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Cudmore: Maldutis Bakery known for rye

Cudmore: Maldutis Bakery known for rye

The choice at Maldutis Bakery in Amsterdam was between light rye and pumpernickel. 

David Northrup, a relative of the owners, said the seedless light rye loaf “was oblong in shape and had a small white paper label glued to one end that read simply ‘Maldutis Bakery’ in green ink.” 

The pumpernickel contained caraway seeds, according to Northrup, “was sold in a large round loaf, and was very sour tasting.”

Northrup added, “I don't think I ever saw anything other than loaves of those two breads displayed in the two countertop glass cases.”

The bakery was at 220 East Main Street at Dean Street, on the north side of East Main and west side of Dean.

Victor Orante, one of Northrup’s uncles on his mother’s side, had married a sister of Jean Shatas Maldutis.  Jean handled the retail store; her husband operated the bakery.  Northrup would be dispatched by his mother to buy Maldutis bread.

Northrup said Jean knew who he was, “But, alas, the remote family connection never got me a discount on the bread!”

Maldutis Bakery was founded in 1926 in a section of the East End where many Lithuanian immigrants lived.  The founder was a Lithuanian native, Peter Maldutis, who previously worked as a baker in Watervliet.

Maldutis married Anna Valukonis of Amsterdam.  They had a son, Charles (known as Chuck) born in 1916 when the family lived in Watervliet and a younger daughter, Frances, who married a man named Ben Rocher.

Northrup said, “On two occasions in the spring of 1932 the independent bakeries in the city took out ads in the Recorder asking residents to buy only breads and other baked goods from the small bakeries in Amsterdam which were apparently losing business to larger commercial bakeries.”

A city directory published in 1932 listed 17 bakers in Amsterdam.  In addition to Peter Maldutis were Raffaele Pepe on the South Side, Szymon Wojnar on Park Hill, John Vidulich on Guy Park Avenue, and several others.  Some establishments only listed business names: Federal, Home Dairy and New York Star. 

Peter’s son Chuck and Jean Shatas of Amsterdam married in 1939.  They had no children.  Peter died in October 1945.  He had been ill for some time but his death was not expected. 

Chuck took over the family business in 1947 and like his parents, he and Jean lived behind the bakery.  Chuck and Jean had a summer home at Galway Lake.

Maldutis’s employed several bakers over the years and in the 1940s the shop closed for a couple weeks each July to give employees a vacation.  Their bread was sold wholesale to McLane’s Deli in Schenectady, 

Chuck died in September 1967 at age 51, a short time after suffering a hemorrhage while driving back to Amsterdam from a Schenectady bread delivery. 

The family story was that he died from cancer that may have been caused by inhaling flour dust.  Maldutis Bakery closed in 1968.

Northrup said, “Once the bakery closed and the bread was no longer available, Nabisco wanted to purchase the bread recipes from Jean.  Despite several offers, she steadfastly refused to sell, and the recipes died with her when she passed in 2013.

“There are many of us still around who grew up in the East End and fondly remember the bakery whose only form of direct advertising was a small paper label affixed to the loaves. Maldutis baked and sold only ‘European Style’ breads for over forty years to both local and regional customers, and was well enough known in the business to have Nabisco, a major U.S. company by the 1960s, desire its recipes.”

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