Curtice Brothers Co., Preserves, Rochester N.Y.

 

Curtice Brothers, founded in 1868, by Simeon and Edgar Curtice, was one of the pioneers in the canning and preserving of food products.

The infancy of the company is described in the biography of Simeon Curtice contained in the “History of Rochester and Monroe County, New York, from the Earliest Historic Times to 1907, Vol. II”

In 1862 he concluded his studies and then established himself in the grocery business in Rochester in the old flat iron building at Main, North and Franklin Streets. In 1865 he was joined by his younger brother, Edgar, and they adopted the firm name of Curtice Brothers. They began a business association which continued until his death. It was in a room above their store that they commenced the canning of fruit in a small way, experimenting with the preserving of various fruits. In the autumn of 1868 they sold their grocery business, and purchased the property at the corner of Water and Mortimer Streets and devoted themselves entirely to the canning and preserving of fruits and vegetables. The rapidity with which their products found favor on the market led to the demand for increased space, causing them to purchase land and build on North Water Street between Andrews and River Streets.

They began operating at this North Water Street location on or about April 1, 1871. A description of this facility was found in the June 30, 1871 edition of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

Yesterday we were surprised to find a four story building including basement, on North Water Street, below Andrews, devoted entirely to the business of canning and preserving fruits and vegetables…The Curtice Brothers commenced the business some three years ago, and they managed it so judiciously that they have met with unusual success. They have been encouraged to erect a building for this special business, and last March operations were commenced. An excellent cellar was built with a view of providing accommodations for this kind of trade. The structure is forty feet wide by 130 feet long, built of brick. About April 1st, the Curtice Brothers entered the building and began making cans for use the present season. They are now employing sixty-five hands in the various departments.

The Rochester city directories listed the Curtice Brothers at this location from 1871 through 1878.

According to Simeon’s biography, in 1880, the business was forced to move again due to the demand for still further increased space. This led to another location in Rochester on Livingston Street near St Paul Street where they built a plant that would remain operational until 1947.

An indication of the company’s size and importance to Rochester can be inferred by the fact that Livingston Street was apparently renamed Curtice Street. The company started using the new street name in the 1900 directory.

According to Simeon Curtice’s obituary in the February 16, 1905 edition of the Democrat and Chronicle, the business incorporated in 1889.

The Curtice Brothers copartnership continued until 1889, when the business was turned over to a corporation, organized for that purpose, under the name of Curtice Brothers Company, which continued until 1901, when it was consolidated with the Curtice Brothers Canning Company, of Vernon N.Y. to form the present company.

Simeone Curtice served as president until his death in 1905. At that point. Edgar succeeded him as president and ran the company until 1920, when he also passed away. By this time, in addition to Rochester, the company maintained plants in Indiana, Woodstown, N.J. and Vernon, N.Y.

According to a story marking the firm’s 90th anniversary in the November 23, 1958 issue of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, after Edgar’s death the controlling stock of the company was in the hands of the Security Trust Co.,until 1923 when Douglas Townson bought the stock and took control. Townson served as president and later as a director, and was still serving as a director of the company when the story was written.

By this time, according to the 90th anniversary story:

The company had about 150 permanent employees, and as many as 3,000 during the packing season, when factories operate in two shifts.

According to a story in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the business was dissolved in 1961. According to an April 2nd story:

A purchase price of $3 million has dissolved the 93 year old Curtice Brothers Co., of Rochester and the Burns-Alton Corp. of Alton and turned ownership of the firms’ assets to a growers organization.

Transfer of the food processing companies’ facilities to the Pro-Fac Cooperative , Inc., made up of about 5oo Western New York fruit and vegetable growers, took place here Friday. Payment will be made over a 10-year period.

It’s apparent that as far back as 1871, the Curtice Brothers operation was quite significant. The June 30, 1871 story in the Democrat and Chronicle goes on to say:

The firm is now engaged in canning cherries which are put up in two and three pound packages. After the cherry season is over, will come in their order, lima beans, string beans, green peas, tomatos, corn, plums, pears, and quinces.

