Iowa is Home to One of the Oldest Bakeries in America
It can't be easy to keep a business running for 124 years, but one Iowa bakery has somehow managed!
A 2021 article from the site Love Food takes a look at some of America's oldest bakeries, and an iconic one from right here in Iowa made the list!
Jaarsma Bakery in Pella was founded by a immigrant from Holland named Harmon Jaarsma all the way back in 1898. According to the bakery's website, "a hundred years ago, Harmon had two brick ovens in the bakery that were fired with wood. After the ashes were brushed out, the bread was put in to bake, followed by the buns, Dutch Letters, cookies, and finally rusks as the ovens slowly cooled down before re-firing."
In 1948, Harmon's son Frank took over and moved the business to its current location at 727 Franklin Street, where he ran the place with the help of his sons Howard and Ralph. Unfortunately, the business burned down in 1973, but it was able to be rebuilt in the same location.
Today, Jaarsma Bakery is owned by Harmon's great-great-granddaughter Lisa and her husband Carl. They have continued the family tradition and still use the original recipes from the Netherlands, although the website says they have "strengthened and improved" them over the last 100+ years.
Jaarsma Bakery is probably best known for their Dutch Letters, but they offer a ton of other items like Dutch Apple Bread, Almond Butter Cake, Stroopwafel, Butter Cookies, Strudel, Puff Pillows, Old-Fashioned Cinnamon Rolls, and more. You can check out the full menu online HERE.
You might be surprised to discover that Pella isn't the only city in Iowa to have a historic bakery! Sykora Bakery right here in Cedar Rapids first opened all the way back in 1903. It has changed hands and names several times over the years, and has gone through quite a few renovations, but it still stands at 73 16th Ave SW in the Czech Village. You can read more about it HERE.
And you can't forget about Hahn's Hearth Over Bakery in Middle Amana. According to the Facebook page, the bakery was originally built in 1864! Jack and Doris Hahn took ownership of the business in 1968, until Jack passed in 1997. Now it's run solely by Doris, who only bakes enough to fill the advance orders she gets. She offers "white and rye breads; cherry, apricot, raspberry and cinnamon filled coffee cakes; raspberry, cherry, and apricot streusels; and her famous cinnamon rolls." You can read more about the historic bakery HERE.