Roman Meal Wasn't Built in a Day

Bread was the Matthaei family’s calling when they opened a bakery in Marburg, Germany, in 1686. In 1872, master baker Henry Matthaei moved to Kansas City where he opened a bakery. And, following family tradition, his son, William, also became a master baker.

When the Kansas City bakery merged with others, William struck out on his own — moving to Tacoma, Washington. There he built a bakery that eventually became the most dominant in Southwest Washington. Around 1912, an ailing physician named Robert Jackson moved from Victoria, British Columbia, to Tacoma to seek medical care. An avid historian, Dr. Jackson was fascinated with accounts of the legions of ancient Rome. He discovered that on a daily ration of two pounds of wheat or rye, these foot soldiers had the strength and stamina to conquer the world.

Following the example of these early empire builders, he set out to improve his health by modifying his diet and conditioning his body, so based on the early diet of the Roman legionnaires, he developed Dr. Jackson’s Roman Health Meal. It was a hot breakfast cereal of whole grain wheat, rye, bran, and flaxseed. Not only did it correct his vitamin and mineral deficiency, but the cereal provided an effective prescription for many of his patients.

The demand became so great, Dr. Jackson had to set up a small factory in Tacoma just to keep up. In 1927, William Matthaei purchased the Roman Meal Company from Dr. Jackson, keeping its headquarters in Tacoma. Combining his baking skills with Dr. Jackson’s formulation, William Matthaei developed Roman Meal bread with its outstanding quality and nutritional value. Since then, people across the nation—and the world—have become familiar with Roman Meal.

In 2015, the Roman Meal Company sold the Roman Meal trademark for breads and buns in the U.S. and its territories, and in Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, and the Bahamas to Flowers Foods in Thomasville, Georgia. Flowers Foods has been a licensed baker of Roman Meal for more than 40 years.

The Roman Meal Company in Tacoma today is still owned and run by the Matthaei family. Its focus is on licensing Roman Meal bread and buns in Hawaii and Guam and building the brand for other Roman Meal products in Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia.