Detroit, Michigan 1923
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Detroit, Michigan — 1923

Theodore Schmidt stood in the kitchen shaking his head in admiration. His wife Wilhelmina had made noodles that morning and his sister and two neighbors had already been by, taking home packages for their families' suppers that evening.

It was nothing unusual. Every time his wife broke out the old family recipe from Germany, word got around, and today their next-door neighbor planted a seed. "You know," she said, "I would buy these noodles from the market if I could, but no one makes them like you!"

Theodore and Willa sat down that evening talking and dreaming of a noodle factory. Soon after they found a small brick building at 9104 Culver in Detroit. From a company in Brooklyn, New York (where the first American pasta company was founded in 1848), they acquired some Italian pasta manufacturing equipment. This was the beginning of the Schmidt Noodle Company.

A Family's Dream Matures

Mr. Schmidt began selling his noodles to area stores and families in Detroit's German and Polish communities. In 1947 the Schmidt's decided to expand their business to include making spaghetti and macaroni. Special extruding equipment such as brass dies and dryers were needed, and again the Schmidt's purchased the finest equipment available, most of it from the Clermont Company of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Eventually, all the major grocery chains in the Detroit metro area carried Schmidt Noodles. They were served in Bill Knapp's restaurants and at Frankenmuth Village. The author remembers as a child fetching bags of Schmidt Noodles from the pantry for her grandmother in their house at Cass Lake, Michigan.

When it was time to retire, the Schmidt family leased their company to David Zak, who would continue making pasta at 9104 Culver as the family requested, until he too was ready to move on. Mr. Zak would keep his promise to Mr. Schmidt and more, passing the torch to another generation that has in turn kept the small Detroit plant busy to this day.

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