Berger’s Bakery: A Sweet, Sweet American Dream

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The Berger Cookie is one of Baltimore’s most legendary treats. First baked back in 1835, this deceptively delicious combination of shortbread and fudge is one of Lexington Market’s biggest draws for foodies with a sweet tooth. Bergers-1-copyBergers-2-copySince 1975, Lexington Market’s Berger’s Bakery has been owned and operated by Fannie and Minus. Their sparkling counters hold many mouthwatering confections: cookies, doughnuts, cakes, pastries, all baked fresh every day. But it’s the famous Berger Cookie that gets its name on the sign.

Fannie and Minus have a lot of pride in what they do. And it’s evident in their product and their demeanor. They arrived in America from their homeland of Greece in 1974, only to buy the Lexington Market cookie shop in October, 1975. Since then, it’s the details that make their treats so delicious and enduring: all of the time spent overseeing the daily baking of thousands of sweets, hours spent arranging and cleaning their immaculate Lexington location every day. But this isn’t all there is to it. Fannie and Minus also bring a lot of love to what they do, and you’ll feel it with every confection they push across the counter.Bergers-28

It’s an attitude that has carried them through some of Lexington Market’s most challenging years. Fannie recalls opening up shop more than 40 years ago. In those days, the market was largely divided up according to immigrant origination. Most owner/operators had come to Baltimore from someplace far away. And thousands of immigrant patrons came looking for particular flavors from back home: the Jewish Deli, the French Bakery, etc. In the early 2000’s poverty ate up a lot of the quality and pride Fannie knew from her early days at the market. Today, while many immigrant vendors remain offering traditional foods, more and more offerings are American. Fannie misses the personal cultural aspect of the old days.

Bergers-4-copyShe recalls the Lexington Market she and Minus moved into 40 years ago. It was emblematic of the American dream. The young couple operated Berger’s across the aisle from a fruit stand, run by 4 immigrant brothers, all of whom were able to make a good living. Though changed, this facet of the American dream is still alive in Lexington Market. But in order to thrive for immigrants and Baltimoreans alike, Fannie sees that a lot of changes need to be made. She describes the work ethic that she puts into keeping Berger’s Bakery exceeding expectations, even as the rest of the market has had its ups and downs:

Bergers-6-copy“My father used to have a supermarket in Greece. Over there, it’s hard to make money. In business, you have to love what you do. I make my cookies every day. The next day, they’re no good. I put them fresh in the tray every morning. I have to be ready! It’s work…that’s how Lexington Market is supposed to be!”

Fannie and Minus aren’t going anywhere. They’re working with the next generation to continue Berger’s high standard of excellence for many years to come. But for this committed couple, retirement isn’t coming anytime soon. Fannie and Minus are optimistic for the future, for positive momentum they’re seeing in Lexington Market. And they’re ready to share the delicious treats they’ve been making for decades with a new generation of customers. If you haven’t tasted a Berger Cookie yet, pay a visit to Fannie and Minus today.

Check out Berger’s vendor page for more information.