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People Top 5
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- March 17, 1986
- Vol. 25
- No. 11
Fred Wolferman's Kansas City Coffers Are Filled with Dough Thanks to His Mega-Muffins
It all started back in 1910 when Grandpa Wolferman's baker poured a mixture consisting largely of flour, water, yeast and salt into tuna fish cans. "The cans had their tops and bottoms cut out," explains Fred, "and the muffins were cooked on a hamburger grill." The muffins were sold, along with specialty items like chocolate-covered grasshoppers, in a chain of grocery stores owned by the Wolfermans. Although the last of the seven-store chain was forced to close down in 1972, the victim of supermarket efficiency, the mega-muffin lived on, at first just locally.
Wolferman, 41, an only child who studied history at Yale, was a Kansas City real estate broker until he went into the muffin biz full time 10 years ago. In his factory eight bakers turn out some 625,000 muffins a month (in five flavors, including blueberry and Cheddar cheese); packages of four sell for as much as $2.25 in trendy places like Bloomingdale's. Though his mail-order catalog also lists teas and marmalades, the muffins, which bring in $1.5 million a year, form the cornerstone of Wolferman's business.
Wolferman loves to rhapsodize on the beauty of his product, which he eats every other day or so. "The holes don't have a shotgun pattern," he boasts. "When you split them for toasting, you get peaks and valleys and the points get real crisp. Butter goes down the holes and gives them a completely different texture." As for the competition, Wolferman has nothing but disdain. Says he: "They're all midgets."
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