When Jacob Kaufman first moved to San Francisco in 2010, having someone recognize him on the street with a warm, “Dude, here comes the Muffin Man!” greeting wasn’t what he’d necessarily have pictured.
Yet 12 years later, Kaufman has become synonymous with the deliciously warm breakfast staple—and he’s not upset about it.
Years ago, after watching his uncle whip up a batch of delicious muffins, Kaufman decided to give baking a try. He made his own muffins, only to realize he couldn’t eat them all. So Kaufman had the idea to hand them out to people experiencing homelessness around San Francisco.
“I ran out of muffins about halfway to work,” recalls Kaufman. “So the week after that, I baked two dozen muffins.” Those ran out too.
Eventually, that effort spawned a movement that spread across the country: National Muffin Day, which was launched by Kaufman and his co-founder Julia Levy in 2015. It falls on Feb. 20 each year.
Kaufman, a Bay Area native, says the concept is simple: “At its best, it is about more than just muffins. It’s about raising awareness, understanding and empathy.”
On National Muffin Day, “muffinteers” around the country form baking parties and hand out fresh goodies. Kaufman estimates about 30,000 muffins have been distributed to date, and hopes that number will tick up even more this year.
“Muffins have this universal connotation of warmth and nurturing. That’s what everyone really needs,” he said. And there’s just one rule: “If you wouldn’t eat and love a muffin yourself, do not give it out to anyone else,” said Kaufman.
If you’d like to participate in National Muffin Day, you can bake muffins yourself or host a baking party with friends using the hashtag #givemuffins on Instagram and Twitter. Be sure to tag The Standard on social media so we can share pictures of your beautiful baking bounty as well.
Sophie Bearman can be reached at [email protected]