Margaret Rudkin (née Fogarty) (September 14, 1897 – June 1, 1967), of Fairfield, Connecticut, was the founder of Pepperidge Farm.
Born in Manhattan, she was taught to cook by her grandmother. Rudkin graduated valedictorian from her high school; afterwards, she worked as a teller in a bank. In 1919, Rudkin got a job with McClure Jones and Co., where she met her future husband, Henry Albert Rudkin.
They were married on April 8, 1923, and together they had three sons. In 1926, the two purchased land in Fairfield, built a home and called the estate Pepperidge Farm after the pepperidge tree "Nyssa sylvatica". Although fairly well off, they suffered somewhat during the Great Depression and made ends meet by selling apples and turkeys.
Margaret was inspired to found Pepperidge Farm due to her son Mark's asthma, whose reactions to preservatives and artificial ingredients prevented him from eating the town's bread.
Rudkin was devastated that her son couldn't enjoy the bread, so she decided she would create a non-allergic bread for him. Bread, being the foundation of Rudkin's family tree, was no secret to Rudkin and within 5 days she created her first product, a whole wheat bread. After offering it to the local doctor, who immediately ordered it to sell to his patients,
Rudkin was soon selling it in her town. Four months later she was selling it in New York with her husband as delivery man. Soon she was distributing her bread (both whole wheat and white loaves) across the country.
Within three years the endeavor had outgrown the small farm bakery and a large commercial bakery was opened in Norwalk on July 4, 1947. Although World War II caused problems due to rationing, the bakery was producing 50,000 loaves a week in 1948.
In 1961 she sold the business to the Campbell Soup Company and became a director of that company. She ran the company until her retirement in 1966. Margaret Rudkin died of breast cancer in 1967 at the age of 69