The Curtice Brothers have exhibited much enterprise in thus building up a business that was entirely new to Rochester. They expect to can fifteen hundred bushels of cherries, and in all fruits and vegetables they will can very little, if any, short of  half a million bushels this season

Their earliest newspaper advertisements from November/December of 1889 mentioned their canned fruits and vegetables as well as Red Current Jelly, Plum Pudding, “Pleasant Dreams” Mince Meat and “Blue Label” Ketchup.

In 1893, Curtice Brothers was a major food supplier for the Chicago World’s Fair. Under the heading “Hungry Folks at Chicago Will Never Forget the Name of Rochester, N.Y.,” the April 14, 1893 issue of the Democrat and Chronicle reported:

Upon investigation as to the the truth of a rumored large sale of food products, we find that with their usual enterprise, Curtice Brothers Co. have succeeded in making a contract with the Wellington Catering Company, which has the privileges of all the cafes and restaurants in the World’s Fair grounds at Chicago, to supply them to the exclusion of all other brands, with canned apples, squash and pumpkin (for pies); green corn and peas; preserved fruits; plum puddings, and “blue label” tomato ketchup, and when it is known that in the several cafes and restaurants there are lunch counters that aggregate over one and one-half miles in length and more than twelve hundred tables, at which can be seated at any one time to exceed fifteen thousand people (it is moderately estimated that more than one hundred thousand people will be fed during each day of the exposition), the magnitude of this contract can be easily imagined – better, perhaps when it is known that the estimate of wants already given is sufficient to make sixty-eight carloads.

The company marketed a number of items under their “Blue Label” brand including a line of “Blue Label” soups, but their most famous and recognizeable one was their ketchup.

It’s not clear when the company started making ketchup but advertisements referencing their “Imperial Tomato Ketchup” date back to at least 1879 and by 1889 advertisements referenced the “Blue Label” brand.

Immensely popular, the “Blue Label” brand lost market share to Heinz when the company refused to remove the preservative, benzoate of soda, from their ketchup recipe. In the early 1900’s there was a general trend away from food preservatives in the United States which sparked a great debate over the use of benzoate of soda. After a referee board appointed by President Roosevelt supported the use of benzoate of soda as a preservative, Curtice Brothers launched an advertising campaign in the spring of 1909 stating that “Blue Label Ketchup contained only those ingredients recognized and endorsed by the U.S. Government.”The advertisement below, from the May 20, 1909 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle is typical of the campaign.

Although it was never banned in small quantities, scientific advancements and the court of public opinion had caused most companies to stop using benzoate of soda by 1915. Curtice Brothers however, refused. According to “Pure Ketchup: A History of America’s National Condiment with Recipes”

Curtice Brothers was the clear loser in the benzoate war. At the turn of the century their “Blue Label Tomato Ketchup” was among the most respected and well-liked condiments in America. By 1915 its prestige and popularity had fallen. W. Stanley Maclem, later the president of Curtice Brothers, disclosed that they had “received a great deal of unfavorable publicity from the benzoate issue,” and he believed that “this could have been one of the factors in explaining the decline of the company’s product in the catsup market.”

Nonetheless the “Blue Label” Ketchup brand appears to have outlasted the Curtice Brothers business. I’ve seen it referenced in advertisements as late as 1972, more than 10 years after the Curtis Brothers business was dissolved.

I found two bottles, both mouth blown with external threads and an improved tooled finish. One bottle is about 10 1/2 inches tall and the size of a typical ketchup bottle today. The other bottle is identical, only smaller, just eight inches tall.  The lower half of each bottle is ribbed except for a flat square space where the label would have gone. This type of bottle began appearing in their advertisements around 1890. The earliest one I could find was from a series advertisements in the Pittsburgh Dispatch in November/December of 1890.

It wasn’t until 1929 that the company unveiled a new bottle type, the wide mouth.

Recognizing that the bottles I found are mouth blown, they most likely fall in the early to mid-range of the bottle type’s 1890 to 1929 time frame.

Tournades Kitchen Bouquet

 

Kitchen Bouquet has been available for well over 100 years and it can still be purchased today at among other places, Walmart and Target. A browning and seasoning sauce for soups, sauces, gravies, roasts and stews it was developed by Jules L. Tournade and originally manufactured by the Palisade Manufacturing Co. of West Hoboken New Jersey.

