Founded in Cincinnati, Ohio, T.A. Snider was famous for their condiments, particularly their catsup, from the 1880’s up through the mid – 1900’s. Ultimately, they were absorbed by Hunts Foods, Inc.
A June 13, 1909 story in the Cincinnati Enquirer explained that the business was the product of a husband and wife team.
In the early eighties Mrs. Snider kept a boarding house on Broadway. She was a refined and talented woman, whose catsups, chili sauce and other table delicacies were celebrated. All the later creations of the company were from the formulas of Mrs. Snider, who lived long enough to see her husband begin to reap the benefits of her genius and his industry.
Another story, this one in the January, 1910 edition of the “American Pure Food and Health Journal” added:
At the time only sour catsup was known, comprised of fermented tomatoes, but Mrs. Snider’s valuable catsup recipe was made from fresh, sound, whole, ripe, red tomatoes, and thus a solid foundation was laid for a great firm whose products are known and used the world over.
The “Leading Manufacturers and Merchants of Cicinnati and its Environs,” published in 1886 stated that T. A. Snider & Co. was established in 1879 at No. 177 West Canal Street by Thomas A. Snider. The next year, according to a July 26, 1880 item in the Cincinnati Enquirer, Snider took on R. T. Skinner as partner.
Also referred to as the Cincinnati Preserving Co., the business was described in an August 14, 1880 story in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Still in its infancy, the story sounds introductory in nature yet talks of shipping to all parts of the country. I’m guessing that, in an effort to promote the new business, the local newspaper may have embellished a little.
CINCINNATI PRESERVING COMPANY
T. A. Snider & Co., proprietors, located at Nos. 177, 179 and 181 Canal Street. The firm does a business in fine goods, and the only one in the city whose leading specialty is preserves. The firm also does an immense trade in bulk goods, shipping to all parts of the country in buckets and tin-pails. Their jellies, preserves, fruit butters and marmalades are sought after by jobbers who know them throughout the United States, and no manufacturer has a better reputation for first-class goods than this firm…
Their premises are well arranged, and contain all the facilities necessary for the transaction of their large and rapidly increasing business. The season finds them in splendid working order, with every prospect of a most successful trade. Their capital is ample, and they are in every respect fully prepared to meet all requirements of the trade.
Cincinnati directories listed the T. A. Snider Co. at 132 West 2nd Street in 1881 through 1883. Whether this was another address for the Canal Street location or it moved there in late 1880 is not clear.
In any event, by 1884 the business had incorporated as The T. A. Snider Preserve Company with Snider named as president and Skinner as secretary and treasurer. Around the same time they moved to a new building at the northwest corner of Smith and Augusta. The Leading Manufacturers and Merchants of Cincinnati” described it like this:
The splendid building they now use was erected by them and occupied in 1884. It is a five-story brick, 50 x 80 feet in measurement, and arranged expressly for the accommodation of the business.
The company continued to grow at such a rapid pace that just four years later they moved again, listing their office and factory at 49 and 51 Sycamore in 1888. That year they also listed their first branch factory in Milldale Kentucky. By 1891 they were listing a second Cincinnati plant at 30 East 2nd Street.
The company’s menu of products at around that time was presented in this 1888 advertisement that appeared in a publication called “PAR Excellence A Manual of Cooking.”
While 1880 may have been a stretch, by the mid to late 1880’s Snider products were certainly being shipped to many parts of the country as evidenced by this September 18, 1888 news item that appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer.
A Catsup Train
A few days ago the Big Four and Kankakee Line took out of here an elegant train of fifteen cars of catsup, the product of the T. A. Snider Preserve Company. This is the largest single shipment of the kind ever made, and shows that this enterprising Cincinnati firm has distanced all competitors in their line…While Chicago may be ahead in dressed beef, Cincinnati will”catsup” to her in other products.
An October 12, 1890 story in the San Francisco Examiner made it clear that by then their products had reached the west coast. The story, centered around the San Francisco Mechanic’s Fair, highlighted Snider’s exhibit.
The artistic display which the T. A. Snider Preserve Company of Cincinnati makes is a feature of the fair. The Pacific Coast Mercantile Company are the general agents for their products on this coast, which will in the near future be as well and as favorably known here as they are now in the East.
Another story describing the fair mentioned that Mrs. Snider was still involved with the business at that time as well.
Behind the counter stands Mrs. T. A. Snider, who has the reputation of being one of the most expert housekeepers in the State of Ohio, but all her grace and persuasive manners would fail to draw the crowd as it does were it not for the superior purity and excellence of the material she offers each, served in a dainty little cup and partaken of with gusto. These samples are of the Snider Catsup and Tomato Soup, without which no cuisine in Eastern cities would deem itself complete.
This June 1890 advertisement in “Scribners” magazine touts both the catsup and soup mentioned in the above story.
Snider managed the business up until 1901 at which point long time employee Jefferson Livingston acquired controlling interest (75 percent) in the company.
For the next several years Cincinnati directories listed Livingston as president and Snider as vice president. Subsequently, on June 12, 1909, Livingston acquired the remaining 25 percent. The June 13, 1909 edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported the transaction.
A great financial deal was completed yesterday, which will be of interest not only to the business men of this city, but will attract attention throughout the country. On that date Jefferson Livingston gave a check for $170,000 to T. A. Snider, founder of the T. A. Snider Preserve Company, for his remaining one-fourth interest in the firm. The transaction makes Mr. Livingston absolute owner of the big establishment…
By this time, in addition to their Cincinnati facilities,the company operated six branch factories; one in Ohio and the others in neighboring Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.
