Election 2022

Federal Donuts switches potato rolls, swapping Martin’s for Baltimore’s ‘bread man’

Customers had pressured the Philly restaurant brand to change suppliers after hearing of Martin’s ties to Doug Mastriano.

Federal Donuts' fried chicken sandwich had been served on the same rolls since being introduced in 2015

Federal Donuts' fried chicken sandwich had been served on the same rolls since being introduced in 2015

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

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Federal Donuts has found a new potato roll for its signature fried chicken sandwiches.

The Philly chicken-donuts-coffee specialist is saying goodbye to Central Pennsylvania bread brand Martin’s — which it had used since introducing sandwiches to the menu in 2015.

Instead, the brand will start using the Schmidt Old Tyme Potato Roll made by Baltimore-born Schmidt Baking Company. A spokesperson for FedNuts on Tuesday confirmed the menu change to Billy Penn.

Fans began pressuring Federal Donuts to change its bread supplier after Billy Penn reported growing customer consternation because the family behind Martin’s has been among the top donors to the Republican candidate for Pa. governor, Doug Mastriano.

Mastriano, a state senator from South Central Pa., has been subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee. He rose to prominence as a leading voice in denial of the 2020 election results, and has been described as a Christian nationalist because of his expressed views.

While FedNuts had previously confirmed that they were “working on” switching suppliers, they had not identified a new baker until now.

Another family baking business with political influence

Who is that new baker? Schmidt is a subsidiary of H&S Bakery, founded in 1943 by Harry Tsakalos and Isodore “Steve” Paterakis — the H and the S.

Like Martin’s, it’s a family-owned company with long-established community roots.

“Our corporate offices and flagship bakery plant are located in historic Fells Point and remain the foundation of our operations to this day,” the H&S website says. “We are also proud to have provided decades of economic growth through the Harbor East development and employment for local families — including four generations of our own.”

John Paterakis Sr., who died in 2016, inherited the bakery business from his father and built it into the largest privately owned bakery in the U.S. One of the H&S subsidiaries became a major supplier to McDonald’s.

Along the way, Paterakis Sr., became a multimillionaire, and a prolific political donor, usually to Democrats.

In 2009 he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor campaign finance violations for exceeding donation limits for a Baltimore city councilperson’s re-election campaign. He was barred from donating to city politicians for just over two years.

“He became known as ‘the bread man,’ a reference not only to his bakery but also his financial clout and political influence,” said Paterakis’ obituary in the Baltimore Sun. He had six children, four of whom ascended to high-level leadership within the baking company.

Son Bill Paterakis is now president and CEO of H&S Bakery. He previously led the H&S subsidiary Northeast Foods, which makes buns and English muffins for McDonalds. A 2016 profile of the privately owned company put its annual revenue around $800 million.

The company got some unexpected attention earlier this year, after authorizing one of its delivery trucks to give out Schmidt Baking Co. products to hungry, stranded motorists on I-95 in Virginia. A couple who was stuck in the snowstorm gridlock spotted a Schmidt Baking truck on the highway and called the company to see if they could distribute bread to the cars around them. Chuck Paterakis, H&S senior vice president of transportation and logistics, said yes.

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