Wayne County Produce Co., Greenpoint, Long Island

The Wayne County Produce Company was a manufacturer of cider and vinegar that was headquartered in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn for over 60 years

The Company’s founder and first president was a German immigrant named Peter Knecht. His obituary, published in the January 21, 1916 edition of Brooklyn’s “Times Union,” gets the company’s story started.

Mr Knecht was born in Bavaria, Germany, on May 19, 1844, and came to this country in 1855. He settled in Calicoon, Sullivan County, N.Y., and also lived in Galilee, Wayne County, Pa., before coming to Brooklyn in 1878.

According to a story published in the September 24, 1905 edition of the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle,” the company was established sometime in 1901.  Initially called the Wayne County Produce Cider & Vinegar Company, it was listed in Brooklyn’s 1902 directory with an address of 202 Oakland Street. Certainly a family affair, the directory named Peter Knecht as president, his brother, Charles Knecht, treasurer and son, Peter N. Knecht, secretary.

That being said, the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle” story made it clear that while Peter was president, it was Charles who served as general manager of the operation.

Charles Knecht, who is the proprietor of the Wayne County Produce company, is a pioneer of the trade. For the past thirty-two years he has been in the business, twenty-seven of which were spent with the John Doust Company.

Two years after it was established, the business incorporated as the Wayne County Produce Company. Their incorporation notice was published in the May 14, 1903 edition of the “Times Union.”

The Wayne County Produce Company, of Brooklyn, has been incorporated with the Secretary of State. Its capital is placed at $30,000, consisting of shares of $100 each, and the directors for the first year are as follows: Peter Knecht, Charles Knecht, Peter M. Knecht and Edward F. Knecht, of Brooklyn.

At the time it appears that all manufacturing, bottling and distribution was accomplished in their factory that was located, along with their offices, in the block bounded by Greenpoint Avenue, Oakland Street, Calder Street and Newell Street. The 1905 “Brooklyn Daily Eagle’ story summarized the operation like this.

The apple juice is brought from the upstate counties, particularly from the section just north of Albany, and near the town of Raven, in barrels. The pure apple juice is of course cider. The cider is taken from the barrels, placed in a large vat, from which it is allowed to run into a generator, which is tightly packed with rattan. Sugar is also used in the process, and the combination changes the juice into vinegar…

The  story then went on to provide this brief description of their Greenpoint plant.

The Wayne County Produce Company, which has a large plant at 200 Oakland Street, Greenpoint, is one of the foremost of the companies in the cider and vinegar trade in New York. In the company’s plant there are at present eight large tanks, or vats, which have a capacity of about 500 barrels. From these vats the cider, or vinegar, is barreled by means of hose, which is thoroughly sterilized before the beginning of each day’s work.

Several years later, this June 1, 1911 item found in the “Times Union” suggests by then they were manufacturing their vinegar at an upstate New York plant before shipping the product to their facility in Greenpoint, which now included a second location on Meserole Avenue, for bottling and distribution.

Bottled goods are a specialty with the Wayne County Produce Company, located at 200 to 206 Oakland Street and 179 to 193 Meserole Avenue. The concern produces cider and vinegar received from its country branch upstate, and the products are bottled and distributed from the two Greenpoint depots.

This advertisement, published in the same edition of the “Times Union,” mentioned both Greenpoint distribution points.

Around the same time their Greenpoint bottling operation was described like this in an August 31, 1912 item in the “Times Union.”

The bottling and labeling departments are conducted on the most cleanly up-to-date methods…The daily sales in bottles of Vinegar alone runs about 500 dozen. None of the empty bottles come back.

Newspaper advertisements  for their cider and vinegar that ran during the 1920’s exhibit the the same ribbed style bottle as that of the subject bottle.

That being said, Thanksgiving and Christmas advertisements in 1922 make it clear that bottles weren’t the only way to get your cider.

By the mid-1920’s the company was operating as many as nine plants in upstate New York, as evidenced by this story that appeared in the October 31, 1925 edition of Brooklyn’s “Standard Union.”

At Marion, N.Y., the newest plant of the company was recently opened. Here a staff of 100 men, working under the most sanitary conditions, turn 250,000 pounds of apples into cider and vinegar each day during October, November and December.

Eighty-three tanks with an average capacity of 72,000 gallons each, store the cider and vinegar for the months when apples cannot be obtained. Others of the company’s plants are located at Highlands, Kendall, Catskill, Modena, Albion, Red Hook, Cheviot and Clintondale, all in New York State, in counties where the finest apples are grown.

That being said their main office and distributing plant remained at their Oakland Street location where, according to the 1925 “Standard Union” story:

Twenty-five horse drawn trucks operate from here, with fourteen auto trucks, delivering the bulk of apple products. Tank cars are used for shipments to the Middle West.

Around this time the company was advertising four different vinegar types; Cider, White, Malt and Tarragon, all of which are mentioned in this February 1, 1927 “Standard Union” advertisement.

In the Fall of 1929 the company began advertising apple sauce in addition to their cider and vinegar. One of the first ads I can find was this New Year’s advertisement for Wayne County Cider that appeared in the December 30, 1929 edition of the New York “Daily News.” A reference to their apple sauce which appears introductory in nature, appeared at the bottom of the advertisement.

Later, certainly by 1936, the company had added pepper relish and jellies/ preserves to the menu as well, as evidenced by this March 23, 1936 advertisement in the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle.”

The company was still advertising in the late 1950’s. This ad for their cider, now in “handy new 4-packs,” appeared in several 1957 editions of “Newsday”

In  1960, the company’s run was coming to an end. By then they had lost at least one of their upstate plants when the Marion N.Y. plant was put up for public auction. The auction notice appeared in the January 3, 1960 edition of Rochester New York’s “Democrat and Chronicle.”

Three years later the business was sold. Today the business is run under the name of “Wayne County Foods.” Their web site, http://waynecountyfoods.com, completes the story.

In 1963 the company was purchased by the Nemeth family. Vincent Nemeth, a Master Cooper had been making barrels and tanks for the wine industry in Hungary before immigrating to America with his wife Katherine after WW II. At the time of their purchase they were operating out of Brooklyn, New York. In 1969 Vincent’s son Peter joined the company, carrying on the tradition of supplying natural food products to greater New York markets. By 1975 they had outgrown their Brooklyn facility and moved to the Bronx, operating their growing business from this location for 24 years. Once again having outgrown their current facility, in 1999 they moved to their current location in New Jersey.

The bottle I found is machine made, 10 inches tall and contains 20 ounces.  A little over 2-1/2 inches  in diameter, its design actually consists of 10 narrow, vertical panels. The bottle matches those pictured in advertisements published during the 1920’s.


As early as 1935 and throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s their cider was available in several sizes, namely quarts, as well as half-gallon and gallon jugs. This December 18, 1947 advertisement in the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle” mentioned all three sizes.

Finally, here’s the 1940’s version of what is likely their quart size, found in the October 13, 1949 edition of the “Mount Vernon Argus.”

C. B. Ellin’s Horseradish, New York


Clifford B. Ellin was a native New Yorker born in 1880. He was active in New York City’s wholesale grocery trade during the first two decades of the twentieth century before relocating to Morrisville, in Bucks County,  Pennsylvania.

His business career began at the age of twenty when he  partnered with Charles S. Heron forming  C.B. Ellin & Company. Located in the Bronx, N.Y., the company was first listed in the 1901 N.Y.C. Copartnership and Corporation Directory at 769 East 167th Street.

A year later, the 1902 edition of the same directory listed their address as 1238 Brook Avenue. During this time N.Y.C general directories identified Ellin’s occupation as “teas.”

C.B. Ellin & Company was no longer listed in the 1906 N.Y.C Copartnership and Corporation Directory (the next one I have access to) and after 1903 Ellin’s general directory listing drops the Brook Avenue address; all suggesting that sometime between 1903 and 1905 the formal partnership between Ellin and Heron was dissolved.

Later, sometime in 1906, Ellin apparently went into business for himself as a wholesale dealer in both “pickles” and “horseradish.” Now located in lower Manhattan, the business was originally listed at 425 Greenwich Street until sometime around 1909 when it moved to 503 Greenwich Street

An item in the September, 1915 edition of a publication called “Simmon’s Spice Mill” referred to C.B. Ellin as “the headquarters for horseradish root in wholesale quantities.” The item appeared under the heading: “Queries and Answers of Special Interest.”

Fresh Horse Radish Root

“M. S.,” of Marion, N. C. asks: “Will you do us the favor of telling us from whom we may obtain fresh horse radish root?”

Ans.- C. B. Ellin, 503 Greenwich St., New York, is headquarters for horseradish root in wholesale quantities. We understand that at the present time, however, there is no actually fresh horseradish root on the market and that there will not be any root on the market until after September; but correspondent can obtain cold storage horseradish root from the above named firm.

The company remained at 503 Greenwich Street until 1918 or 1919 when Ellin apparently closed up shop.

By 1920, Ellin had moved to Morrisville, Pennsylvania where, according to a March 12, 1920 story in the Bristol (Pa.) Daily Courier, he established a business operating a bus route between Morrisville and Trenton, N.J. By then he was also serving on the Morrisville Borough Council.

The jar I found is eight-sided and measures 2-1/4-inches wide at the base. Towards the top it transitions to an approximate 1-3/4-inch round opening. It dates to the 1906 to 1918 time period when Ellin marketed horseradish. Blown in a mold, it likely trends to the early end of that range.


Leslie Dunham & Co., Brooklyn, N.Y., 1-lb. Pure Honey


Leslie, Dunham & Company were wholesale dealers in honey, maple syrup and sugar that operated in Brooklyn, N. Y. from 1888 to 1908. Ultimately the company opened another location in New Jersey where they continued in business until the mid 1920’s and possibly longer.

Their honey was sold with brand names like “Orange Blossom,” and “Choice Extra Clover,” while their maple syrup brands were, among others, “Green Mountain” and “Maple Twig.” “Green Mountain” was apparently one of  their most popular.

The company’s founder and long time senior member was a native Canadian of Scottish descent named Charles G. Leslie who settled in Pittsfield, Massachusetts sometime after arriving in the United States in 1848. According to his September 27, 1907 obituary published in the “Berkshire Eagle:”

Mr. Leslie was born in St. Bridget, Canada, moving to the United States when a young man. He spent most of his life in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he was actively engaged in business, being the head of the firm of Leslie, Dunham & Co., which he established some 50 years ago.

The above obituary suggests that the business was established sometime around 1860, a fact that’s referenced in several of the company’s business cards published years later in the Brooklyn city directories.

That year census records listed both Charles G. Leslie and Darius W. Dunham as farmers living in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts.  The census records, along with the obituary of Darius Dunham, published in the 1896 edition of the “Pittsfield Sun,” indicate that in 1859 Leslie married Dunham’s daughter Malissa. So the Leslie’s and Dunhams certainly had a personal relationship by then.

That being said, through the early 1870’s there’s no reference to either Leslie, Dunham or the company in the city directories for Brooklyn, New York City or even Boston for that matter, so any business apparently remained local to Pittsfield during that time.

That changed in the mid-1870’s when both Charles G. Leslie, along with Darius Dunham’s son, Jasper T., both began to appear in the Brooklyn directories with the occupation of “syrup manufacturer” and/or “honey” albeit at separate locations; Charles G. at 150 Nassau Street, and Jasper T. at 478 4th Avenue. During the early 1880’s Jasper also spent some time across the Hudson River in Jersey City where he was listed with the occupation of “honey” at 133 Coles Street.

Whether a partnership existed at this point is not clear, however by 1888 they were certainly in business together when this item appeared in the March 24th edition of the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle.”

On Greene Avenue near Grand, Messrs. Leslie & Dunham are about to build a two story brick factory 25 x 95, to cost $8,000.

Subsequently in Brooklyn’s 1890 “Lains Business Directory” the Leslie, Dunham & Company name appears for the first time with an address of 275 Greene Avenue.  That year , their business card was included with the directory listing.

Also listed individually at the Greene Avenue address were both Charles G. Leslie and Jasper T. Dunham along  with Leslie’s son, Merwin. The business remained on Greene Avenue for the next 20 years, listing 281 Greene as their address in later years.

