Historic Detroit

NABISCO factory

The National Biscuit Co. was founded in 1898 in New York, borne from the merger of American Biscuit and Manufacturing Co., the United States Baking Co. and the New York Biscuit Co.

In the days before preservatives were perfected, bakeries had to manufacture their goods closer to their customers. National Biscuit had a factory in Detroit on Woodbridge Street, near Woodward. The intersection no longer exists, but would be under Hart Plaza today. Thanks to the booming success of Zu Zu gingersnaps, Anola sugar wafers and Uneeda Biscuit soda crackers — which were advertised to furnish “every element necessary to bodily vigor” — the snackmaker decided to expand in Detroit.

This factory would more than triple its capacity to feed hungry Michiganders. The factory opened in late 1920 on Baltimore Street and what is now the John C. Lodge Freeway service drive. The snackmaker’s staff architect, Albert G. Zimmerman, handled the design.

It featured nine large brick reel ovens that extended through two stories in height and weighed more than 600,000 pounds each.

In 1971, National Biscuit’s corporate name changed to NABISCO, and in 2013, the company’s old Detroit factory was renovated and turned into a U-Haul Moving & Storage facility.