For nearly two decades N.M Wheatley (who didn't care for his name of Noah and pronounced his middle name "Mike" although his French mother spelled it "Mique") worked hard as a hometown and foreign newspaper vendor at the corner of San Francisco's Market and Kearny streets. In 1914, he became curious about an elderly couple who passed by his newsstand every day carrying a covered basket filled with delicious home-baked, vanilla cookies they sold door-to-door. After trying one, Mique decided on the spot to purchase the rights to the recipe.
The taste of that vanilla cookie changed his life! Mique decided to invest in something more permanent that a corner cart. San Francisco's 1906 earthquake and subsequent fires influenced Mique to locate his business across the Bay. At a small, one-man plant on 12th Avenue in Oakland he toiled all night baking cookies in a three square foot oven with a nightly capacity of about 2000 cookies or 150 boxes. These sold for $1 a box and his vanilla cookies were an overnight success.
Needing help, Mique hired a young woman to help him, and romance flourished in the small bakery. Mique married his new assistant, Leopoldine, and together they ran the company until their son, Floyd, was old enough to take over. In the early days, cookies were delivered in a wagon pulled by Mique's rented horse, Vanilla. Later, Model-T Fords outdistanced Vanilla. By 1922, the bakery needed more space, and the company moved to East 18th Street - a gamble so large that Mique was forced to sell his house and even the piano to pay for it!
In 1949, the company experienced more growing pains, and the bakers moved one final time to 810 81st Avenue in Oakland, where the headquarters and bakery remain to this day. Thanks to Mique and Floyd, Mother's is a fixture in Oakland and many other towns, employing over 750 people across 14 western states, Alaska, and Hawaii and importing and distributing biscuits from Europe. We salute Mique Wheatley, who went from selling news to making news.
And the rest, as they say, is history!
Now you can live in this historic building, and maybe even smell cookies baking in the oven!