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Chambersburg, Pennsylvania-based Martin’s is known for its potato rolls, but the brand has found itself in the news this week over an entirely different type of bread. Specifically, large donations the family behind the bakery has reportedly made to Doug Mastriano, a Trump-allied politician running for governor of Pennsylvania. As Quartz reports, potato bread patriarch Jim Martin is in fact the top financial supporter of Mastriano’s bid.
Mastriano was subpoenaed in February by the congressional committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and today agreed to appear before and turn over certain documents to that committee.
The New York Times reports that he is believed to have fundraised for and arranged busses to take protestors to Washington, D.C. to participate in a pro-Trump rally, and video footage appears to show him personally crossing police lines as insurrectionists moved toward the Capitol. While Mastriano has repeated non-factual allegations of irregularities in the 2020 presidential election, he has stated that he was not aware of plans for the rally to turn into a violent insurrection and did not himself enter the building or engage in criminal activity.
In addition to his connection to January 6, Mastriano has introduced a “heartbeat bill” into the Pennsylvania State Senate – which, if enacted as drafted, would ban abortions after just six weeks, before many individuals even know they are pregnant – and Mastriano likened anyone calling for additional gun control measures in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas school shooting to Lenin and Hitler.
Reports indicate Jim Martin has given $110,000 to Mastriano’s gubernatorial campaign, along with an additional $4,000 from Jim’s wife Donna Martin, and $2,000 from daughter Julie Martin. The original Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe was founded by Jim Martin’s parents in 1955. He took over the company from them and served as president until 2021, when he passed the torch to his son, Troy. Since then, he has continued to serve as executive chairman of the company’s board. Julie Martin is currently the brand’s social media manager.
“It’s very concerning,” one Philadelphia restaurant owner who currently uses the Martin’s potato rolls told WHYY news blog Billy Penn. “As things become more polarized and politicians become more extreme, do we have to draw a line somewhere?” Another restaurant owner told the site that, given the information about the owner’s political proclivities, “I’m probably going to stop using them.”
Martin’s breads (which are not vegan, we should note) have been described by fans as “the ‘platonic ideal’ of a hamburger bun,” beloved for a slightly sweet taste and soft, yielding texture. The products are sold nationwide at grocery stores and to numerous wholesale contracts in the restaurant industry. Martin’s provides the default burger bun for every Shake Shack location around the globe; as of Thursday afternoon, Shake Shack has not provided comment regarding if it will continue working with Martin’s.
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