London celebrations

London celebrates the sweet history of honey bread with a record attempt | Community

With around 10 million honey buns baked in London a week and providing hundreds of jobs, it’s only fitting that the city hold a special day to honor the venerable sweet treat.

Honey Bun Day will be held in central London on Saturday 8 October to celebrate the thousands of jobs created by honey bread since 1953. Special events will include the Honey Bun Redbud Ride, Taste the Buns Honey Bun Food Challenge and Cidernight at the Market.

The highlight of the day will be an attempt to set a record for the most people eating honey bread at the same time. (For specific event information, go to honeybunday.com).

Flowers Bakery of London, a division of Flowers Foods, is one of the sponsors of Honey Bun Day, along with City of London Tourism, London-Laurel County Tourism and London Downtown.

Flowers employs more than 600 people at its Fourth Street bakery and produces nearly 3 million pounds of honey buns, donuts, donut sticks and fried pies each week on nine production lines, the company said. Together, its three honey bun lines can produce nearly 60,000 honey buns per hour, or about 10 million honey buns per week. It also produces a lot of donuts – around 336,000 per hour when its four donut lines are running at capacity.

It’s no surprise, then, that the bakery claims that if every item made in a week were put together end to end, the candy line would stretch 2,559 miles – more than the distance between Jacksonville, Florida, and San Diego, California. .

The sweet smell of Flowers’ honey rolls and other baked goods often envelops central London, providing a sensory connection to a history that dates back to the 1920s and the Griffin family.

Louis Griffin owned a restaurant in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who asked his mother, Mary Ellen Griffin, to bake small pies to supplement his menu. The pies were so popular at the restaurant that in 1926 Griffin sold the restaurant, moved his family to Greensboro, North Carolina, and began making small fried pies in his own kitchen, selling them to local restaurants. . In 1929, Griffin Baking Company was born.

Then Nelson Griffin, Louis’ eldest son, joined the business and began to expand sales of the fried pies. After World War II, Nelson Griffin started his own business in Charleston, West Virginia, making the popular fried pies and other items.

“My father was a builder and a dreamer. He loved breaking into new territories and developing new products,” said Nelson Griffin Jr. from London.

Nelson Griffin’s brother-in-law, William Brooks, joined the business in 1951 and the bakery expanded to seven cities in six states, including Griffin Pie Company in London in 1953.

“One of my dad’s talents was to surround himself with good people,” Nelson Jr. said. “I couldn’t name all the people who helped make it what it became.”

But in 1971, tragedy struck Griffin Pie when a fire destroyed the Southern US 25 bakery downstairs from the new Laurel County High School.

Bob Kidd, Brooks’ son-in-law, had joined the business in 1964 and was in the process of moving his family to London. He said they were devastated when they arrived in town and saw the still-smoldering bakery. Despite the fire, the family still completed the move to London.

The Laurel County community rallied around Griffin Pie. Local businessmen contributed $25,000 and a small business loan enabled the company to purchase the vacant Sterling Hardware building on Fourth Street. It was big enough to consolidate all the bakeries into one.

“What we saw as the end of the world come to town that day turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to Griffin Pie,” Kidd said. “Because it allowed Nelson and Bill to be in the same place and run the business from the same place. There was a synergy to bring everyone together in one place. The best years of the business were this issues.

By 1983, when acquired by Flowers Industries, Griffin Pie Company was distributing honey rolls and other products in approximately 30 states.

Kidd and Nelson Griffin Jr. said Griffin Pie and the community grew up together.

“The relationship with people here in London – people have made our business successful.” Kidd said. “The work ethic of the people of Laurel County is phenomenal. In turn, the business has improved people’s lives. »

So, who created the first honey bread? According to the story, it was Louis Griffin’s brother, Howard Griffin, who developed the first honey bread in 1954, and it’s been a bestseller ever since.

“In the early 1950s, they were making cinnamon rolls,” Nelson Jr. said. “From there, he added honey to the ingredients and eventually developed the first commercial honey roll.”

The rich history of honey bread and the Griffin family will be celebrated in London on Saturday 8 October.