The story of the Franklin Baker Company began in 1894, when Mr. Franklin Baker, Sr. (1846-1923), a flour miller from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania received a boatload of fresh coconuts as payment from a Cuban merchant for flour he shipped to Cuba.
Mr. Baker, Sr. searched in vain for a buyer for the fresh coconuts and along the way, he learned a lot about the problems and opportunities of operating a coconut business. He became convinced that there was an untapped market for coconut. In 1895, he bought a small coconut business located in Arch Street in Philadelphia that was about to close and with his boatload of bartered goods, he entered the coconut business by developing a method to conveniently shred and produce coconut meat of uniform quality which he later on promoted to local housewives.
From that modest start, Franklin Baker, Sr. grew to become the foremost supplier of high quality coconut products in the United States. By 1897, Franklin Baker, Sr. made so much progress with his new business that he decided to sell his flour business to concentrate on his new venture. His son, Franklin Baker, Jr. (1872-1946) eventually joined the business and established the Franklin Baker Company, Inc. In 1913, the manufacturing facilities were moved to Brooklyn, New York and later on to Hoboken, New Jersey. In 1921, Franklin Baker, Sr and his son visited the Philippines and on August 24, 1922, Franklin Baker, Jr., together with 6 other individuals incorporated the Philippine Food Company with an authorized capital stock of PHP 50,000.00 and set up a desiccated coconut plant in the Philippines (located in Sta. Mesa, Manila). Around 4 years later, the manufacturing facility was transferred to San Pablo City, Laguna and the name of the company was eventually changed to Franklin Baker Company of the Philippines on May 13, 1926.
In 1927, Postum Cereal Company (which later on became known as General Foods Corporation in 1929) acquired both Franklin Baker Company of the Philippines and the Diehl-Anderson Coconut Company (also based in San Pablo, Laguna).
The Diehl-Anderson Coconut Company was a coconut company established in 1923 by two gentlemen; namely Mr. Theobald Diehl, an American national of German descent and delegate representing the Philippines Islands (which was an American colony) to the United States Republican Party National Convention and Major W.H. Anderson. Mr. Theobald Diehl became President of the Franklin Baker Company of the Philippines in 1927.
During the Second World War, the San Pablo plant sustained heavy damage and as such, manufacturing operations were moved back to the United States to ensure business continuity. Fresh coconuts from Puerto Rico and Jamaica were shipped to the Hoboken plant for processing. Eventually, the San Pablo plant was rebuilt in 1947 and in 1963, the coconut processing facility was moved from Hoboken, New Jersey to Dover, Delaware. The Dover plant processed desiccated coconut shipped from the Philippines and manufactured the sweetened, toasted and creamed coconut products for industrial and retail customers.