A story printed at the time of his death, in the July 17, 1891 issue of the N.Y.Times briefly mentioned his background and early history.

Mr. Tournade was of French birth, his native town being La Rochelle, France, where he was born in 1836. He came to this country in 1857 in company with his cousin, Jules G Tournade, who is engaged in the importing business at 25 South William Street, with the firm of Gourd & Tournade. Mr. Jules L Tournade was at first in business with his cousin and was a member with him of the firm J & J Tournade. This firm, however, dissolved in 1869, and since then Mr. Jules L. Tournade had been in business in New Jersey. He had been successful in business. He leaves a wife and one son who will probably succeed his father in the business of the company.

J&J Tournade was last listed in the 1868-69 NYC Directory confirming that the company did come to an end around that time. However, it appears that Jules L. Tournade remained in business in New York through much of the 1870’s where he was listed in the NYC directories as either a merchant or importer.

According to an early listing of New Jersey corporations, he started the Palisade Manufacturing Company on July 5, 1881 at 247 Clinton Avenue in West Hoboken. The first listing I can find for the company was in the 1883 Jersey City Directory with an address of Clinton Avenue near Chambers. Jules L Tournade and his son, Emil Tournade were also listed individually at the same address with the occupations of president and salesman respectively.

Jules L  Tounade died a sudden and tragic death in July of 1891. According to the July 17th N.Y. Times story:

Jules L. Tournde, proprietor of the Palisade Manufacturing Company, Clinton Avenue, West Hoboken,N.J., was fatally injured on the Paterson Plank Road, opposite Second Street, Hoboken, Wednesday afternoon, and died shortly afterward at his home. Mr Tournade had recently purchased a team of horses and had taken them out in company with Mr. Frank Davis of the Davis West Hoboken Express to accustom the horses to the railroad and elevated trains.

On the way home along the plank road the reins became entangled and the horses began to back. In attempting to get out of the wagon Mr. Tournade slipped and his foot was firmly wedged between the shaft and the axle. The horses continued backing, and forced the wagon near the end of the road. A moment later it went over, followed by the horses, and all struck on the jagged rocks, fifteen feet below. Mr. Davis in the meantime had succeeded in getting out of the wagon, but Mr. Tournade suffered fractures of the ribs and skull. He was taken to his home, but all efforts to save his life were without avail.

His son apparently continued on in the business but for how long is unknown. The 1900 census records listed Emile Tournade’s occupation as “syrup maker” but he’s nowhere to be found in the 1910 or 1920 census records. I guess it’s possible he went back to live with family in France?

In any event, the Palisade Manufacturing Company was still listed at 247-249 Clinton Avenue in the 1918 Industrial Directory of New Jersey.  Located near the intersection of Clinton Avenue and Chambers Street, certain advertisements during this period include 18 Chambers Street as their address.

In 1923 they became part of the newly formed Foulds Company. According to a collection entitled the “Coolidge Era and the Consumer Economy, 1921-1929” assembled by the Library of Congress:

In 1923 the Foulds Company was formed by the consolidation of the following companies: The Foulds Milling Co., Chicago and Libertyville; Warner Macaroni Co., Syracuse N.Y.; Woodcock Macaroni Co., Rochester N.Y.; Palisade Manufacturing Co., manufacturers of Kitchen Bouquet, Hoboken N.J., and just recently the acquisition of the Cone Company of America, making the well-known Havacone ice cream cone, which gives another product closely allied with the macaroni industry.

According to the January, 1924 issue of the Wholesale Grocery Review, a year later the business was still operating under the control of the Foulds Company but was then called Kitchen Bouquet Co.

C S Foulds has succeeded his father, who died recently, as president of the Foulds Co. Mr. Foulds was formerly secretary and sales manger of the Foulds Milling Co.

The Foulds Co., with executive offices at 522 Fifth Ave., New York City, controls The Foulds Milling Co., Warner Macaroni Co., Woodcock Macaroni Co. and Kitchen Bouquet Co.

The officers are C.S. Foulds, president; G.E. Warner, 1st vice-president; H.H. Mills, vice-president; R.M. McMullen, treasurer; A.H. Wheatmore, secretary.

During this period Kitchen Bouquet advertisements utilized the Foulds Manhattan executive office address of 522 Fifth Avenue.

