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Diehl's Baking

Family-owned bakery touted benefits of breads with innovative advertising

Diehl’s Bakery, originally located at 319 Center Avenue, was established on May 20, 1910 by Philip Diehl and his son. From its opening, the bakery boasted of the purity of its products and the modernity of its machinery. Huge ovens measuring 14' x 16' baked 300 loaves at once, producing 12,000 loaves a day. A cookie machine produced "any style" cookie at the rate of 150 per minute.


Diehl's Bakery emphasized their highly sanitary facilities through transparency - they encouraged patrons to stop by anytime and inspect. This tradition continued even when Diehl furthered his investment with the opening of a multi-story plant in 1914, on the corner of Center and Lookout (South Monroe) Avenues. On the evening of its grand opening, guests were delighted to receive a tour of the plant, and personally witnessed each step of the bread-making process.


The bakery did not miss a beat during World War I; they ran ads in the newspaper showing their support for the War Savings Stamps that were issued by the United States Treasury to garner funds for the war. With Diehl’s helping hand, Butler County sold the most stamps of any county in the state, and Butler received a commendation for its efforts.


Everyone has heard the saying “the best thing since sliced bread.” Although this phrase did not originate from Diehl’s Bakery, the company jumped at the chance to incorporate its new, modern “Ready Sliced Bread” in 1929, making it the only seller of this bread variety in Butler County. Ready Sliced was only one of at least a dozen different types of bread the bakery offered to its customers


Diehl’s Bakery had a fresh, original take on advertising that could be neither matched nor surpassed. In the early years, the newspaper advertisements for the bakery were straightforward and informative, but as the years passed, new and creative strategies to rally customers emerged. In the 1930s, if a patron collected a certain number of bread wrappers they could turn them in for a prize. The bakery awarded dolls, roller skates, and lanterns for ten, fifty, and sixty bread wrappers respectively. Diehl’s appealed to patriotism as well, with a bread named after famous flag-sewer Betsy Ross with the slogan, “made with a mother’s care.” A picture of Abraham Lincoln was used to compare the honesty of the president with that of the bread from Diehl’s.


Diehl’s also touted the health benefits of its breads, claiming that its "Sanitarium Gluten Bread" was an excellent option for those suffering from obesity, diabetes, and anemia. The “Honey Krushed Bread” was said to ease constipation. In one promotional newspaper piece, an enthusiastic customer raved about its benefits: “We have three children in our home and it has always been a hard job to get them to let me give them a laxative or purgative. Many times when they wouldn’t play and moped around I was at a loss to know what to do. Thanks to your Honey Krushed Wheat Bread I now keep them regular and happy without the use of any cathartic.”


In 1949, Ralph Chantler purchased the bakery and renamed it Chantler Baking Company, which continued to operate until the late 1960s. By that time, large-scale industrial bakeries and nationwide shipping innovations made it difficult for local bakeries to remain competitive in the grocery market. Even though the building was torn down in 2011 due to dilapidation, the memories of the sweet aroma of bread on Center Avenue live on for many long-time Butler residents.

Images

Diehl Baking Company building Date unknown Source: Courtesy of Butler County Historical Society
Diehl Baking Company employees Employees pose outside the Diehl Baking Company building. The photo appears to include managerial staff, bakers, and delivery drivers. Source: By permission of John W. Burkert Creator: unknown Date: 1935
Promotional sign Advertising sign to be displayed in stores selling Diehl's bread Source: Courtesy of Butler County Historical Society Date: Date unknown
Newspaper advertisement Pre-sliced bread was a major innovation when it first became commercially available in 1928 - and consumers quickly embraced it. The text of this ad hails it as "the greatest single development in the entire history of the Baking Industry" Source: Butler Eagle Date: c.1930
Diehl's newspaper advertisement Much like cereal companies, bakeries often included inexpensive giveaway items in their products to differentiate their product from competitors Date: unknown; c. 1925

Location

Metadata

Amanda Sekanic, “Diehl's Baking,” Butler County Historical, accessed March 3, 2024, http://butlerhistorical.org/items/show/21.