Photo by Jordan Christian on Unsplash

By Sarah Cottrell

Maine has a long history of plucky inventors. When times get tough, Mainers don’t give up, and out of that resolve has come many famous solutions. Take for instance, Bakewell Cream. During WWII there was a cream of tartar shortage so an industrious Bangor-based chemist, Byron H. Smith, figured out that if he mixed sodium acid pyrophosphate with re-dried starch he could easily replace cream of tartar and bakers could get back to making breads and cakes. Smith called it Bakewell Cream and it has become a staple in kitchens across the country ever since. 

Nowadays, you can pick up several iconic Maine brands including Bakewell Cream at the New England Food Cupboard, right in Hermon. 

“We’re a family-owned company, we make everything here from scratch and in small batches,” said Jim Collins, the owner and operator of the New England Food Cupboard. “We try our best to buy as much as we can locally and we make everything right here in Hermon.”

Collins and his small team work hard to produce five different iconic Maine specialty food brands, the Bakewell Cream line, Winterport Company Dips and Mixes, Jimbo’s Seasonings, Jakes Treats, and Cooks In The Kitchen. 

The small company might have some big name power when it comes to their well-known products but they’ve never let it go to their heads. During the early months of the Covid crisis when grocery stores began to experience food shortages, New England Food Cupboard stepped up to help out. 

“I had a friend who was telling me how hard it was to find flour and sugar,” Collins said. “The grocery stores couldn’t get it in, but I could order it in large batches, so that’s what I did.”

Collins and his small staff worked fast to get more than 5,000 pounds of flour and sugar and several hundred pounds of yeast broken down into small packages to sell to the public. 

“We don’t use dry yeast here at the New England Food Cupboard but I could get it. It came in two-pound packages so we broke those down into four-ounce packages and sold those,” Collins explains. “I did some research on pricing to see what local grocery stores sold it for because I didn’t want to price gouge, I just wanted to help out.”

The New England Food Cupboard has a wide variety of tasty treats, and Collins and his team have created some new offerings recently including Everything Bagel Seasoning Blend and Chocolate Scones. The scone mix is especially great because all you have to add is heavy cream and then bake. Folks can also buy New England Food Company’s popular mixes, including Lemon Poppy Muffin and Scone Mix, Blueberry Oat Muffin and Scone Mix, and plenty of gluten-free options as well. If you’re thinking of party food then don’t miss their dips, a perennial crowd favorite. And those Jimbo’s Seasonings? Not only do people love them but you might be curious to know that the caricature on the package is Jim Collins. 

All of the products by New England Food Company are available to purchase on their website. However, if you’d like to stop by to shop in person, Collins says it is important to call first and make an appointment since the brick and mortar side of the business is not a storefront, it is a manufacturing facility. Nevertheless, the Collins family will welcome you in. 

New England Food Company is located at 30 Liberty Drive in Hermon. For more information, call 207-848-4900 or visit www.newenglandcupboard.com.

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