Apparently a relatively small operation, the New York State Factory Inspector’s Report for the Year Ending November 30, 1900 listed seven full time employees, all working a 60 hour week.

In 1904 the company opened a second location, this one at 252 Livingston Street in Newark, New Jersey, where the 1904 Newark Directory named Merwin Leslie as “plant superintendent.”

In 1908, with Charles Leslie having passed away the year before and Dunham either retired or having taken a step back (he passed away in 1944 at the age of 96), the Brooklyn plant disappeared from the Brooklyn directories. The Newark operation, with Merwin now listed as principal, remained at the Livingston Avenue location until sometime in the mid-teens at which time it relocated to 644 Montgomery Street in Jersey City. The company was still located there in 1925 (the latest directory I have access to).

It’s not clear when the business came to an end, however, Merwin Leslie was still living in New Jersey and continued to list his occupation as “merchant, maple products” in the 1930 census records, so its possible the life of the business extended into the 1930’s.

The bottle I found is 6-1/2-inches tall with a 2-1/4-inch square cross section that transitions to an approximate 1-3/4-inch round opening. Its embossing includes the “Brooklyn, N. Y.” location, dating it between 1888 and 1908.



Wm. P. Hartley, Liverpool, London

The name Hartley has been continuously associated with the manufacture of jams, jellies and marmalades for over 150 years.

The company’s founder and namesake, Wiliam Pickles (his mother’s maiden name) Hartley, was born in the small English town of  Colne in 1846. His biography entitled “The Life of Sir William Hartley,” by Arthur S. Peake, published in 1926, described his birthplace like this:.

Sir William was born at Colne, a small but pleasant little town in East Lancashire on the edge of Yorkshire, a few miles north of Burnley. It is situated on a high ridge and is affectionately called by its inhabitants “Bonnie Colne-on-the-Hill.”

According to Hartley’s obituary, found in the October 28, 1922 edition of the “Cheltenham Chronicle and Gloucestershire Graphic,” he left school at the age of thirteen to help out in his mother’s grocery store and by sixteen had established his own wholesale grocery business. This puts Hartley’s start in business sometime in the early 1860’s.

In 1870, a classified advertisement that appeared in the August 1st edition of the “Leeds Mercury,” described the Hartley business as a “Wholesale Drysaltery,” with an address of “Cloth Hall” in Colne.” At the time, Hartley was attempting to hire an assistant best described as a “jack of all trades;” part bookkeeper, part salesman and part warehouse worker, suggesting that his operation was still quite small at this juncture.

According to his obituary:

Among the goods he supplied was jam…It was sent to retailers in 14-lb. jars, and customers had to take a cup or jar for their pound or half pound.

The obituary goes on to say:

Difficulties with makers led him in 1871 to start manufacturing jam for himself.

Another of Hartley’s classified advertisements, this one in the October 5, 1872 edition of the “Leeds Mercury,” indicated his need to hire a “SUGAR BOILER,” so it appears by then his jam business was beginning to gain traction.

Less than two years later, Hartley, now committed to manufacturing jam, sold the drysaltery and established what he called a “confectionery works” in Bootle, Liverpool. This had certainly taken place by the Spring of 1875 at which time he was looking to hire someone with “extensive and practical knowledge in the manufacture of preserves, jellies and marmalade” to manage it.

While most of the classified advertisements that Hartley ran appeared in local English newspapers, the above ad appeared in several March, 1875 editions of Scotland’s “Glasgow Herald.” This suggests that he was attempting to lure someone away from the well established Scottish business of James Keiller & Son, the makers of “Dundee Marmalade.”

The following year advertisements for Hartley’s preserves and marmalades began appearing in local newspapers. One of the earliest touting them as “Equal to Home Made.” appeared in the May 1, 1876 edition of the “Liverpool Daily Post.”

Another ad, building on the “home made” concept, appeared later that year in the December 19th edition of the “Leicester Daily Mercury.”

The business grew considerably over its first decade as evidenced by a letter Hartley wrote to the editor of the “Derby Mercury.” It appeared in their  April 23, 1884 edition.

All the gooseberries, raspberries, strawberries, black currants, damsons and blackberries used by me are entirely English – no foreign whatever being used – and to prove that the quantity is not particularly small, my usual season’s make is:- Gooseberry, 800 tons; raspberry, 800 tons; strawberry, 200 tons; black currant, 400 tons; damson, 600 tons; blackberry,100 tons.

Not long after this letter was written, Hartley was in the planning stages for a new factory, this one located in nearby Aintree. The September 4, 1885 edition of the “Ardsley and Winslow Advertiser:” provided the details.

The Liverpool Journal of Commerce gives some interesting particulars respecting a mammoth preserve factory that is to be erected. Mr. William P. Hartley, who has earned a high reputation in Liverpool and throughout the kingdom for the manufacture of preserves, has succeeded in purchasing a farm of forty-seven acres about four miles north of Liverpool Exchange and about two miles from his present premises. On this farm Mr. Hartley intends to erect new works, which when completed will be capable of producing one hundred tons of preserves per day.

The move to Aintree was accomplished the following Spring as evidenced by an item that appeared in the May 19, 1886 edition of the ‘Liverpool Mercury.” It announced that Hartley’s former Bootle site was up for sale.

A tour of the new Aintree facility was featured in a  July 2, 1888 story published in the “Liverpool Mercury.” The facility, as described in the story, certainly had a “campus-like” feel to it.

In shape the works are oblong, and consist of a single story, with a chimney and water tower in the center, the handsome frontage being relieved with castellated entrance gates and broken by abutting offices and dining rooms for male and female employees. Railway sidings, partially covered, run on two sides of the works and cart roads on the other two, and there are ornamental grounds and a girls’ recreation ground along the frontage. A central covered street divides the manufactory from the warehouses, and the workpeople in passing on this trunk road turn either to the right or left direct into their respective departments. The works alone, without the grounds or sidings, cover nearly four acres, and 1420 hands are employed. In the warehouse is storage capacity for 6-1/2 million 2lb. jars, allowing ample space for the working of the tramways on which 100 “bogey” carriages are often running at once. Every room and all the appliances are proportionately constructed for the production of 100 tons of preserves every day in the fruit season, the making of marmalade and candied peel occupying the remaining months.

The story went on to say that Hartley wasn’t done.

the visitors also inspected the plans of a model village – a local Saltaire – which Mr. Hartley is about to erect for the housing of his workpeople.

By the early 1890’s another story, this one in the  May 2, 1891 edition of the “Leeds Mercury,” announced that the “model village” was nearing completion.

A MODEL INDUSTRIAL COMMUNITY.- Mr. W. P. Hartley’s Marmalade and Preserve Works at Aintree have within a surprisingly short period grown to vast dimensions, so much so that the business carried on may be considered one of the most successful branches of industry in the North of England. The works and premises are unique, being so self-contained, for, from the proprietor’s handsome mansion to the managers’ pretty villas and workpeople’s cozy cottages, all are clustered in well-arranged order, and are entered from a handsome and spacious boulevard, which is laid out and planted in Parisian style. So rapidly does this business increase that new six-story warehouses are being added to the already extensive works, and Mr. Hartley, to give a finishing touch to this model village, is building a noble clock tower one hundred feet in height. The tower will be fitted with a clock of the greatest power and accuracy: the illuminated dials, four in number, will be visible for a considerable distance, as they will measure seven feet in diameter each, while the bell which is being cast will weigh thirty hundredweight, and will have a hammer power of over one hundred pounds.

Certainly committed to his employees, at around the same time Hartley was opening his new Aintree facility he was also making organizational improvements to their benefit. One was the institution of a profit sharing plan that included disbursements on a semi-annual basis. A dinner associated with one such disbursement was described in the December 23, 1891 edition of the “Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser.” The story mentioned several other employee benefits as well including meals and medical benefits.

Last Saturday evening, the workpeople in the employ of Mr. W. P. Hartley, preserves and marmalade manufacturer, of Aintree, Liverpool, participated in their seventh profit sharing. A very enjoyable entertainment proceeded the distribution of 385 envelopes containing various sums of money. Mr. Hartley in his speech, said that cheap and tasty dinners were now being provided for those work people who came from a distance, and that he had also arranged with Dr. Sugden for free attendance and medicine to all employed at the works.

Years later, the observations of an American businessman who had the opportunity to visit the Aintree plant in the late 1920’s make it quite clear as to the impact Hartley’s business and programs had on both his employees and the town of Aintree in general. The observations were included in a March 4, 1928 story published in the Brooklyn “Times Union.”

We motored from Liverpool to Aintree, the home of Hartley’s marmalade, on a beautiful winter morning. Our first impression was one of amazement at the tremendous size of the works, more extensive than the plant of any food product manufacturer in America. The town of Aintree, a small city in itself, is built up around the Hartley factories. The Hartley plant is the sole industry of the community; everyone old and young, is dependent on it and vitally interested in it. The company is like a feudal lord around whose home is gathered all his retainers, rejoicing in his power and happy in their service. A walk through the neat town, glimpses into the tidy, comfortable homes of employees. Conversations with workers, their wives and families, disclosed the illuminating fact that here is a cheerful, contented community of healthy, industrious people, all loyal to the company, and among whom labor troubles and dissatisfaction are unknown.

An aerial photograph of the plant and surrounding area, likely taken around the time the above observations were written was found in the “Romance of Great Businesses,” by William Henry Beable, published in 1926.

Right from the start the Aintree factory was apparently operating  at its full daily capacity of 100 tons. In fact, according to a May 28, 1890 story in the “Birmingham Daily Post,” it occasionally exceeded that capacity.

The story mentioned that its 105 ton output that day  filled 118,495 2-lb. jars and occupied 90 railway wagons. On a single day two years later, a similar story announced that the number of jars filled had reached 145,000.

So, bursting at the seams, Hartley was forced to expand again and in 1901 opened a second factory in London. The announcement was published in the June 26, 1901 edition of the “Liverpool Mercury.”

Yesterday afternoon Mr. W. P. Hartley’s new preserve works in Bermondsey, London were opened, in order to add ten million jars of preserves to the output of the famous Aintree establishment. The factory is of palatial dimensions, and will give employment to about 700 hands.

The story went on to present the reasoning behind the new location in Hartley’s own words.

In connection with the inauguration a luncheon was given at the Criterion Restaurant, London.

Addressing the gathering, Mr. W. P. Hartley said:… It is only during recent years that we have made any attempt to do a London trade – even that was not sought for by us, but was caused by numerous inquiries from private individuals, as to where our brand of preserves and marmalade could be obtained in London. This arose through ladies and gentlemen from the North and Midlands, who had been accustomed to regularly use our goods, coming to reside in London, and also not a few Londoners who purchased them at various seaside resorts. Although our output at Aintree, Liverpool, is over a hundred tons a day, this was not equal to the demand. It therefore became necessary either to enlarge the works at Aintree, or erect works in London.

A rendering of Hartley’s London works also appeared in the “Romance of Great Businesses.”

With the new factory on line, a June 26th advertisement in London’s “Daily Telegraph” announced that the company had increased capacity to over 1,000 tons per week, almost double the weekly 600 ton (100 tons per day) output of Aintree alone.

The advertisement also makes it clear that by then the company had added bottled fruits to their menu.

Shortly after the London expansion, Hartley began advertising table jellies; the first ads appearing in the Spring of 1902. The following was typical of these early ads.

This June 22, 1923 edition of the “Gloucestershire Echo” mentioned their table jellies along with their jams and marmalades, stressing their usage by British  soldiers and sailors during World War I.

Out of all the scores of millions of packages of jam sent to our Sailors and our Soldiers during the Great War by Wm. P. Hartley, there was never a single complaint received either about short weight or about quality.

Ask the soldiers whose jam they like best.

During the early 1900’s Hartley was also adding flavors to the jam menu. One was apricot which, as far as I can tell, was included in advertisements beginning around 1911. This rather detailed advertisement for their Apricot Jam appeared in the October 24, 1924 edition of the “Midland Counties Tribune.”

