2016 : Ralph Hauenstein Dies, WWII Military Hero, Businessman, Philanthropist, and Goldfish Cracker Maker

January 10, 2023 all-day
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After seeing the devastation of war and knowing Europe would need rebuilding, the late Ralph Hauenstein decided to go into the export business, but he had no idea what he would export. With the help of an Army friend, David Rockefeller, he opened an office in New York.

Traveling through a village in Germany, he saw a man in a garage mixing dough and turning out fish-shaped snacks with a hand-operated press. Hauenstein had engineers design equipment to mass produce the snacks, shared the technology with the German baker and sold the machines to Pepperidge Farm.

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Goldfish crackers have been popular ever since.

During World War II, he helped break Nazi codes and was instrumental in convincing Hitler that the allies would land in Calais instead of Normandy.

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For his efforts during World War II, he received the Order of the British Empire and the French Croix ce Guerre (Cross of War).

After World War II, Hauenstein helped recruit some of the first officers for the Central Intelligence Agency.

He was a major supporter of St. Mary’s Hospital, Aquinas College, and Grand Valley State University.

Hauenstein died Sunday, Jan. 10, at age 103.


Matt Vande Bunte, “How Michigan man made Goldfish crackers a snack phenomenon”, MLive, January 11, 2016.

9 Amazing Moments of An American Hero’s Life, MLive.

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