Yes Virginia, there was a Thomas in English Muffins / an oven grows in Chelsea
Careful what renovation projects you undertake
A “self-proclaimed Mr. Fixit”, Mike Kinnane, took down part of a basement wall on 20th Street around the corner from 9th Avenue, and discovered a 20 ft x 15 ft brick oven that had been used (really!) by the original Thomas of Thomas’s English Muffins.
“Mr. [Samuel Bath] Thomas left England in 1874, carrying a recipe for a muffin that more than a century later still carries his name.
He set up shop in 1880, building his first bakery at 163 Ninth Avenue, just around the corner from what is now 337 West 20th Street, the building where Mr. Kinnane and Ms. McInerney bought an apartment a year ago.
The popularity of Thomas’ English Muffins soared quickly as demand built as far away as the Bronx and Queens [that far!], according to George Weston Bakeries, the company that now owns the brand. To increase production and keep up with demand, Mr. Thomas opened a second bakery, perhaps early in the last century, on West 20th Street, right around the corner from the first.”
That second bakery is what Mr. Kinnane discovered. This being New York, a city in which you can find pretty much any service at any time, they found an urban archeologist , who will continue the research.
No word on whether Geraldo Rivera will search for Betty Crocker’s kitchen….
© Sandy Mattingly 2006
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