In 1929 Kitchen Bouquet was acquired by Grocery Store Products, Inc. The August 23, 1929 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported the transaction.

The formation of Grocery Store Products, Inc. which will immediately acquire four operating food companies and is contemplating the acquisition of additional companies, was announced today…The four special food companies, practically all of the stock of which will be held by Grocery Store Products, Inc., are the Toddy Corporation, manufacturer of a chocolate flavored malt food drink; Would Milling Co., a leader in the production of quality macaroni products; Kitchen Bouquet, Inc., manufacturer of liquid flavoring products, and Edward H Jacob, a company which produces the major portion of the canned mushrooms produced in the United States.

Grocery Store Products continued to make Kitchen Bouquet for the next four decades until the Clorox Company acquired the Kitchen Bouquet brand in April 1971. According to their web site, this marked the company’s entrance into specialty food products.

It’s not clear when the Kitchen Bouquet brand first hit the market. A series of advertisements from the early 1900’s say “30 years a favorite.”

This would put the product’s start back in the early 1870’s, but that’s  probably a stretch, recognizing that Jules L Tournade was working in New York as an importer/merchant at the time. It was certainly in existence by 1889 because it was exhibited at the Paris Exhibition that year.

I’m guessing it was developed in the early to mid-1880’s after the Palisade Manufacturing Company was formed. Originally listed as a candy manufacturer and confectioner, they would have been familiar with some of the ingredients that ultimately were included in the sauce, such as caramel. Today, the original recipe is one of the oldest items, and the only confidential asset, in the Clorox archive.

The Clorox Company web site shows several of the Kitchen Bouquet containers utilized over the course of their history. The bottle I found is machine made and matches the labeled bottle dated 1919.

It’s embossed Tournades Kitchen Bouquet on the base. The 1919 time period puts it’s manufacture with the Palisade Manufacturing Co. which agrees with the label on the pictured bottle.

Joshua Longfield, North of England Sauce

 

Joshua Longfield’s North of England Sauce was originally manufactured by Joshua Longfield and Hugh Scott under the company name of  Longfield & Scott from 1877 to 1880. The business was listed in the 1880-81 NYC Directory as “sauces” and located at 472 Greenwich Street. Both Longfield and Scott were also listed individually at the same address. During this period the business was apparently quite successful and growing as evidenced by an advertisement in the 1879 Boston City Directory that announced H. Sawyer as their New England and Canadian agent.

In late 1880 Scott left the business, leaving Joshua Longfield as the sole proprietor. The October 9, 1880 issue of Bradstreets reported: “Longfield & Scott, sauce mfg’s, was dissolved – Longfield continues.”

Over the next 14 years the business was listed in the NYC directories as Joshua Longfield, sauces, with addresses of 472 Greenwich (1880 through 1887) and 259 Greenwich (1887 through 1892). In 1891, the business was highlighted in a publication called the “History and Commerce of New York”

Joshua Longfield, Sole Proprietor and Manufacturer of the Celebrated North of England Sauce, No. 259 Greenwich Street.- For delicious flavor, purity and quality, no table sauce yet introduced can begin to compare with the deservedly popular North of England sauce, of which Joshua Longfield, No. 259 Greenwich Street, is the manufacturer and sole proprietor. This is an article of exceptional merit, the very acme of zest givers, and commands an immense sale throughout the whole of the United States, Canada and Mexico, while it is exported largely also to Central and South America. Over one million bottles a year are sold, besides some twenty thousand gallons in bulk, and the demand grows apace. Only absolutely pure and choicest ingredients, directly imported are used in the preparation of the North of England sauce, and the greatest care is exercised in compounding the same. It is put up in quarts, pints and half-pints for the trade, and can be purchased at remarkably low prices of grocers everywhere, having immeasurably the largest sale of any sauce in America. In addition to the commodious quarters occupied at No. 259 Greenwich Street, this city, Mr. Longfield has a depot also at No. 25 South Front Street, Philadelphia, and No. 514 Hayes Street, San Francisco, Cal., and keeps on hand at these establishments a big stock. All orders for any quantity are filled in the most prompt and reliable manner, and exceedingly low prices are quoted, the most liberal inducements being offered to jobbers, hotels, restaurants and large consumers. Mr Longfield, who is a native of England, is a man of long and varied experience in the manufacture of sauces, and had devoted years of effort in experimenting before he perfected the formula according to which the “North of England” is prepared. He has engaged in manufacturing this distinctly meritorious article in New York since 1877.