The addition of new flavors continued into the 1930’s with the introduction of a marmalade flavor called “Bittersweet.” The fan fare associated with its unveiling included a celebrity endorsement and a gala luncheon at the Savoy Hotel, London, all of which was reported in a headlined newspaper story that was in truth, nothing more than a Hartley’s advertisement. The story, repeated in part below, appeared in several English newspapers in February, 1931.

It was a happy idea of Messrs. Wm. P. Hartley, Ltd., to invite Miss Evelyn Laye, the popular heroine of Mr. Noel Coward’s successful Musical Comedy “Bitter Sweet,” to christen their new “Bitter Sweet” Marmalade. This she did at a Luncheon Party held quite recently in the Ball Room of the Savoy Hotel, London.

The Chairman (Mr. A.W. Hewson, the London Managing Director of Wm. P. Hartley, Ltd.) in welcoming Miss Laye assured her that if her name was in future associated with Hartley’s “Bitter Sweet” Marmalade, she might feel absolutely certain that the product would maintain that high standard of quality alone worthy of such an association…

Meanwhile the Savoy chefs were busy in their kitchen boiling the first batch of the new Marmalade, to make which Seville oranges had been brought specially by air that morning. At the close of the luncheon two chefs bore it into the Ball Room in a huge copper preserving pan which they placed on a table in the center of the room. Such an event was unique even in the history of the Savoy hotel, which is among the most famous in the world.

Then to the strains of the familiar waltz from “Bitter Sweet,” Miss Laye (who looked ravishing in a pale beige pony skin costume and small beige hat) walked to the table and tasted a spoonful of the Marmalade.

“Simply delicious,” she said, and, in formally christening it “Bitter Sweet,” remarked that, “ever since she was a little girl she had known Hartley’s Jams and Marmalade, and could speak very highly of them. As a title, she said, “Bitter Sweet” is truly descriptive of the aromatic bitter taste released directly when the teeth pierce the thick, mellow, tender peel – and how succulent is the lovely sweet jelly! Miss Laye wished the new product all the success that has attended the delightful operetta “Bitter Sweet.”

In 1933 the Hartley business added the canning of vegetables to their operation. The company’s entrance into this new field was announced in the June 23, 1933 edition of the “Liverpool Echo.”


When Lord Derby opens Messrs. William P. Hartley’s vegetable canning factory at Aintree on July 7, he will be launching an enterprise that will immediately benefit some seventy Lancashire farmers, and provide employment for hundreds of workers on the land or in the factory itself.

The farmers who have been very hard hit owing to the low prices which potatoes have been fetching in the markets, have already sown about 400 acres of peas and French beans to meet initial requirements.

“Vegetable canning is an entirely new industry in this part of England,” Mr. Arnold Barkby, a director of the firm, stated today. ” At first, we shall be canning mainly peas and French beans, but later we expect to handle asparagus, spinach, celery and small carrots, the growing of which will further assist local farmers.

“All the machinery in the new factory is of British manufacture, and the plant will have an output of 100 cans per minute…

Though the founder, William P. Hartley, passed away in 1922, the business was still under the full control of the Hartley family when the canning operation went on line. According to a July 8, 1933 “Liverpool Post and Mercury” story:

The opening by Lord Derby at Aintree yesterday of Messrs. Hartley’s pea canning factory reminds me that this firm, which now employs 3,000 people and has nearly eight miles of miniature railway, is still controlled by the Hartley family.

Miss Christiana Hartley, the chairman, confessed yesterday that she never dreamed she would be called upon to occupy that onerous position. She indicated, however, that her father, the late Sir William, had great faith in a woman’s judgement, and when she was quite young used to confide to her all sorts of details concerning the business – details which she has recently found of great value. Under her chairmanship the board today comprises five grandsons of Sir William.

Later the company expanded further, establishing factories in Peterborough and Hereford. According to an October 23, 1959 story in the “Peterborough Standard,” the Peterborough factory was established in 1948. When the Herford factory was established is unclear.

The Hartley family was still in control of the business when, in 1959, Schweppes announced a take-over bid. London’s “Evening Standard” covered the announcement in their October 19th  issue.

The 17,400,000 (pound) Schweppes tonic water and bitter lemon group today made a surprise 2,100,000 (pound) take-over bid for the Wm. P. Hartley jam and jelly firm. The Hartley chief, Mr. William Hartley Higham, and the members of his family are to collect more than 1,000,000 (pounds) under the deal.

Mr. Higham advises his shareholders to accept the Schweppes bid. Members of the Hartley family “owning more than half the shares” have already said “Yes” to the offer…Four of the firm’s five directors are members of the family.

In mid November the “Birmingham Mail” reported that the acquisition was a “done deal.”

Schweppes Ltd. announces that having received acceptances in respect of more than 90 percent of the issued ordinary share capital of William P. Harley,Ltd., it has declared offer unconditional. Offer remains open for acceptnce until November 30.

Today, Hartley brand products are still manufactured by the “Hain Daniels Group.”

Their website states:

Our jam heritage originally dates back to 1805, when James Chivers started making jam for his family business. Later, in 1871, William Pickles Hartley followed down the same path, and started producing jams, jellies and marmalades.

Today we are still Britain’s best loved jam selling enough each year to spread over 300 million pieces of toast.

In the United States, as early as 1890, despite William Hartley’s claim that prior to building his London factory he had no interest in expanding beyond the North and Midlands of England, at least some of his product was making its way across the Atlantic. The first evidence of this that I can find is an advertisement announcing that a shipment of Hartley’s jams had just arrived in Philadelphia on the British steamer “Princess.” The ad appeared in the October 31, 1890 edition of the “Philadelphia Inquirer.”

Mention of  Hartley’s marmalade and jams also appeared sporadically in early 1890’s grocery store advertisements, primarily in Pittsburgh and Detroit.

Later that decade the firm of R. U. Delapenha began serving as Hartley’s U.S. agent. As early as September, 1899, a  list produced by the U.S. Government’s Agricultural Station for North Dakota identified Delapenha as  Hartley’s retailer. (At the time, the U.S. government was taking issue with the marmalade’s salicylic acid content).

According to Rudolph Delapenha’s obituary, found in Paterson New Jersey’s “Morning Call, his firm was founded two years earlier, in 1897.”

Born in Jamaica. British West Indies, he came to this country in 1888 and became a salesman for Rockwood & Co., Brooklyn chocolate firm. Four years later he joined Alexis Godillot and Co., New York importers of fancy groceries. He made his home in Montclair (N.J.) from 1897, when he founded his own importing business.

As early as 1899, Delapenha’s business was listed in the New York City directories as a grocer and importer of fancy groceries, confections etc. Originally listed with an address of 81 Murray Street in lower Manhattan, by the early 1900’s the company had moved to 17 Jay Street. This R. U. Delapenha  advertisement for Hartley’s Marmalade appeared in the September 20, 1927 edition of the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle.”

As far as I can tell, R.U. Delapenha continued to act as Hartley’s agent right up to the Schweppes acquisition.

Over the years I’ve found Hartley’s stoneware jars in two sizes. The larger is 3-inches in diameter, 4-inches tall, and likely their two pound size. Embossed on the base is the phrase “Not Genuine Unless Bearing Wm P. Hartley’s Label.” A 2006 publication entitled “The Importance of British Material Culture to Historical Archeologies of the 19th Century,” dates the use of this phrase on their pottery to the late 1920’s.

The smaller jar is 2-inches in diameter and 2-1/2-inches tall. It contained maybe a half pound? The base of this jar is embossed W.P. Hartley, Liverpool & London, and includes a lighthouse surrounded by a flock of birds.

“The Importance of British Material Culture to Historical Archeologies of the 19th Century,” dates the use of this embossing between 1900 and 1920. (I’m ignoring the fact that the positioning of “Liverpool” and “London” are reversed) That being said, the London location didn’t open  until 1901, so, I suspect that’s a more likely start date.

Up through the late 1920’s Hartley exclusively packaged his preserves and marmalades in these stoneware pots. Peake’s biography of Hartley provided the reasoning for this in a 1901 statement he made at the time of his London factory opening.

Perhaps I ought to say that all the preserves and marmalade made at these works will be from fresh fruit and lump sugar and no other ingredient whatever. We do not use glass jars because our method is to fill the jam into the jars immediately after it is boiled, so that glass jars would not stand the heat without constant breakages and most serious risk of pieces of broken glass getting into the jam, therefore for twenty years we have practically used only the highly glazed stoneware jars.

In fact many of its stoneware pots were manufactured at pottery works the company owned. This practice continued until the early 1930’s when a shift to glass jars was taking place. A story announcing the sale of one of Hartley’s potteries provides some perspective on the shift to glass. It appeared in the April 5, 1930 edition of the “Liverpool Echo.”

The popular demand for glass jam jars rather than those of the pottery type is more or less responsible for a sale of property by Messrs. W.P. Hartley, Ltd., jam manufacturers, of Aintree.

The firm have sold the Melling Potteries at Kirby to Mr. William Moyers, who is managing director of the Bispham Hall Terra Cotta Co., Ltd., of Orrell, near Wigan…

…Formerly they made a great many of their stoneware jars and bottles there, but the popular demand now is for glass jars, which are made in other parts of the country.

Stoneware jars are still made for the firm at St. Helens and elsewhere…

By the early 1930’s the shift to glass jars was reflected in their advertising, as evidenced by this April 12, 1933 advertisement in the “Liverpool Echo.”

On a final note: According to a  June 11, 2001 edition of “The Guardian,” Hartley’s London factory at Bermondsey closed sometime in the early 1980’s and at the turn of the century was being repurposed.


It once employed 2,000 workers and churned out millions of pots of jam. But now, nearly 20 years after the last jar slipped off the production line, Hartley’s Jam Factory in Bermondsey is about to be reincarnated as a glamorous live/work development, aimed mainly at affluent young professionals and creative firms.

Two years later, an October 8, 2003 real estate advertisement in the “Evening Standard” listed a two bedroom apartment in a Hartley warehouse.


Brand & Co., Ltd., Mayfair, The “A 1” Sauce

Invention of “The A 1 Sauce” is credited to English  chef, grocer and author, Henderson William Brand. According to A 1 advertisements published by Brand in the British newspapers  during the early 1880’s, the story went like this:

This Celebrated Sauce was invented by Mr. H.W. Brand (Formerly of the Royal Household) in 1862, when he was cook and co-manger of the cuisine at the International Exhibition in Hyde Park. It was submitted by him among other sauces to the Royal Commissioners for approval for use at the restaurants in the Exhibition, and pronounced by the Chief Commissioner to be “A 1”- a designation which was immediately adopted, and by which it has been known ever since. This is an incontestable proof of its excellence and superiority.

BRAND’S…TRY a Bottle to see if you do not agree with THE CHIEF COMMISSIONER.

Another early advertisement for A 1, this one published in the October 5, 1872 edition of the “Pharmaceutical Journal and Transactions Advertiser” suggested its use with just about any type of food.

The A 1 OF 1862, LONDON AND 1867 PARIS

Most Wholesome and Excellent, is most exquisite and excels with plain Hot or Cold Meats, Chops, Steaks. Poultry, Fried or Boiled Fish, Bacon Eggs or Cheese. Patronized and in general use at the ROYAL HOUSEHOLD, the Principal Courts on the Continent, the London Clubs and large Hotels, and nearly all first-class Restaurants and Refreshment Rooms.

Today the brand is manufactured in the U.S. by Kraft-Heinz and their message is still pretty much the same.

A1 Sauce is great for pork, chicken, fish and vegetables.

While the A 1 brand itself dates to the early 1860’s, the story of Henderson William Brand gets its start back in the 1820’s when he served in the royal kitchen of England’s King George IV. According to “Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History:”

King George IV’s flagging health inspired royal chef Mr. H.W. Brand, to develop an essence of chicken beverage to boost his Majesty’s physical condition.

After leaving the royal kitchen, Brand served as the private chef for various celebrities and noblemen of his era. A feature on Brand & Co., published in the May, 1914 edition of the “Pharmaceutical Era” provided some details.

In due time the chef left the royal kitchens and became in turn chef for various celebrated gourmands and hosts, including T.W. Coke, of Holkham (the “Coke of Norfolk,” at whose table Charles James Fox was a frequent visitor), and afterward to Earl Manvers; then to His Grace the Duke of Norfolk; the Marquis of Ailsa; Lord Rolle, and others.

