So — the first waldorf school was named after a cigarette factory in Stuttgart, Germany. The waldorf salad got its name from the Waldorf Hotel in New York (later the Waldorf Astoria), where it was created. But were there any connections between the cigarette factory in Stuttgart and the hotel in New York? Incidentally, the company that owned old cigarette factory in Stuttgart also bore the name Astoria — The Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Company — though nowadays the factory is occasionally mentioned only as the Waldorf cigarette factory. (I believe? I may be mistaken here though.) And the waldorf schools, as far as I know, never adopted the entire name Waldorf-Astoria.
And, more importantly, what happened to the Waldorf cigarette factory? My google searches didn’t bring up anything but a very brief history of the factory itself on wikipedia. I may have come across more substantial information at some point in the past, but I cannot remember.
The Waldorf Hotel, opened in 1893 according to Wikipedia, clearly predates the Waldorf school. The salad, likewise, was a creation of the 1890s. The Waldorf Hotel closed for relocation, merged with the Astoria Hotel and opened as the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1931.
The Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Company, on the other hand, was established by Emil Molt — the anthroposophist who would later be involved with Rudolf Steiner in setting up the first waldorf school — and colleagues in 1906. It had been named after John Jacob Astor (1763-1848) from a German town called Walldorf. He had emigrated to the US and become enormously wealthy. Molt’s Waldorf-Astoria cigarette company went out of business in 1929 — that is, before the joint Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York had even been opened.
To make the story more complicated, the Waldorf-Astoria hotel had originally been two hotels, both of which were established by descendants of the same rich emigrant John Jacob Astor, whom the cigarette company had been named after. As already mentioned, the Waldorf Hotel was opened in 1893. The other hotel — the Astoria — was established four years later. By this time, it seems, the family had adopted the name of John Jacob Astor’s home village, Walldorf, though with another spelling: Waldorf.
The Waldorf-Astoria Tobacco factory may have ceased to exist in 1929, but the tobacco brand remained in production, during many years manufactured by a company called Remtsmaa. The waldorf schools are still around. When the Stuttgart school had been established by Molt and Steiner in 1919, Molt was manager of the cigarette company, and he and the company provided the building space the school needed.
[Photo: from the wikipedia entry on Emil Molt.]