!
Below we’ve listed a few how-to recipes made by some of the chefs that use Martin’s Potato Rolls. But, really, for the best Martin’s food service experience, we recommend going and trying menu items straight from the chefs themselves!
Alex Floethe’s Bacon Mac N Cheesiest Burger
Matt Abdoo’s Pig Beach Smash Burger
2012- NEW PRODUCT: Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Potato Bread
Just one year later, in 2012, we returned to our pastry roots—so to speak—and launched our first sweet swirl bread, Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Potato Bread. Though it started out in more of a subtle pale-purple packaging, you now know it as the bread in the bright-purple, hard-to-miss bag. And, a few years later, there would be a few more sweet loaves in bright packages…
Since this product was introduced, we’ve created a plethora of recipes with it—from desserts to savory sandwiches. Try a few of our suggestions below:
2013- Geographic Expansion to Louisiana/Alabama
As the Martin’s food service and retail business grew in the early 2010s, our products soon ended up in states a little further off the East Coast, like Louisiana and Alabama. And, we’re still expanding this area! In fact, Martin’s products just entered grocery stores in Birmingham only a few months ago!
If you’re a Martin’s fan in this area, check out our website to find a store near you, and then try out these New Orleans-inspired regional recipes!
2015- Launch of the New www.potatorolls.com
In 2015, the Martin’s business had grown to the point where we needed an efficient way to share information with our customers and fans. So, with the help of a local website design company, Martin’s revamped www.potatorolls.com into an organized information hub for recipes, blog posts, store locator, and more! In fact, we just redesigned this website again a few months ago, so it’s looking as fresh and new as ever.
With this new website came the ability to track online statistics (like what recipe our fans enjoy the most!). By far, our most visited recipe is Grandma’s Old-Fashioned French Toast. Check it out below!
2015- Opening of New Corporate Office Building
For many years, Martin’s corporate employees (think: Sales, Marketing, etc.) were located in an office building several miles away from the bakery facility. In 2015, that all changed with the construction and opening of a brand new office building!
Are you a corporate employee for a business (or do you just want some great on-the-go lunch hacks)? Check out this great packed lunch idea:
2016- Geographic Expansion to Rochester/Buffalo
In 2016, our business ventured beyond the Big Apple in New York to upstate areas like Rochester and Buffalo. So, of course, to mark this milestone in our history, we’ve got to suggest one of our many delicious buffalo chicken recipes!
2017- Geographic Expansion to Nashville
Part of Martin’s expansion efforts included the iconic music city of Nashville, TN! Though we haven’t yet made it to too many other Tennessee cities, we’re glad to be available to the city of the original hot chicken sandwich (recipe idea below)!
Image from www.insidehook.com
2017- NEW PRODUCT: Old-Fashioned Real Butter Bread
In the same year as Martin’s retail expansion to Nashville, a brand new product was added to the Martin’s bread family: Martin’s Old-Fashioned Real Butter Bread! This product is made with no oils or shortenings besides real butter.
We recommend trying it in one of these recipes!
2019- NEW PRODUCT: Three New Swirl Breads
Two years ago, three brand new, brightly-colored packages joined the lineup of Martin’s Swirl Bread:
Cinnamon-Raisin Butter Bread, Maple Brown Sugar Swirl Potato Bread, and Cinnamon-Sugar Swirl Potato Bread.
Check out these decadent recipes—each one a perfect excuse to try all of Martin’s Swirl Breads!
Maple Brown Sugar Swirl Potato Bread
Cinnamon-Sugar Swirl Potato Bread
*Note: Martin’s Cinnamon-Raisin Butter Bread has been discontinued. We recommend substituting this product with Martin’s Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Potato Bread, or with one of our other Swirl Bread products.
2020- Geographic Expansions to Texas and Canada
The year 2020 sure did interrupt many plans for businesses and individuals alike. But, Martin’s was fortunate to still see two new geographic retail expansions in this year: Texas (Houston, Austin, San Antonio) and Canada.
Check out these recipes dedicated to each of these areas of expansion:
Featured Recipe: Poutine Burger
This Canadian-original mixture of gravy, cheese curds, and French fries is a classic delight on its own. But, combined with a thick, seasoned burger patty cooked to perfection on a Martin’s Potato Roll… this recipe is a true umami explosion and a delicious tribute to Martin’s recent expansion to southern Canada!
These recent geographic expansions and business milestones will not be the last for Martin’s Famous Potato Rolls and Bread! We are always considering new markets and areas to expand to, and eventually, we’d love to see Martin’s available in stores all across the country.
We’d love for you to follow with us as we continue the Martin’s history story into the future! In fact, just by reading this blog and being a fan of Martin’s, you are a part of our history. So, thank you!
As always, follow us on social media for the latest updates and happenings around Martin’s!
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