Back in the Day: WBA's First President

Charles J Kremer - February 26, 1864-October 18, 1933

The late Charles J. Kremer, president of the Wisconsin Association of Master Bakers from 1905-1907 which today is known as the Wisconsin Bakers Association, owned and operated Kremer’s Bakery in Milwaukee, WI prior to becoming a senior food inspector and dairy and food commissioner. It was during this time when Kremer was a food inspector that he got the idea to start a dairy bakery. He wanted the public to see the relationship between the dairy industry and the baking industry and he felt the dairy bakery at the Wisconsin State Fair would be the perfect place to get the message across.

His message stands clear today as it did when he was alive, “We stand for good bakery goods, honorable business methods, clean shops, and living prices.” Cream Puffs were born and the legendary puffs continue to be a tradition at the Wisconsin State Fair today.

Kremer’s son, Philip Kremer later managed the bakery alongside Fred Laufenberg, secretary of the Wisconsin Bakers Association from 1952-1965.

On Saturday, August 14, 2004, the Kremer family was presented with a Hall of Fame plaque and a special inductee plaque to honor the memory of Charles J. Kremer on WBA Day at the Wisconsin State Fair. A duplicate special inductee plaque was made to permanently display at the Dairy Bakery at the Wisconsin State Fair. The WBA hopes to keep the memory of Charles J. Kremer alive for years to come by sharing his story with fairgoers and bakery visitors.

How WBA Started

It all started when Milwaukee area bakers joined forces to become more effective in fighting union efforts toward closed shops. Three far-sighted bakers were the catalysts: Charles Lehman, George Thuring and Joseph Poehlmann. One thing lead to another and on May 11, 1886, the Milwaukee Baecker Master Verein was created. Its motto was “Unity Makes Strength.”

Before long bakers in other parts of the state were facing similar struggles. By 1905, interested bakers and delegates from other communities throughout Wisconsin were ready to meet with the Milwaukee group and talk about a forming a statewide organization.

They set up a meeting, which was held September 14, 1905 at the Republican House in Milwaukee. Both wholesale and retail bakers were involved. After preliminary talks, a constitution similar to that of the national association was adopted, and the Wisconsin Association of Master Bakers was born. The name was changed to Wisconsin Bakers Association when the association incorporated in 1935.

At that same meeting they elected their first officers:

  • President: C. J. Kremer, Milwaukee
  • Vice President: John Weinert, Manitowoc
  • Secretary, J. L. Pofahl, Kenosha
  • Treasurer:  L. F. Kutler, Appleton

The executive committee consisted of the officers, plus O.B. Schulz, Racine, and Paul Colvin, Janesville.

From the beginning, its founders laid a foundation, which gave the association a solid purpose, based on meeting the needs of its members. At the same time, they kept their eyes on the “big picture” in terms of the baking industry in general as well as the governmental, economic and social climate in which they did business.

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The Legendary Cream Puff

In 1924, a unique undertaking was launched – the Dairy Bakery at the Wisconsin State Fair. That was the year the Wisconsin Bakers Association and the State of Wisconsin began their joint venture to establish and operate a bakery using genuine Wisconsin dairy products in front of thousands of observers. It was to be operated on state property -- State Fair Park -- and administered by the Wisconsin Bakers Association. The idea was, and still is, to promote Wisconsin’s dairy products.

That first year, the Dairy Bakery occupied 400 square feet and produced a variety of bakery goods. In 1936, the bakery continued to make a wide assortment of products (34 varieties), and sold 27,108 cream puffs. By 1954, the bakery occupied 3,600 square feet and the product line was more specialized. Cream puffs were emerging as the public’s favorite product – a phenomenon that began during World War II. Because of rationing during World War II, there was a shortage of whipping cream. In fact, the Dairy Bakery was closed in 1944, 1945, and 1946 due to the war. Many people missed being able to indulge themselves in their favorite whipped cream desserts. So when the bakery reopened in 1947, people were delighted they could buy cream puffs at the fair again. And they did! The word spread and the cream puff craze was born.

In 1954 the Dairy Bakery sold 92,160 cream puffs, 13,440 Danish pastries, 6,000 crispies, 2,200 coffee cakes and four varieties of breads. To produce these products the following quantities of dairy products were used: 840 gallons of 32% cream, 205 gallons of whole milk (fluid), 50 pounds of dehydrated cheese, 412 pounds of grade AA butter, 2,540 pounds of whole frozen eggs, 90 pounds of frozen egg yolks and 20 pounds of frozen egg whites. A total of 30 people were employed.

Cream puffs continued to gain in popularity to the point they have become a State Fair tradition in Wisconsin. Many people feel, “You haven’t been to the fair until you’ve had your cream puff.”

To learn more about the Original Cream Puffs produced by the Wisconsin Bakers Association at the Wisconsin State Fair, please visit:

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