The story went on to say:
The company is the largest manufacturer of catsup in the world, and it is to be found on the tables of every first-class restaurant in Europe and America. Other products of the concern, all of which enjoy an international sale and popularity, are chili sauce, pork and beans, salad dressing, oyster cocktail sauce and tomato soup.
This early teens advertisement mentioned their pork & beans in addition to their catsup.
According to Court records, (Wade L. Street, et.al. as Executors of the Last Will and Testament of Jefferson Livingston, Deceased, Petitioners v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Respondent) Livingston dissolved the corporation in 1911 and operated the business as a sole proprietorship up until August, 1920. It was during this period, likely sometime in 1913, that he moved its main plant and office to Chicago, Illinois where it was listed with an address of 168 N Michigan Avenue.
The court records go on to say that in 1920 he re-incorporated the business and between 1920 and 1923 was looking for a buyer, ultimately selling it to New York Canners, Inc., in February 1923. Just before the sale, Moody’s 1922 Analyses of Investments reported that the company had nine separate packing plants in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Delaware and Florida and was valued at almost $1.3 million.
Some background on the Rochester, New York based New York Canners Inc., can be found in a July 21, 1923 item published in the”Magazine on Wall Street:”
New York Canners, Inc. was incorporated in 1919 and acquired the business and properties of several companies engaged in canning fruits and vegetables in New York State. The principal companies taken over, namely – Winters and Prophet Canning Co., Fort Stanwix Canning Co., Burt Olney Canning Company and Cobb Preserving Co., have been established for a long period of years and their products distributed under their own brands throughout the United States.
The item goes on to say:
In February 1923, the company purchased control of the T. A. Snider Preserve Co… The acquisition has given the company a distribution of special food products and condiments which supplement its previous lines.
A little over two years after the acquisition this description of the New York Canner’s business in a December 4, 1925 stock offering, demonstrated the standing of the Snider brand within the organization.
The company (including subsidiaries) is the largest packer and distributor of vegetables, fruits and jams in the United States, outside of California, and through its principal subsidiary, manufactures and distributes the nationally known Snider brands of catsup and chili sauce. The company’s products have a long established reputation for high quality and excellence and are marketed principally under the widely advertised Snider, Lily of the Valley. Burt Olney and Flag labels.
Ultimately, New York Canners, Inc. adopted the Snider name at a May 2, 1927 stockholders meeting. The May 3, 1927 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle announced the name change.
The stockholders also voted approval of a change in name to Snider Packing Corporation, thus directly identifying the corporation with its subsidiary, the T. A. Snider Preserve Company and its famous “Snider” products.
Around the same time the corporation, now called Snider Packing, Inc., incorporated a new wholly owned subsidiary with the New York Canners name. According to a May 6, 1932 article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, this new company handled distribution while the T.A. Snider Preserve Company handled production. Together they employed approximately 450 permanent workers however, during the June through December canning season the addition of temporary workers could increase that number to upwards of 7,000. The article went on to say that at that time the company owned and operated 27 plants with total floor space of about 1,550,500 square feet in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Illinois and Indiana.
The Snider Packing Corporation merged with General Foods on June 23, 1943. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported the transaction.
Stockholders of the Snider Packing Corporation yesterday voted to merge the company with General Foods Corporation, and all assets of Snider will be delivered to General Foods at 10 a.m. today at 250 Park Avenue, New York City.
Bert C. Olney, Snider president will become general manager of the Snider Packing Division of General Foods Corporation.
Under General Foods’ management advertisements in Life Magazine, published during the mid to late 1940’s, show that they continued to manufacture their catsup as well as several other long time products including their preserves as well as their chili and cocktail sauces.
Ten years later, a January 7, 1953 item in the San Francisco Examiner announced that Hunts Foods, Inc., had acquired both the Snider business and label.
Hunts Foods, Inc., has purchased the Snider condiment business from General Foods it was announced jointly today by Frederick R. Weisman, president of Hunts Foods, and G. O. Bailey, vice president of General Foods.
The announcement said the purchase includes the Snider label and trade mark and Snider factories at Albion, N. Y., and Fairmount,Ind.
We plan to continue full use of the Snider label and to integrate the Snider operation into our overall activities.
Snider catsup continued to be mentioned in grocery store advertisements up until the early 1970’s.
The bottle I found is certainly a half-pint catsup bottle with screw threads. The 1888 advertisement reproduced above from “Par Excellence A Manual of Cooking” mentioned that the company was using the screw thread finish on their catsup bottles by that time.
Packed in handsome screw top bottles, with non corrosive caps, thus overcoming the great annoyance and bad appearance of the old fashioned cork stoppers.
Mouth blown, embossing on the base of the bottle includes the Cincinnati location indicating that it was made no later than 1914 when the company left Cincinnati for Chicago.
While the bottle has no maker’s mark, according to this February 23, 1900 news item in the (Mansfield Ohio) News Journal, it could have been made in Cincinnati by the Muncie Glass Company.
Big Bottle Contract
Cincinnati. Feb 23. – The Muncie Glass Company, whose new factories are being built here secured the contract to furnish the entire requirements of the T. A. Snider Preserve Company for catsup bottles amounting to enough for one thousand car loads of finished goods.
On a final note, T.A. Snider, retired, widowed and apparently remarried, died tragically in June, 1912. The June, 12 edition of the Retail Grocers Advocate reported the sad news.
Thos. A. Snider of Cincinnati and his bride of three months were instantly killed near Erie Penn., when their machine in which they were making a transcontinental tour was struck and demolished by a fast train of the Lakeshore Railroad. Mr. Snider was over 70 years of age , the originator of the famous Snider’s Catsup, through which he became a millionaire several times over.