Kenton’s Tie to the Fig Newton

There has been debate over the years as to who holds the claim for the
invention of the Fig Newton. According to the Nabisco Company the fig
newton was invented by James Henry Mitchell in 1891. Not only did he
invent the cookie itself but he invented the duplex dough-sheeting
machines and funnels that make the jam filled cookies a possibility. The
company would purchase Mitchell’s fig cookie, his machines and his Kennedy
Biscuit Works located outside Newton, MA in 1898. While the Nabisco
Company has maintained this story throughout the years, Hardin County also
has a claim that the Fig Newton was in fact invented here.
Charles Martin Roser, born in Elyria, OH in 1864, owned and operated a
candy and cookie factory in Kenton that was in fact turning out fig
cookies. The story goes that Roser sold the rights to his cookie to
Nabisco for 1 million dollars the equivalent to over 29 million in today’s
money, quite a large sum of money at the time. While Nabisco has for years
has stated that they have no record of this transaction with Roser,
recently they have begin to take into consideration other contributions to
the development of the Fig Newton. A huge merger in 1898 that combined 114
bakeries into what was named the Nabisco Company made it impossible to
give tribute to every individual inventor.
Whether Roser truly invented the Fig Newton or not, it is still a fun
aspect of our county’s history. After selling the rights to his cookie,
Roser and his wife Ruth would move to St. Petersburg, FL where he became
one of the city’s foremost developers and philanthropists. Some of his
projects included Mound Park Hospital’s home for nurses and Mercy Hospital
for black residents. He would also go on to donate land for schools
including 5 acres for Roser Park School. Rose died on April 12, 1937 at
the age of 73.