In 1834 Brand followed this up by publishing a collection of recipes entitled “The Complete Modern Cook,” a work that ‘Blackwoods Lady Magazine & Gazette” reviewed like this in 1841.

The design of Mr. Brand, in the production of the “Modern Cook,” is praisworthy, his object being evidently to furnish the practiced cook with modern novelties, and the inexperienced with every kind of information relative to cookery, written in so clear and concise a style, that to peruse somewhat 400 pages is rendered a pleasure, instead of hard study, as is with some works which have come under our notice…We recommend every noblemen’s and other family to possess a copy, feeling confident that the author, who for distinction sake we shall say was many years in the kitchen of his late Majesty George the Fourth, has done justice in the production.

In 1835, a year after publishing “The Modern Cook,” Brand established Brand & Co. and went into business for himself. The 1843 “Post Office London Directory” (the earliest I can find) described Brand & Co. as:

manufacturers & importers of preserves & preserved fresh & salt provisions & solid milk, beef tea, etc.”

The company listing included two addresses; 61 King William Street in the city, and 11 Little Stanhope Street in Mayfair but it was the Mayfair address that the business was almost exclusively associated with.

As early as the Spring of 1835 advertisements for H.W. Brand began appearing in the London newspapers. The earliest one I can find, published in the May 23, 1835 edition of London’s “Morning Post,” provides evidence that Brand was producing sauces from the very beginning. The advertisement also mentioned among other things his “chicken broth for invalids,” which could be what he served King George IV in his waning years.

Another advertisement, this one published on March 16, 1841 in the “Morning Post,” was addressed directly: “To INVALIDS and to all Persons of Delicate Constitution,” and mentioned specialties that included: “CONCENTRATED BEEF TEA, CHICKEN and MUTTON BROTH.”

A more extensive menu of  Brand’s specialties as well as imported items he offered can be found at the end of a second book he wrote in 1838 called “The Modern Process for the Preservation of all Alimentary Substances.”

Certainly a noted chef and author, Brand was apparently not as adept in business and in August, 1843 the “London Gazette” included him on a list of “BANKRUPTS.”

A story in the January 1, 1855 edition of London’s “Daily News” suggests that Brand’s business survived the bankruptcy and was still up and running on Stanhope Street at that time.

Mrs. Jane Brand was summoned by the police, under the authority of Lord Palmerston, and pursuant to provision of the new act for abating the smoke nuisance, for using a furnace not so constructed as to consume its own smoke.

The defendant is a preserved provision and meat compressor, No. 11 Little Stanhope-street, near Newport Market…

That same year Brand sold the business and over the next eighteen years it would change hands twice.  The weekly notes of an 1877 court case “heard and determined by the House of Lords” entitled “Dence vs Mason,” provided the basics.

The facts of this case were that the plaintiffs firm originated about forty five years ago, when it was conducted by Henderson William Brand, and was about the year 1855 acquired by Mr. Withall, who, on the 29th of September, 1873, sold  the same to Thomas Dence for the sum of 5,000 (pounds). The business has always been carried under the name of Brand & Co.

After selling the business Brand apparently served as a chef in several different capacities during the late 1850’s and 1860’s. It was during this time, while serving as cook and co-manger at the International Exhibition in Hyde Park that he developed his A 1 Sauce.

Later in the decade he would also  serve as  manager of the “Jersey Imperial Hotel,” as evidenced by an August 31, 1867 story in the “Gloucestershire Chronicle.”

THE JERSEY IMPERIAL HOTEL. – The Jersey Imperial Hotel, at the opening of which we gave an account some months ago, has just been seen to perfection in connection with a splendid ball and supper given by officers of the 66th Regiment. “Seen from the road,” we are told, “the hotel, being most tastefully illuminated with gas, had a fairy-like appearance, and hundreds of persons had gathered there to admire it. The hall and dining rooms, profusely decorated with flowers, and presenting a very elegant appearance, were very much admired by those who had received invitations.” The company numbered 270. The supper was perfect, and the arrangements were ably carried out by Mr. H.W. Brand, the manager.

Shortly after, likely sometime in the early 1870’s, Brand went into business for himself again, this time as H.W. Brand & Co. and, as early as 1872 was advertising Brand’s International Sauce, “The A 1 of 1862,” along with many of his  former products. Two, “Essence of Beef” and “Concentrated Beef Tea,” are specifically mentioned in this October 5, 1872 advertisement found in the “Pharmaceutical Journal and Transactions Advertiser.”

His newly established business was initially located at 4a, Villa Road, Brixton,S.W., where it remained until 1880 at which time the May 25th edition of London’s “The Standard” announced that he had moved the business to 21 Sackville Street, Piccadilly

One year later, an item published in the June 27, 1881 edition of “The London Times” announced that H.W.Brand had moved again, this time to 6 Vere Street, Oxford Street.

All the while, his former business, Brand & Co., now owned by Thomas Dence and managed by a man named John James Mason, continued to operate at 11 Little Stanhope Street and with the exception of A 1 Sauce was selling many of the same named products as H.W. Brand. This advertisement for Brand & Co. that appeared in the February 21, 1877 edition of the “The Medical Press and Circular Advertiser” specifically mentioned “Essence of Beef” and “Concentrated Beef Tea,” among others.

Competition between the two firms led to a High Court ruling restricting H.W. Brand from including the word “Company” in the name of his business. Consequently, Brand operated under the name “H.W. Brand,” while Dence continued under the original name of “Brand & Co.” The decision was highlighted in this H.W. Brand advertisement published in the June 18, 1880 edition of London’s “Daily News.”

The competition between H.W. Brand and Brand & Co. continued for the next several years; a competition that might be best illustrated by the presence of each in London’s 1884 “International Health Exhibition” where the Official Catalog listed them right next to each other in the index.

and their product information was strikingly similar.

By the early 1880’s, Brand & Co., in an obvious effort to compete with H.W. Brands A 1 Sauce, was advertising what they called “Brand & Co.’s “Own Sauce.”

The competition between the two firms came to an end sometime in the mid 1880’s, when it appears that Brand & Co. bought out H. W. Brand. While I can’t find specific documentation, this supposition is supported by the following: First, H.W. Brand newspaper advertisements disappear sometime in 1884. Secondly, by 1887 Brand & Co. newspaper advertisements had substituted “A 1 Sauce” for “Own Sauce” in their advertisements…

…and this March 9, 1889 advertisement found in “The Freemason,” calls out 11 Little Stanhope as the product’s “sole address.

Last but not least, born in 1805, Henderson William Brand was in his 80’s by this time. (He ultimately passed away in 1893.)

In 1887 Brand & Co. constructed a new factory in Vauxhall, London at 74-84 South Lambeth Road. According to an article featuring Brand & Co. published in the May, 1914 edition of the “Pharmaceutical Era:”

The business had grown to such proportions that the factory in Mayfair was not large enough to cope with the orders. It became necessary to find a suitable site for the erection of premises on a much vaster scale and the site on which the present establishment stands was selected. This is situated in historical surroundings in Vauxhall in close proximity to the river Thames and only a few minutes’ train ride from Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, and within a few minutes walk of Lambeth Palace, the residence of the Bishop of London.

A tour through the buildings is both instructive and interesting. One is especially struck by the spaciousness, loftiness and ariness of the various departments. The great “kitchen,” the vast hall in which, at the time of your representative’s visit, the “cooks” were at work carving the finest meat procurable and transferring it to huge steam-jacketed “coppers” in which the processes of extraction are carried on, is a model of cleanliness. It is shown in the illustration herewith.

The business incorporated in 1897 with Thomas Dence named as “permanent managing director.” The incorporation notice was published in the October 9, 1897 edition of “The Chemist and Druggist.”

Over half a century later an item in the November 3, 1949  edition of the South Wales “Western Mail” announced that the company had gone public.

For the first time in the company’s 114 years’ history the public will be able to acquire an interest in Brand & Co., makers of “Brand’s Essence’ and “A1 Sauce.” Arrangements are being made by British Trusts Association for the placing of the 150,000 5% Redeemable preference 1 (pound) shares, and a quotation is being sought.

Ten years later, Brand & Co. became a target for acquisition. An item in the July 4, 1959 edition of London’s “Daily Telegraph and Morning Post” told the story.

Cerebos, the salt company which also owns “Bits” and “Sifta” salt, has made a counter take-over offer worth about 4 million (pounds), for Brand & Co., the “A 1” sauce firm. Earlier this week a 3 million (pound) bid was made by an unnamed company.

Lt.-Col. J.E. Ridley, chairman of Brand, and his co-directors are recommending the Cerebos offer.

Later that month, on August 25th, Nottingham’s “Guardian Journal” reported that the Cerebos take-over had succeeded.

In Britain, Brand & Company was still advertising both Brand’s Essence of Beef and A1 Sauce right up to the time of acquisition. The following ads published in the early 1950’s were typical of the time period.

As a member of the Cerebos Group of Companies, the business continued to operate under the Brand & Co. name and while newspaper ads for their  their A 1 Sauce were becoming less frequent the product was still available in British grocery stores, as evidenced by this item that appeared in the financial pages of the “Evening Post” on December 28, 1967.

That being said, their Vauxhall factory was lost to a consolidation sometime in 1967; a fact mentioned by the Cerebo chairman in a statement made in advance of the company’s sixty third annual general meeting. The statement was published in the May 8, 1967 edition of “The Guardian.”

…We have made further progress in our program to consolidate production within the larger units of the Group….The transfer of production to our Greatham factory has been successfully completed and during the current year the Brand’s factory at Vauxhall will be closed and the production transferred to Greatham…

A year later, The July 3, 1968 edition of “The Guardian” announced that Cerebos had been acquired by Rank Hovis McDougall.

Rank Hovis McDiugall, the giant flour milling, baking, and food manufacturing group is merging with Cerebos, the salt (Cerebos and Saxa), Bisto and Scott’s Porage Oats combine. The deal will create a group worth 180 million (pounds).

Shortly after the merger there’s little, if any, mention of Brand’s A 1 Sauce or Brand’s Essence in British newspapers.

Today, Brand’s Essence of Chicken is manufactured by “Suntory Beverage and Food.” According the their web site the product is only available in Asia but apparently its also available on Amazon.

How close it comes to the beverage Henderson William Brand served King George IV almost 200 years ago is anybody’s guess!

In the United States, the introduction of A 1 Sauce  dates back to the 1890’s and is generally credited to the Hartford Connecticut firm of G.F. Heubling & Brother. According to a 75th anniversary  feature on the company published in the April 30, 1950 edition of the “Hartford Courant,” the company got its start in 1862 when Andrew Heublein established a small hotel that served both fine food and liquors. The feature went on to say:

In 1875, Andrew stepped aside and let his two sons, Gilbert and Louis. take control of the organization. The two brothers began importing choice viands, vintage wines and liquors from France, Spain and Italy, and it wasn’t too long before “The House of Heublein” had established a name for fine products.

Later, 1n 1892 the company added another line of business bottling pre-made cocktails they called “Club Cocktails.”

As early as the Spring of 1895 an advertisement for their “Club Cocktails” also included a reference to Brand & Co.’s A1 Sauce, naming G. F. Heublein & Bro. as “sole agents for the United States.” The advertisement, offering a sample bottle of A 1 Sauce for 15 cents, appeared in both an April, 1895 issue of “Life” and May, 1895 issue of “Puck”magazines.

Over the next 20 years or so “A 1” advertisements in the U.S. named Hueblein as the “sole importer” of the sauce.  Advertisements from 1905 published in the “Bulletin of the Hartford Public Library” and 1912 in the “American Federalist” bear this out.

Sometime in the late teens Heublein began manufacturing Brand’s A 1 Sauce in the United States. According to the 75th anniversary feature on Heublein in the “Hartford Courant,” it was World War I that served as the catalyst for this change.

At the start of World War I, shipments of A1 Sauce from England became increasingly sporadic. Heublein made a satisfactory agreement with the Brand organization and began manufacture of the condiment in Hartford.

