Mondelez, the $35 billion (yearly sales) food giant that makes Oreo cookies, Ritz crackers, Cadbury candies, Trident gum and other brands, last week shut its often-fragrant landmark bakery at Roosevelt Blvd. and Byberry Rd. and idling the last of 350 workers who baked its products under the Nabisco, Standard Brands and Kraft corporate labels; as well as drivers and other workers, not Mondelez employees, whose jobs depended on the plant.
Mondelez ceased production last week; crews are still cleaning and closing the facility, and the company "is actively trying to sell" the plant, company spokesperson Tracy Mihaz told me.
Mondelez told me last year it was moving the work to more-modern plants in Fair Lawn, N.J. and Richmond, Va. (corrected). But former Philadelphia employees like retired baker Tom Campeggio, of Horsham, say they suspect the company will eventually shift more U.S. production to a government-subsidized, largely-automated, multimillion-dollar facility in Monterrey, Mexico, where workers earn less than the $24 an hour in pay and benefits the company contracted in Philadelphia. He's glad he was able to retire in 2013, after 43 years on the line, with his pension from the Bakery, Tobacco and Confectionary Workers union.
"I never will forget opening the car windows to enjoy that aroma" that surrounded the plant when cookies were baking, said Len Messinger, a Northeast Philadelphia native who relocated to Los Angeles years ago. Messinger had the same question current neighbors are wondering: Will another employer take over the 50+year old, now-vacant plant?