Mr. Laughlin began his career at age 13 greasing pans in a local bakery. He joined the Continental Baking Company, as it was then known, as a route salesman after college, and spent almost his entire career with the company. Under his direction, it became one of the world’s largest baking companies, making products like Wonder Bread and Hostess Twinkies.
He was named president in 1949 and became chairman and chief executive officer in 1950. He remained chief executive officer until he retired in 1973.
Mr. Laughlin was born in Kansas City, Mo., and graduated from the University of Missouri in 1926. He later attended the American Institute of Baking in Chicago.