Several rears later, that agreement turned out to be a blessing for Heublein.

When the National Prohibition Act was passed in 1919, Heublein’s liquor plant closed down. Fortunately the A 1 business continued good and key personnel were transferred there.

By the early 1930’s, not only was it being manufactured in the U.S. but it was being advertised and sold there on a national scale, a fact that was emphasized to grocers in this October, 1931 advertisement published in the “National Grocers Bulletin.”

It’s surprising how easily grocers can add this extra sale of flavor… this flavor that goes with nearly every food they sell. Millions of housewives know A.1. Sauce…National advertising is reminding them of it every month. There are lots of easy profits in suggesting A.1. Sauce. Try this…and see! G.F. Heublein & Brother, Hartford, Conn.

Sometime in the 1960’s A 1 advertisements began to focus almost exclusively on beef and as such it was rebranded “A 1 Steak Sauce.”

By the 1980’s, Heublein had grown from a small 1860’s hotel that served wine and liquors into a $2 billion a year corporation that in addition to A 1 included brands like Smirnoff Vodka and Kentucky Fried Chicken. An early 1980’s breakdown of their products and sales was published  in the June 2, 1982 edition of the “Miami Herald.”

It was around this time that Heublein was acquired by R.J Reynolds Industries. The acquisition was reported in the July 30, 1982 edition of the “Hartford Courant.”.

Saying it was unlikely the company could have remained independent much longer, Hicks B. Waldron, chairman of Heublein Inc., announced Thursday that the longtime Connecticut food and beverage company will be merged into R.J. Reynolds Industries Inc., the giant tobacco, shipping and canning conglomerate.

The merger would create a $14 billion concern that will rank 26th at the Fortune 500 list ahead of Chrysler Corp. and closing in on Proctor & Gamble Co. It will rival Hartford’s United Technologies Corp. in size.

The companies made the announcement separately Thursday afternoon, confirming rumors of a merger between the two that had existed for about six months and which grew to a feverish pitch early this week. The transaction is valued at about $1.3 billion.

R.J. Reynolds is a $12 billion company, about six times Heublein’s size.

A 1 is now manufactured in the U.S. by Kraft-Heinz who in 2014 revived the original “A 1 Sauce” name. According to a May 15, 2014 Kraft-Heinz press release:

In the 1960’s, the brand shifted focus to beef and the product was renamed A1 Steak Sauce. Now, with the original product formula remained unchanged, the brand is removing “Steak” from its name and launching a new creative campaign that shows A 1 Sauce is great for pork, chicken, fish and vegetables.

Today, both the “original” and “Steak Sauce” names are utilized by the company as evidenced by this recent Amazon ad.

The bottle I found is 7-1/2 inches tall and roughly 1-1/2 inches square. Machine made, it’s embossed “Brand & Co., Ltd., Mayfair” on the base.

That being said the Illinois Glass Company’s makers mark of an “I” inside a diamond is also faintly visible on the base, indicating that the bottle was American made. The Illinois Glass Company used this mark between 1915 and 1929, indicating that the bottle was more than likely ordered by Heublein & Co.,  after they began manufacturing “The A 1 Sauce,” say late teens through 1929.

Huile D Olive, Superfine, Bertrand Freres, Grasse

The French phrase, “Huile D Olive,” translates to “Olive Oil,” so it’s apparent that the subject bottle contained olive oil produced in Grasse, France by the firm of Bertrand Freres (Bertrand Brothers).

Founded in 1858 by two brothers, Baptistin and Emelien Bertrand, this 19th century engraving of their factory found in the Municipal Archives of Grasse, described the business as:

Fabricants D’ Essences Fines & De Matieres Premieres Pour Parfumerie

or, courtesy of “Google Translate:”

Manufacturers Of Fine Essences & Raw Materials for Perfumery

The business would operate in Grasse under the Bertrand Freres name for well over 100 years.

Located in Southern France, an August 24, 1926 story found in a publication called “Drug Markets,” referred to Grasse as “the heart of the world’s perfume industry.” The story opened with this description of the town which serves to provide some context to the company’s history.

Located about 20 kilometers from Cannes, with an altitude of 692 feet, the town of Grasse is situated in the heart of the flower-growing district of France, and hence might very well be considered the center of France’s perfume industry. And to the extent that other countries depend on France for their oils, pomades and concentrates for their raw materials in manufacturing perfumes, this town of 19,700 inhabitants may be called the heart of the world’s perfume industry…

In this town are located such well-known French houses as Etablissement Antoine Chris, Charabot & Co., Lautier Fils, Pilar Freres, Roure-Bertrand Fils, Bertrand Freres, and others.

Plants are located in Grasse, and these houses either buy their flowers from the peasants, or grow them themselves, and here manufacture their oils, concentrates or pomades as the case may be.

An advertisement that appeared in the May 1, 1865 edition of a British publication called the “Pharmaceutical Journal & Transactions,” provided this menu of products the company manufactured during its first decade.

While the above menu fails to mention olive oil, Bertrand Freres was certainly producing it from the very beginning as evidenced by what has to be one of the company’s earliest directory listings found in the 1859 Industry Trade Directory-Almanac under the heading “District of Grasse.”


Translated, the listing reads as follows:

Bertrand Brothers, new improvements for the rectification of essences of mint, anise, etc., distilled waters of bitter orange blossoms, lemons from Portugal; olive oils and all the products of the South.

Sometime in the early 1870’s the Bertrand brothers turned control of the business over to a partnership headed by Hubert Schlienger. He, and later his son Emile Schlienger, would serve as senior partners in the firm up through at least 1940.

It appears that it was also in the 1870’s that the business began to focus their attention on the U. S. market as evidenced  by this news item that appeared in the March 21. 1878 edition of the “Detroit Free Press.”.

Henry Fielding, representative of the essential oil house of Bertrand Freres, Grasse, France, was in the city yesterday. He received several large orders from some of the wholesale drug and perfumery establishments of the city.

It was also in the 1870’s that the company’s products began appearing in United States newspaper advertisements. An advertisement touting their “concentrated essences” appeared in the March 9, 1876 edition of the “Yorkville (York, S. C.) Enquirer.”

Another, this one headlining their olive oil, appeared in the March 25, 1878 edition of Connecticut’s Hartford Courant.

In 1898 and 1899, Fraser, Viger & Co., a self described “grocer and wine merchant” located in French speaking Montreal, Canada, advertised their olive oil using the French wording embossed on the subject bottle:”HUILE d OLIVE.”

A feature on the business published in the May 11, 1911 edition of the “American Perfumer,” depicted their turn of the century Grasse factory, and made it clear that by then their distribution was “world-wide,” specifically referring to the United States and Canada as two of their “chief markets.”

The house of Bertrand Freres, which has won such an enviable reputation in the perfumery trade, was founded in 1858 by two brothers named Baptistin and Emilien Bertrand, who laid the foundation upon which a world-wide trade of extensive proportions has since been built. The chief markets catered to however are Paris, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States…

The house has long had agents practically all over the world, and more recently has invaded South America, where headquarters for the continent have been established in Santiago de Chile…

The spacialties manufactured by the firm are extracts, solid and liquid concretes, floral ottos for confectioners and most of the high grade essential oils.

The company’s U. S. agent at the turn of the century was Clayton Rockhill who, according to his biography published in the 1918 edition of “The Cyclopedia of American Biography, Volume VIII, founded his business in 1884. In 1895, the New York City Copartnership and Corporation Directory identified Rockhill as the “agent for Bertrand Freres, Grasse, France.” The 1890 Copartnership and Corporation Directory simply referred to him as a merchant so it’s likely that their relationship began sometime in the early 1890’s.

This early advertisement associating Rockhill with Bertrand Freres appeared in the April 1, 1897 edition of the “American Soap Journal & Perfume Gazette.

Originally located at 30 Platt Street, Rockhill’s business moved to 114 John Street around 1900. Then in 1906 he formed a  partnership with Carl Louis Vietor. Their partnership notice appeared in the March 1, 1906 edition of the “Soap Gazette and Perfumer.”

A copartnership has been formed between Clayton Rockhill and Carl L. Vietor, both of this city, under the firm name of Rockhill & Vietor, to carry on the general shipping and commission business which has been carried on by Mr. Rockhill. Mr. Vietor, who is the son of George F. Vietor, a well-known dry goods merchant of this city, has been with Mr. Rockhill for two years.

An advertisement in the same March 1 edition of the “Soap Gazette and Perfumer” made it clear that their business relationship with Bertrand Feres remained unchanged.

Sometime in 1912 Rockhill & Vietor moved to 22 Cliff Street where the company was listed up through 1921. During this time, Bertrand Freres apparently managed a separate olive oil branch managed by importer Chandros Weddle at his office at 100 Hudson Street. This entry in the 1915 Copartnership and Corporation Directory associated Rockhill and Vietor with the perfume business and Weddle with olive oil, and was typically how Bertrand Freres was listed beginning in 1912.

In 1922 Rockhill & Vietor announced a move to new quarters in the February edition of the “American Perfumer.”

Rockhill and Vietor, established in John Street (actually 30 Platt)  in 1884 by the late Clayton Rockhill and now at 22 Cliff Street, will move to new quarters in the near future, combining the oil department with its other branches at 62 Grand Street.

Two months later, Rockhill & Vietor was dissolved (Rockhill had passed away in 1918), and replaced by a new firm, P. R. Dreyer, located not on Grand Street but Beekman Street.

Confused? Hopefully this May 1, 1922 story in the “Soap Gazette and Perfumer” will serve to clarify.

Due to the liquidation of the firm of Rockhill & Vietor, New York, P. R. Dreyer, who has been manager of the essential oil department of the company for several years, has been appointed American and Canadian agent for Bertrand Freres, Grasse, France, and American agent for N. V. Chemische Fabric Naarden, Bussum, Holland, which firms Rockhill and Vietor represented heretofore.

Mr. Dreyer has been associated with the essential oil industry for more than twenty years and enjoys an extensive acquaintance among the members of the soap, perfume and allied trades, particularly in the East and Middle-West.

The new headquarters of Mr. Dreyer are located at 109-111 Beekman Street, New York City.

Up through 1925 and possibly longer, NYC directories continued to associate Chandros Weddle with Bertrand Freres at his 100 Hudson Street location so it appears that the olive oil business remained separate and distinct.

Meanwhile, back in Grasse at around the same time, the company was in the process of expanding their physical plant. According to the French “Ministre De La Culture” web site:

Like other perfumery companies the company Bertrand Freres had an annex site built in the early 1920’s dedicated to extraction by volatile solvents. There are two main reasons for the construction of this new site: to move the extraction workshops away from the inhabited areas and to avoid overloading the site of the parent plant with its already very dense buildings by adding new constructions. The annex establishment is built on a rose plantation that the company owned.

The new facility, constructed adjacent to their existing facility, was described in a December, 1922 feature published the American Perfumer.

Bertrand Frteres are now occupying their enlarged factory at Grasse, France, which was completed last Spring, thus adding with a modern concrete fire-proof structure, another fitting milestone in the history of this well known concern…

The new factory has three stories appropriately arranged to carry on manufacturing processes with the least waste of effort. Perhaps the most striking things to catch the eye of the visitor are the tiled walls, the abundance of natural light and the scrupulous cleanliness maintained throughout the factory. The most modern machinery and equipment have been installed, it is stated, and safety devices are freely employed. Above the third floor there is an oriental pavilion for entertaining guests. The boiler house occupies a unit by itself quite distinct from the factory proper and the fluted smoke stack rises far above the highest point in the factory where any manufacturing processes are conducted, preventing any possible damage by smoke.

The feature included several views of the newly enlarged factory.

Shown clockwise from the top left are: rectifying stills; general view of the plant; a group of stills; volatile solvent extracting apparatus; entrance to the offices and vacuum stills.

P.R Dreyer advertisements in several 1922 editions of the “American Perfumer” featured the enlarged facility.


Four years later, in 1926, the August 24th edition of “Drug Markets” announced that Bertrand Freres had established an American corporation with Dreyer serving as president.