Around 1894 it appears that Joshua Longfield partnered with Garret Bergen and formed the Longfield Bergen Company. Bergen was also listed at several Greenwich Street addresses dating back to the 1880-81 NYC Directory. Prior to 1894, he was usually listed with the occupation produce or sauces, but its not clear whether he worked with Longfield or was a competitor.

The 1894 NYC Directory listing for Longfield-Bergen gave their address as 528 Canal Street and included a statement that they were the “mfr’s N of England Sauce, Pride of Long Island Catsup and Grocery Sundries.” In 1896, they listed their address as 472 Greenwich, one of Joshua Longfield’s previous addresses.

According to an advertisement in the July 24, 1894 issue of the Port Jefferson Echo, during this time you could pick up a bottle of North of England Sauce for 9 cents, less than half the price of Lea & Perrin’s.

Apparently, Longfield-Bergen did not last all that long. They were listed in both the 1897 and 1898 NYC business directories under both “sauces” and “mustard.” NYS legislative documents indicate that sometime in 1898 the company legally changed their name to Bergen-Bundenbach, so I assume at this point, Longfield was no longer involved. Then by 1900 it looks like the company was in receivership. Bergen-Bundenbach was still listed in the 1900 directory but the only principal listed with the business was Edward D Farrel (receiver). According to a notice in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Garret Bergen filed for personal bankruptcy on March 31, 1901.

Bergen resurfaced in the 1903 Brooklyn Directory at 45 Newell Street with the Bergen Monagole Co. A year later, the company name changed to the Garret Bergen Co. Over the next 20 years Garret Bergen Co. was listed in the Brooklyn directories at 122 Sutton and later 248 Varet as either sauce, catsup or supplies. They were also listed in Bridgeton New Jersey between 1918 and 1924. I haven’t found any listings for them after 1926.

During this time, analyses performed by several state agricultural departments on Longfield’s Sauce (1907 Pennsylvania and 1911 Connecticut) and Pride of the Farm Catsup (1905 Connecticut, 1912 Florida and 1919 Pennsylvania) all named Garret Bergen Co. as the manufacturer. Based on this information it looks like Joshua Longfield gave up the rights to manufacture his North of England Sauce when he parted ways with Longfield-Bergen and the reorganized Garret Bergen Co. continued to manufacture it up through at least 1911 and possibly as late as 1926.

After Longfield-Bergen, Longfield continued doing business under the firm name of Longfield & Co. This company first appeared in the 1896 NYC Directory at 593 Greenwich Street and later, in 1898 and 1899 listed their address as 801 Greenwich Street.

Then on August 21, 1900 the Joshua Longfield Sauce Company was incorporated under the laws of South Dakota. Joshua Longfield was no longer involved and it’s likely that he passed away around this time.. The 1901 NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory listed the business as a South Dakota corporation with capital of $22,500 and an address of 410 West 13th Street in Manhattan. William Manger was named as the first president and Leslie M. Roberts as secretary. Longfield & Co. was also listed in the directories as a “registered trade name” of the Joshua Longfield Sauce Company. Through 1904, Longfield’s, widow, Margaret and stepson, William Horner, remained associated with the business through Longfield & Co.

In 1903 the Joshua Longfield Sauce Company moved to 122 Charles Street where they remained until 1909. The NYC directory that year listed the corporation as dissolved.

I found three mouth blown sauce bottles, each embossed “North of England Sauce” horizontally around the shoulder and “Joshua Longfield” vertically down the front. Recognizing that neither Scott or Bergen are included on the embossing they probably date between 1880 when Scott left the business and 1894 when the company name changed to Longfield-Bergen.

I also found a ketchup bottle embossed “Pride of Long Island Tomato Catsup” on one side and “Bergen’s” on the other. It’s mouth blown with screw threads and probably dates no earlier than 1904 when the company was renamed the Garret Bergen Co.