In 1790, what is now King Arthur Baking Company began its impressive history in Boston as Henry Wood & Company. Wood began importing English-milled flour in the early days of the American Republic. The ink was barely dry on the Constitution, and George Washington was president. The Wood family controlled and grew the company for nearly a century.
In 1870, the Sands family gained overall control of the company. They modified its name to Sands, Taylor, and Wood.
In 1896, the company introduced its new and exceptional product: King Arthur Flour. This new flour was milled from a unique blend of 100 percent hard wheat with no additives needed to enhance its baking qualities or appearance. The name came from a Boston musical based on King Arthur and his mythical kingdom at Camelot.
Name Change and Move
King Arthur Flour became a popular brand among bakers, and the company continued to grow. In 1912, it moved to a new mill in Norwich, Vermont. The company moved to Norwich to take advantage of the abundant waterpower in the area. Its “Camelot” campus remains there to this day.
In the 1970s, King Arthur Flour began to expand its product line beyond flour. It started offering baking mixes, cookbooks, and other baking supplies. The company also began to offer baking classes and workshops.
In 1994, King Arthur Flour went public.
Majority owners Frank and Brinna Sands created an ESOP plan in 1996. This Employee Stock Ownership Plan gradually transferred company control to its employees. The process completed in 2004.This made King Arthur Flour one of the few 100% employee-owned companies in the United States.
Here is a brief history of the ownership of King Arthur Baking Company over time:
1790: Henry Wood starts the ancestral company in Boston, Massachusetts.
1870: Benjamin F. Sands takes over the company and renames it Sands, Taylor & Wood Company.
1895: The company becomes a joint-stock company.
1896: Flour first appears.
1912: The company moves to a new mill in Norwich, Vermont.
1970s: King Arthur begins to expand its product line beyond flour.
1994: The company goes public.
2004: King Arthur Baking Company places control in the hands of its employees in an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP).
Company Names Over Time
The company has gone through a few name changes over the years. Here is a list of its historical names:
Henry Wood & Company (1790–1870)
Sands, Taylor & Wood Company (1870–1896)
King Arthur Flour (1896–present)
Today, King Arthur Flour is a leading supplier of flour, ingredients, baking mixes, cookbooks, and baked goods. The company is committed to providing bakers with the highest quality products and resources. It also supports a number of educational initiatives, including the King Arthur Baking School and the Bake for Good program.
- Year Started: 1790
- Year Ended: 2099
- Origin Of Name: Heroic Theme
- Location Sales: United States
- Brand Name Predecessor: Henry Wood & Company
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: Henry Wood
- Owner While In Use: Henry Wood, Sands Family, its Employees
- Owner Successor: N/A
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: King Arthur Baking Company
- Naics Code: 311211
- Location Headquarters: Norwich, Vermont USA