Bertrand Freres, well known Grasse, France, essential oil house has formed an American branch with headquarters in New York. P. R. Dreyer, of P. R. Dreyer, New York, who has been representing the French company in this country is president of the new company. E. Schlienger, senior partner of the French house is vice president, A. Mueller, a member of the parent concern is secretary-treasurer, and O. C. Ispell is assistant secretary-treasurer. By this division of officers, the American company is able to function in this country with a certain degree of independence while actual control of the company is maintained by the parent concern in Grasse. A more active participation in the American essential oil market is anticipated by this step, and the French company looks for an increased and larger business following this active and aggressive step.


Whether Weddle continued his association with Bertrand Freres and their olive oil after the U. S. incorporation is unclear, however, he continued to be listed at 100 Hudson Street with the occupation of “food products” until he ultimately passed away in 1933. . That being said, I suspect, but can’t confirm, that by the end of the 1926 to 1933 time frame, the company was focused solely on perfumes and essential oils and the distribution of olive oil was all but forgotten in the United States.

Shortly after the incorporation, the November edition of “Drug Markets reported that a fire had forced P. R. Dreyer to move to a new location.

P. R. Dreyer, New York, whose place of business was damaged by fire recently, has leased a 3 – story building at 26 Cliff Street.

Sometime in the late 1930’s they apparently relocated to 12 East 12th Street before moving to 119 W 19th Street, where both Bertrand Freres and P. R. Dreyer were listed together throughout most of  the early 1940’s. By the late 1940’s’s the companies were listed with separate addresses with Bertrand Freres located at 111 Broadway in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, and 443 Fourth Avenue in the late 1950’s up through at least 1960.

In 1973 the Bertrand Freres business moved across the Hudson River to Maywood, New Jersey to serve as the U. S. distributor for a Unilever company called Proprietary Perfumes Ltd.. The September 2, 1973 edition of “The (Hackensack, New Jersey) Record” told the story.

New Jersey alone has more than 50 perfume compounding companies. The state has become a center for the industry.

One of the latest entrants into the already crowded New Jersey field is Bertrand Freres Ltd., which moved from New York City to 17 Brook Ave. in Maywood earlier this year.

The firm is the American subsidiary of Bertrand Freres S. A. of Grasse, France – Grasse, north of Cannes, is in an area that has been the perfume center of the world for several centuries.

Bertrand Freres Ltd. moved to New Jersey after getting what its managers referred to as a new lease on life. That lease came in the form of U. S. distribution rights for Proprietary Perfumes Ltd (PPL) of Kent, England. PPL is the perfuming subsidiary of the giant multinational conglomerate Unilever, which is also the parent of Lever brothers, the soap and cosmetic company. 

Subsequently Bertrand Freres merged with PPL and another Unilever subsidiary forming “PPF International.” The merger was reported in the February 2, 1982 edition of several U. S. newspapers.

A merger of two British companies and a French firm to form one of the world’s largest fragrance and flavor producers, with annual sales of $200 million was announced yesterday.

Gerald Landers, appointed director of fragrance operations of the company, to be called PPF, said “the U.S. market will be our key growth market,” although the new company’s headquarters will be in Ashford, Kent, England. Landers is marketing director of Ashford’s Proprietary Perfumes Ltd., one of the three merging companies and the fifth largest supplier of fragrance compounds in the world. The other two firms are Food Industries Ltd. of Bromborough, England, and Bertrand Freres of Grasse, France.

As far as I can tell this marked the end of the Bertrand Freres company name.

Later, in 1986, Unilever set it sights on another firm, Naarden International with the intent of merging it with PPF. According to an August 19, 1986 story in London’s “Daily Telegraph:”

Unilever, the Anglo Dutch consumer products group, aims to boost the international status of its specialty chemicals division with a 110 million pound bid for Naarden International, the major Dutch producer of industrial fragrances.

Unilever hopes to combine Naarden with PPF International, its own fragrance group formed in 1982…

The merger was finalized several months later and the following year Unilever combined Naarden and PPF under the name of “Quest International.” According to the the French “Ministre De La Culture,” web site, Quest continued to occupy the Grasse factory site until 1998.

The bottle I found is 10 ounces in size and was blown in a “turn mold.” It sports a blob seal on which the product and company information is presented.

This likely dates it sometime around the turn of the century. Strangely, newspaper advertisements for their olive oil make no mention of a 10 ounce size. In fact, there’s no mention of sizes smaller than a pint. The following is from 1897/1898,

and this one’s from the early 1910’s.

Burnett, Boston (Burnett’s Extracts, Joseph Burnett & Co.)

The name “Burnett” embossed on the subject bottles is short for Joseph Burnett, a Boston druggist, who established an apothecary and later manufacturing business in Boston during the mid 1800’s. He’s generally credited with manufacturing and marketing the first commercially available flavoring extracts in the United States.

His chief product, Burnett’s Vanilla Extract, was still being offered for sale under his name in the late 1970’s.

A story in the November 1, 1881 edition of  The Fitchburg (Mass.) Sentinel relayed this commonly held version of the product’s origin.

The extensive business of this house, which has extended to nearly every civilized country in the world, had its origin in what might be called an incident, or an accident some thirty years ago. At that time Mr. Joseph Burnett, the founder of the house was doing a large apothecary business on Tremont Street, opposite the Boston Museum.

A lady who had lived in France and had become accustomed to French methods of cookery, came into Mr. Burnett’s store one day and asked him if he could not make a decent Flavoring Extract for her, as she found those in common use abominable. She wanted an extract of vanilla. This was made which pleased the lady very much, and from this simple beginning has grown a business…

Likely some combination of both fact and legend, the above serves as a good background for Burnett’s story, a story that starts not with him, but another New England druggist named Theodore Metcalf, who gave Burnett his start in business.

Born in Dedham, Massachusetts on January 21, 1812, Metcalf began his career in the Hartford Connecticut apothecary of E. W. Bull where he initially served as an apprentice and later as Bull’s partner. That partnership was dissolved in January, 1836 with the dissolution notice appearing in the January 23, 1836 edition of the “Hartford Courant.”

According to Metcalf’s obituary, published in the “American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record,” he subsequently moved to Boston and in the Spring of 1837 established an apothecary business at 33 Tremont Row (later called Tremont Street). Not long after he opened the doors Metcalf hired Burnett as a clerk, jump-starting what would ultimately be a long and successful career. A feature on Burnett, published in the October, 1894 edition of a publication called “The Spatula” provided some early details.

Mr. Burnett who was born in Southboro, Mass., in 1819, received as good an education as the schools of those days afforded, and began his career as a pharmacist in 1837 as a clerk in the store of Mr. Metcalf. It was not long before the latter saw the advisability of taking him into partnership which continued until Mr. Burnett became entire owner of the establishment

A notice announcing the transfer of ownership from Metcalf to Burnett, dated January 1, 1845, was published in several January editions of the “Boston Medical and Surgical Journal.”


The subscriber has disposed of his stock and place of business to Mr. Joseph Burnett, his principal assistant for the past six years.

To his regular customers no commendation of his successor is necessary, as his competency and accurateness are well known to them, and he respectfully solicits a continuance of their favors to the establishment.

To the medical profession he takes pleasure in saying that the duty of conducting the business could not fall into hands more capable.


JOSEPH BURNETT respectfully informs the medical profession, that he will endeavor, by close attention to business, to sustain the reputation of the old establishment, and to deserve their confidence and favor.

Over the course of the next ten years the business was listed in the Boston directories as simply “Joseph Burnett.” As far as I can tell Burnett operated the business as a sole proprietorship until 1853, at which time he admitted two partners, William W. Goodwin, and Peter J.Hassard. The partnership announcement, dated January 1, 1853, appeared in several January and February editions of Boston’s “Daily Evening Transcript.”

During this ten year period the business primarily served as an importer/wholesaler/retailer for a wide variety of items as evidenced by their advertisement that appeared within Boston’s 1851 Commercial Directory.

Several of the company’s late 1840’s to early 1850’s newspaper advertisements provide a sampling of the products they carried at the time.

The company also marketed a variety of items directly to the medical profession. According to the following 1853 advertisement that appeared in the “Boston Medical and Surgical Journal” this included:

genuine drugs, pure chemicals, select powders, superior extracts (both solid and fluid), and other desirable pharmaceutical preparations

In fact, a story written years later in the October 13, 1946 edition of the “Boston Globe” credits Burnett with supplying the “pure sulphuric ether” used by W. T. G. Morton when he performed the first successful operation under anesthesia in 1846.

If that wasn’t enough, you could stop by his apothecary and have a flavored soda if you were so inclined.

Finally, their 1851 directory advertisement also mentioned “extracts for flavoring pies, jellies, etc.,”  so they were certainly manufacturing them, though likely on a small scale, during the early 1850’s (some accounts say as early as 1847). That would all change on January 1, 1855 when, in an effort to focus on the manufacturing side of the business, Burnett sold the apothecary back to Theodore Metcalf. A notice announcing the sale appeared in the January 10, 1855 edition of the “Boston Evening Transcript.”

Directly adjacent to the dissolution notice was an advertisement for Metcalf’s reacquired apothecary.

Soon after, Burnett partnered with William Otis Edmunds and established the firm of Joseph Burnett & Co. Within a year the company was manufacturing ten different varieties of flavoring extracts as evidenced by this December 20, 1855 advertisement in the “Boston Evening Transcript.”

FLAVORING EXTRACTS. Messrs. Joseph Burnett & Co., Tremont Street, manufacture very superior Flavoring Extracts of perfect purity, and great strength. The articles are guaranteed to be free from the poisonous oils and acids which enter so largely into the composition of many of the fruit flavors now so freely offered in the market. The varieties are Lemon, Orange, Nectarine, Peach, Celery, Vanilla, Bitter Almond, Rose, Nutmeg and Cinnamon. For family use in blanc mange, custards, pies, etc., or for confectioners and hotel keepers to use in ice creams, jellies, etc. They are not only true to their names but are prepared from fruits of the best quality, and are so highly concentrated  that only a small quantity is required. They have all the freshness and delicate flavor of the choice fruits from which they are prepared.

A list published in a July, 2, 1859 “Boston Evening Transcript” advertisement, indicated that by then the menu had been upped to 12 by adding ginger and cloves.

More than just flavoring extracts, by the late 1850’s the company was also manufacturing several medicines and toiletries, all of which were advertised together as “Burnett’s Standard Preparations.”

In case you’re interested here’s an alphabetized list of uses that “Burnett’s Standard Preparations” were touted to address. The list appeared in the 1866 edition of their annual marketing publication called “Burnett’s Floral Handbook and Ladies Calendar.” .

Joseph Burnett & Co. was initially listed in 1856 and 1857 at 41 Tremont where they were literally next door to (or cohabitated with?)  Metcalf’s apothecary. In fact, this early Burnett advertisement for “Kalliston,” that appeared in the April 14, 1856 edition of the “Boston Evening Transcript” named Metcalf as one of Burnett’s first retailers.

That being said, Burnett apparently outgrew his Tremont facilities rather quickly and by 1857 moved the company to 27 Central Street where, by 1881, a November 1st feature on the business in the “Fitchburg Sentinel” described a company whose production of vanilla extract alone consumed one fourth of the entire Mexican product. The feature went on to say:

Some fifty persons are now directly employed by the concern in the varied work of bottling, labeling, packing and boxing their various Flavoring Extracts and Toilet Preparations, all of which are of altogether superior nature.

By this time, Burnett’s sons Harry, and John M. were actively involved in the business and in fact as early as 1882 the Boston directories name them, not Joseph, as the company principals. This suggests that while it was likely that Joseph continued to oversee the business, by then it was his sons who were running its day to day operations.

Ultimately full authority passed to the brothers in 1894 when Joseph Burnett died in a tragic accident. The August 13, 1894 edition of the “Boston Evening Transcript” told the story.

Dr. Joseph Burnett of Southboro, well-known in Boston, was fatally injured at Marlboro yesterday afternoon. He was driving on Maple Street and when near the electric car station his horse became frightened by an electric car and Dr. Burnett was thrown out, striking upon his head. He was taken to his country home at Southboro in an unconscious condition and died at seven o’clock last evening.

