Kennedy Biscuit factory, 129 Franklin Street (1869-present day as Nabisco)
The Kennedy Biscuit factory has stood here since 1869; it now stands as condominiums that bear the name Kennedy Biscuit Lofts.
Fig Newtons were first made here in 1891 and their shape, taste, and size have not changed since, even as Kennedy Biscuits merged with other bakeries in 1898 to form the National Biscuit Company, which we know as Nabisco, maker of Oreos and other cookies and crackers.
There is some speculation about the naming of the Fig Newton. One theory claims that the man who invented the machinery that makes Fig Newtons was so proud of his work that he named the cookie after Sir Isaac Newton. This is untrue, though. Fig Newtons were named after the nearby town. The original Kennedy Biscuit Company named all of their products after surrounding communities, including cookies and crackers called Shrewsbusy, Harvard and Beacon Hill. The company obviously had strong local ties: Frank A. Kennedy was the first to prepare Boston Baked Beans in hermetically sealed cans.
Though we’ve cleared up the misconception about the name Fig Newton, Nabisco has other brand names of unknown origin. For example, Lorna Doone cookies are only assumed to be named after the Scottish heroine Lorna Doone from R.D. Blackmore’s 1869 novel of the same name. No record exists as to the exact motivation behind the name, but in 1912 when the cookies were introduced, shortbread biscuits were considered a product of Scottish heritage.
Even Nabisco’s most popular cookie, the Oreo, has a little mystery. Oreos were introduced in 1912 and little was written about the naming because Nabisco did not have high hopes for the cookie. Theories for the name include 1) it was inspired by the French word for gold, or, a color used on early package designs 2) it comes from oreo, the greek word for mountain, because the first test cookies were hill shaped.