That same year the business moved again, this time to 36 India Street, where, now incorporated, it was listed in the 1895 Boston directories with a new name; the Joseph Burnett Company. The directories named John M., president and Harry, treasurer, that first year.

It was also in the early 1890’s that the company began advertising a line of food coloring’s called “Burnett’s Color Pastes.”

For coloring Ice Creams, Frostings, Jellies, Custards and all kinds of confectionery.

This 1898 advertisement that appeared in the “Boston Cooking School Magazine” advertised their Extracts and Color Pastes side by side. The advertisement provided this menu of their colored pastes: Leaf Green, Fruit Red, Golden Yellow, Damask Rose, Carmel, Chestnut, Imperial Blue and Mandarin Orange.

By the turn of the century the business was emphasizing their extracts and color pastes at the expense of their medicines and toilet preparations, some of which were likely being scrutinized as a result of the food and drug laws being enacted around that time. One clue supporting this shift in focus is evident in the font size used in the company’s advertisement that appeared in Boston’s 1905 Commercial Directory. By this time the medicinal and toilet items appear in the advertisement as no more than afterthoughts.

Nine years later only their extracts are mentioned in the 1914 directory advertisement.

Although their line of extracts included many flavors, by the early 1920’s according to a feature on the Burnett business in the November 3, 1921 edition of an advertising trade magazine called “Printers Ink”

The company is chiefly known to advertisers as makers of Vanilla Extract. Vanilla has been the advertised leader for many years.

The “Printers Ink” feature went on to say:

The line includes, however, many other flavors as well as spices and color pastes. Burnett’s spices are a comparatively recent addition to the line and they are being featured in the advertising this fall.

As promised their fall advertising campaign included their new line of spices as evidenced by an advertisement that appeared in the December, 1921 edition of “The Ladies Home Journal.”

It was also in 1921 that the company moved again, this time to a new factory at 437 D Street in South Boston.

Later, in the  mid 1930’s they added several products having to do with ice cream, “Burnetts Liquid Ice Cream” and “Burnett’s Ice Cream Mix.” The Ice Cream Mix was advertised in the “North Adams (Mass.) Transcript” on May 23, 1935.

Up through the mid-1940’s, the Burnett family continued to remain heavily involved in the management of the company. John T. Burnett succeeded his brother John M. Burnett as president in 1906, serving in that capacity until his death in 1929. He was succeeded as president by Henry P. Kidder, with a third generation of the Burnett family, George H. Burnett, serving as treasurer. This arrangement continued until 1946 when the company was sold to American Home products. The sale was reported in the May 2, 1946 edition of the Boston Globe.

Am. Home Products Acquires Burnett Co.

H. W. Roden, vice president of American Home Products Corporation, announced today acquisition of the Joseph Burnett Company of Boston, for 8,918 capital shares of American Home Products, parent of American Home Foods, Inc.

The newly acquired company was the outgrowth of a Boston drug store, founded by Joseph Burnett, who, in 1847, produced vanilla flavoring as an experiment.

Less than a year after the acquisition a fire caused significant damage to the company’s D Street factory. The fire was reported in the April 2, 1947 edition of the “Boston Globe.”

Seventy-five persons, many of them women were driven out of the building at 437 D St., South Boston, today when fire caused damage of more than $50,000 to the building and extract stores of the Joseph Burnett Company.

The fire started when a spark from an electric motor ignited alcohol fumes, fire officials said. It started on the fourth floor of the seven story brick building and spread along pipes down to the third floor.

It appears that the fire put an end to Burnett’s manufacturing operations in Boston. The following year, in 1948, the Joseph Burnett Co., was listed in the Boston directories as a division of American Foods with simply an office address at 43 Leon, Rm 310, in Roxbury. That same year their D Street factory was no longer listed.

On a side note, the structure apparently survived and today is called the Seaport Lofts. Here’s a recent photograph courtesy of Google Earth.

Where American Home Products moved Burnett’s manufacturing arm is not clear, but in the 1950’s they did put out several new products under the Burnett name. One advertised in the early 1950’s was Burnett’s Instant Puddings.


As far as I can tell, the Burnett brands were later acquired by the Doxsee Food Corporation. One last mention of the brand that I can find appeared in a July 29, 1987 “Boston Globe” feature entitled “Ask the Globe,” where one question/answer item made it clear that by then Burnett’s Vanilla Extract, and likely the entire Burnett brand, had been discontinued.

Q. My wife prefers to use Burnett’s Pure Vanilla Extract in her cooking but has been unable to find it in local stores. Can it be purchased anywhere? – C.C., Milton.

A. Ed Lindsay of the customer service department at Doxsee Food Corp. in Baltimore says his firm no longer produces Burnett’s, but instead makes an imitation vanilla extract.

The last newspaper advertisement for “Burnett’s Vanilla Extract” that I can find appeared in March, 1979, suggesting that the late 1970’s/early 1980’s is the product’s likely end date. The advertisement, for a grocery store called Warehouse Foods, listed it along with several other products under the heading “Baking Time.” The ad appeared in the March 19th edition of a Wisconsin newspaper called the “Oshkosh Northwestern.”

I’ve found two Burnett bottles. One is two ounces in size, the other four ounces. Each is mouth blown with a tooled finish, likely putting their manufacture date somewhere in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s.

In the 1870 Floral Handbook and Ladies Calendar the company advertised that their flavored extracts were available in five sizes, one of which is two ounces.

Coupled with the fact that the smaller bottle matches almost exactly the vanilla extract bottle exhibited in this 1902 advertisement found in a publication called the “American Kitchen Magazine” leads me to believe it contained some variety of flavoring extract.


The four ounce bottle does not fit one of the advertised sizes so, assuming they didn’t add a four ounce size in the late 1800’s, it likely contained one of Burnett’s other “Standard Preparations.” The bottle closely resembles the size and shape of the bottle in this 1879 Kalliston advertisement found in their Floral Journal and Ladies Calendar so I’m leaning in that direction.


It certainly did not contain their Cocoaine or Cologne Water as both were sold in uniquely shaped bottles.


James Keiller & Sons, Dundee Marmalade

The Dundee Marmalade story begins in the late 1700’s with a small grocery business in Scotland that by the mid-1860’s had grown into a world-wide enterprise. According to a feature on James Keiller & Sons included in “The Industries of Scotland, Their Rise Progress and Present Condition,” by David Bremner, published in 1869:

The most extensive confectionery establishment in Britain is that of Messrs James Keiller & Son, Dundee. The firm have a specialty in marmalade – a conserve which they have been chiefly instrumental in bringing into general use. The history of the firm is brief, but it records a brilliant success. About the beginning of the present century, Dundee, which stands in the neighborhood of a famous fruit producing district, was pretty extensively engaged in the manufacture of “preserves,” and the late James Keiller was among those engaged in the trade. By way of increasing the variety of his productions, Mr. Keiller began to make marmalade, and was the first in the country to produce it as an article of commerce.

Called “chip marmalade,” it was the first commercially available marmalade to contain the rind of the fruit.  Developed by James Keiller’s mother, Janet, most versions of the brand’s origin run along the same lines as the one found in “Dundee at Work, Popular Industries Through the Years,” by Gregor Stewart, published in 2017.

Born in 1737, Janet Keiller ran a successful small shop in Dundee along with her husband John, selling cakes, sweets and fresh fruit. There are varying stories regarding how their brand of marmalade came about, the most common being that a Spanish ship had sailed into Tay estuary seeking shelter from stormy weather. Within the cargo was a batch of Seville oranges, which were already starting to go off due to the long journey. Knowing that the long delay would almost certainly result in the oranges being worthless, the ship’s captain offered them for sale, and they were bought by John Keiller. Knowing the fruit was already bitter, the captain no doubt was happy to have offloaded the effectively worthless consignment, but John knew a bargain when he saw one. He gave the oranges to Janet to see what she could do with them and she set about trying different recipes to make an orange preserve. What was different about her blend, and set it apart from other marmalades of the time, was that she included orange peel in her mix.

I’ll leave open to speculation as to whether this story is a legend based loosely on fact; created years later by an advertising agency or a little of both. What we do know is that in 1797 their son James established a business named James Keiller that served the l0cal community out of a small house near High Street in Dundee. Then, at some point, likely in the late 1820’s, they began expanding their reach to London, England.  According to Bremner’s “Industries of Scotland” feature:

For some years the demand was limited to the town and district; but in the course of time the new conserve worked its way into the more important towns of Scotland , and subsequently crossed the border into England. Between thirty and forty years ago, one of the principal grocery firms in London gave marmalade a trial, and soon secured a steadily increasing demand for it. A new market was thus opened up; and from being a subordinate part of Mr.Keiller’s business, the manufacture of marmalade took precedence.

Early evidence of this geographic expansion is a March 15, 1829 newspaper advertisement for Stokes Tea Warehouse in the (London) Observer.

Whether Stoke’s was the grocer referenced in the above quote is unclear, but the time frame fits, and by the 1830’s, other London grocers including Fraser and Wood at 63 New Bond Street and J Garnett & Co’s Italian Warehouse at 38 Wigmore Street were mentioning Dundee Marmalade in their advertising as well. That being said, throughout the 1830’s and early 1840’s growth was apparently slow and the Keiller business continued to operate out of their original High Street location where I found them listed in the 1837 edition of Pigot and Co.s Commercial Directory of Scotland. Now called James Keiller & Son, they were one of 13 confectioners operating in Dundee at the time.

It wasn’t until 1845  that the company, now under the management of James’ son Alexander, in an effort to address increased demand acquired additional space at nearby 2 Castle Street. Located below the Royal British Hotel the space allowed for, among other things, additional back space as well as a large street level shop. This undated photograph likely taken around the turn of the century, clearly shows the Keiller shop located below the hotel.

Over the next 25 years James Keiller & Son continued to expand such that in 1869, Bremner’s “Industries of Scotland” feature described their facilities like this:

The establishment, which occupies several blocks of three story buildings, is the largest of the kind in the country.

By then the business employed about 300 people producing marmalade, jams, jellies and general confectionery that included lozenges, candies and gum goods. That being said, Bremner made it clear that by then the production of marmalade had achieved prime importance.

Oranges are usually in season from the beginning of December till the end of March, and the years’s supply of marmalade must be made in that time. The oranges used are the bitter variety obtained from Seville in Spain. They are imported in chests containing 2 cwt. each. Messrs Keiller consume 3,ooo chests annually from which they produce about 1000 tons of marmalade…In the course of the season, about a million and a half of pound pots of marmalade, besides a considerable number of jars containing from seven to fourteen pounds, are turned out.

In support of their Dundee facility, by the early 1860’s the company was also operating another facility in the Channel Islands at St. Peter Port, Guernsey. Under the direction of Alexander’s brother William, the Channel Island facilities accounted for one-third of Keiller’s yearly 1,000 ton production during the 1860’s and 1870’s.

The reasoning behind this locale was explained in Amanda Bennett’s book, “Secret Guernsey,” published in 2015.

In the 1860’s and ’70’s, Guernsey was one of the largest centers for marmalade production in Europe. Sugar tax in Guernsey amounted to around 2s per 2,000 pounds of sugar – a fraction of what it was in Britain. In seeking a better share of the market, the Dundee marmalade manufacturer James Keiller & Son moved their center of operations from Scotland to Guernsey and, as a result, were able to undercut all their rivals and make a huge profit. Their factory in Park Street employed around 200 local people. In 1879, after 20 years of production, the reduction in sugar duty in Britain signalled an end to the Guernsey branch of operations, and the company disappeared as suddenly as it had arrived.

By the late 1870’s the company had replaced the Guernsey operation with a factory east of London in Silvertown. A January 6, 1899 story in Dundee’s “Courier and Argus” described it like this:

Their mammoth works there cover more than five acres of ground, with extensive frontage to the Thames, and having a specially constructed jetty projecting into the river, at which steamers arrive bearing the fruits of Spain, the Madeiras, Palmer, Corsica, etc.

A post card recently offered for sale on the internet provided this partial glimpse of the Silvertown operation, which I suspect included the buildings on the left along with the railroad siding.

By the early 1880’s Keiller had also expanded the Dundee operation, building a new factory at 9 Albert Square. A May 11, 1900 story in the “Courier and Argus” provided this description of the Dundee operation which by the turn of the century, probably had the appearance of a small campus.

The firm are wholesale confectioners, fruit preservers, and cocoa and chocolate makers, and the factory is one of the largest of its kind in Scotland, employing about 600 hands. The works are of large proportions, and are situated in the center of the city. They occupy the square formed by Commercial Street, High Street, New Inn Entry and Albert Square, with the exception of a line of tenement property on the west side of Commercial Street.

The business registered as a joint stock company in 1893. The registration notice was published in the September 2, 1893 edition of the Glasgow Herald.

At this point, Alexander’s son, John Mitchell Keiller, was made chairman of the company. He had been heading the company since his father’s death in 1877.  He continued in this capacity until his death in 1899 at which point long time employee James Boyd took control. Boyd was the first company head to not be a member of the Keiller family.

Around the time Boyd took control, both the Dundee and Silvertown facilities  would experience  devastating fires.

The Dundee fire was described in the May 11, 1900 edition of the “Birmingham Daily Post” and a pictorial representation of the tragic event appeared in the same day’s issue of the “Courier and Argus.”

A great fire broke out yesterday afternoon at the works of Messrs. James Keiller & Sons, marmalade and confectionery manufacturers, Dundee. The outbreak occurred  through a bursting of a refrigerator in the chocolate department, which is situated in the center of the colossal establishment. Work was in full swing at the time, but fortunately all the female operatives managed to escape by the windows and by means of a fire escape. A later telegram says the fire burned for over three hours, the melting sugar and syrup all the while sending forth pungent odors. A large store and the firm’s offices alone were saved.

A day after the fire, the “Courier and Argus” ran a notice that the store on Castle Street was not affected and remained open.

…and six months later a December 5, 1900 “Courier and Argus” story made it clear that not only was the facility being rebuilt but in the meantime it was business as usual.

The War Office have placed with Messrs. James Keiller & Co., Limited, Dundee and London, an order to supply 216,000 packages of jam for the use of troops in South Africa. This is the sixth government order which Messrs. Keiller have obtained within the past few months, the number of packages of jam supplied now standing at the huge total 1,800,000. It is also satisfactory to learn that this firm is about to reconstruct their working premises in Albert Square, Dundee. The works were partially destroyed by fire several months ago, and since that time temporary arrangements have been made and no stoppage of the work was necessary. The portion of the works burned down, along with other parts left standing, but which will be demolished in order to allow for a complete job being made, will be rebuilt. The machinery will be of the most modern description, and will be driven by electric power. The works will be lighted throughout by electricity…

The rebuilt factory, described like this in a 1907 feature, had all the bells and whistles of the day.

This factory, like its prototype at Silvertown, has recently been rebuilt after a fire. It stands in the heart of the city, and on the site of the original premises where James Keiller first started making marmalade, being in close proximity to the harbor and railway stations. The factory is of substantial erection, being built from stone from the famous Camperdown query. It is four stories high and covers about an acre and a half of ground. In addition to jam, jelly, peel, chocolate and confectionery departments, the factory includes a modern bakehouse for the production of wedding and birthday cakes, shortbread, etc. The departments are connected with each other by automatic telephones and there is a chemical laboratory where the goods are tested before being dispatched. The whole of the place is lighted by electricity generated on the premises, and the same power is used for driving the machinery and lifts.

As the above story states, the Silvertown facility survived the fire there as well and subsequently, a June 8, 1914 story in “The Times” of London described the two operations like this:

Today the works of James Keiller and Sons (Limited) in Dundee employ some 500 workers. In London, at Silvertown, the firm has another works employing 1,100 workers.

By then, the company had also added a third factory in Tangermuende, Germany, which opened in 1906.

In 1919 the entire James Keiller operation was acquired by Crosse & Blackwell. The deal was announced in the January 12,1919 edition of “The Times” of London.

A trade fusion of distinct domestic interest is announced today, for the firths of Crosse and Blackwell. James Keiller and Son, of Dundee, and E. Lazenby and Son have long been household words for jam, marmalade, pickles, sauces, and potted meat. We are officially informed that an agreement has been entered into between them, by which, each company will retain its individuality and continue to manufacture its own specialties independently. The capital of Messrs. Crosse and Blackwell is to be largely increased, so that it may acquire a controlling interest in the other two companies. There is to be an interchange of directors, and Mr. Robert Just Boyd, now managing director of James Keiller and Son (Limited ) will become chairman of Cross and Blackwell (Limited), while Frank S. Blackwell will be vice-chairman.

James Keiller & Son continued to operate under the Crosse & Blackwell umbrella for the next 40 years. Then, in late December, 1959, Cross & Blackwell became the prize in a takeover battle. According to the December 22, 1959 edition of London’s “Evening Standard.”

In this year-end tussle, the rivals are the Nestles chocolate giant and Sir Clavering Fison’s fertilizer combine, which has important food interests as well.

Nestles opened the bidding at 9,700,000 (pounds). Sir Clavering has topped it with an 11,000,000 (pounds) offer.

A little over a month later, the February 6, 1960 edition of the “Evening Standard” reported that Nestles had ultimately won the “tussle.”

Pay day comes next Friday for stockholders in Cross and Blackwell who accepted the 84s a share bid from Nestles.

Through their letter boxes will go cheques totaling 11, 500,000 (pounds). And you can be sure that by around midday they will be busily ringing their stockbrokers seeking new homes for their money.

Nestle retained ownership for over twenty years before selling to the Okhai Group in 1981. Okahi sold it to Barker & Dobson in 1985 who in turn sold it to Ranks Hovis McDougall in 1988. According to a story in the June 21, 1988  edition of London’s “The Guardian,” this marked the end of the Dundee plant as a marmalade maker.

Supermarkets and sweets group Barker & Dobson has sold its James Keiller marmalades and jams to Ranks Hovis McDougall in a deal worth just over 4 million (pounds).

But it is retaining Keiller’s Dundee plant and the butterscotch business and will use the factory space freed by the sale of the preserves machinery and stocks to expand sugar confectionery production. The sale to RHM also includes the Keiller preserves trademarks and goodwill.

B&D acquired James Keiller at the end of 1985 for just under 5 million (pounds). The assets being sold yesterday account for about a quarter of the original business, according to B&D chairman and chief executive John Fletcher.

Yesterday Mr. Fletcher said his group had decided to sell the preserves interests because “there was not sufficient critical mass in the business.” Under RHM’s ownership they would be part of a much larger jams operation, he said.

James Keiller and Son, Orange Marmalade is still available today on Amazon. Who exactly makes it is not clear to me.

So the question still remains…when did Dundee Marmalade make its way to the United States?

It appears this occurred shortly after the business began to expand in 1845. It was around that time Dundee Marmalade began to appear in advertisements run by the firm of John Duncan & Son, who would go on to serve as Keiller’s long time U. S. agent. A July 28, 1911 feature on Duncan in the “Retail Grocer’s Advocate,” described Duncan as:

a thrifty son of Scotland who in 1819 established in New York City a business in rare and fine groceries

In 1840 he partnered with his son, David Duncan, and established John Duncan & Son. Their co-partnership announcement, published in the February 27, 1840 edition of New York’s “Evening Post,” mentioned that:

They offered for sale a general assortment of wines, teas and groceries selected with care expressly for families.

As early as 1845 the company was offering “to dealers,” an item for “Scotch Marmalade in pots,” as evidenced by this advertisement that appeared in the December 10, 1845 edition of the “Evening World.”

Likely Keiller’s, by November 15, 1848 Duncan was calling it Dundee Marmalade in their ads.

Though more well known for their association with Lea & Perrins’ Worcestershire Sauce, John Duncan & Son, and later John Duncan’s Sons, continued to name themselves as an agent for James Keiller & Son in their advertising up through the early 1900’s. The following advertisement, primarily focused on Lea & Perrins’ Worcestershire Sauce, mentioned “John Keiller’s Celebrated Dundee Marmalade” in the last paragraph. The ad appeared in the July 15, 1869 edition of the Buffalo (N.Y.) Commercial.

Here’s another advertisement, this one from 1886, that features both Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce and Dundee Marmalade among other products touted by John Duncan’s Sons.

As far as I can tell, their relationship with the Duncan business ended when James Keiller & Son joined with Cross & Blackwell. A 1922 advertisement in the Boston, Massachusetts City Directory certainly suggests that, by then, Cross & Blackwell had assumed distribution responsibilities for Keiller products in the United States.

At times the two also shared advertisements as evidenced by this 1952 advertisement that appeared in a Virginia newspaper.

Cross & Blackwell continued to maintain a U.S. presence up through the time of the Nestle acquisition. In New York City, they were initially located at 105 Hudson Street and later at 146 West 22nd Street. Then, sometime in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s, they moved across the East River to Long Island City where they were listed at 22-22 Jackson Avenue.

Over the years I’ve found three small earthenware pots. Embossing on the base of each indicates they were made by Maling Pottery in Newcastle.

All three pots bear the same two prize related inscriptions:

Only Prize Medal for Marmalade  London, 1862

Grand Medal of Merit Vienna 1873

This dates them subsequent to the Vienna award; no earlier than 1874. A syndicated “question and answer” newspaper item in 1950 mentioned that this style pot was used until 1914. (I’ve been unable to confirm this end date so please take it with a grain of salt.)

Each of the three pots exhibits a different small letter; “P” “R,” and “C” located below the central wreath that encircles the product and company name.

An article in the Maling Collectors’ Society Newsletter, dated September 2000, suggests that these letters likely indicate batch codes but there’s no logic yet detected associating the letter designation with a specific manufacture date.

According to Bremner’s 1869 “Industries of Scotland” feature, one and a half million of these pots were required every year at a cost of 6,500 (pounds). He went on to describe the process of filling and covering these pots back in the day.

…The boilers are so worked as to be ready in rotation; and when the contents of one are sufficiently boiled the marmalade is emptied into a pan fixed on a small truck and conveyed to the filling room. This is a large apartment, with tables arranged longitudinally, on which thousands of pots and jars are piled. Adjoining the filling room is a sort of scullery in which the pots are washed by a steam machine. The jars, which contain from 7 to 14 lb. each, are filled on a set of scales ; but as the pots are made of a uniform size, holding 1 lb. each, they are not weighed. When the contents have sufficiently cooled, the pots are raised by a steam-elevator to an upper room, where they are covered. About fifty women and girls are employed in this department. A circular piece of tissue paper is first laid on the surface of the marmalade and then a piece of vegetable parchment is tied over all. Formerly animal tissue was used for covering the pots; but now vegetable parchment, a much more cleanly and equally effective material, is being employed.

The pots I found are roughly 4 1/2 inches tall and 3 inches in diameter and are certainly of the 1 lb. variety. Rimmed at the top, this feature was likely required to accommodate the tied covers described above.

On a final note…

The building that housed Keiller’s original 2 Castle Street retail store in Dundee remains to this day. The modern version below is courtesy of Google Earth.


MacLaren’s Imperial Cheese

The first successfully marketed soft cheese, MacLaren’s Imperial, was introduced to the market sometime in late 1891 or early 1892 by Canadian born Alexander F. MacLaren.

According to his April, 1917 obituary he:

originated the method of marketing soft cheese, resulting in the establishment of an important branch of the trade. The new idea brought him fame and fortune, gaining him the presidency of the Western Ontario Dairy Association and the familiar title of “Cheese King of Canada.”

An August 15, 1892 Hudson Bay Company advertisement described his Imperial Cheese like this:

“MacLaren’s Imperial” is a creamy, nutty, full-flavored Canadian cheese, put up in 1/2-lb. to 3-lb. glass jars; it is made in Stratford, Ont.

Acquired by Kraft in the early 1920’s, the brand has survived to this day.

MacLaren was a successful businessman who throughout his career was involved in over 40 corporations. Also a seasoned politician, he served in the Canadian parliament from 1896 to 1908. That being said, a feature on MacLaren published in an 1896 publication called “Farming,”  recounted his early years and made it clear that first and foremost he was a dairyman.

When a child he had the advantage of a year or two of schooling at a rural public school; but he had to begin to earn his own living at the early age of nine years. He worked on a farm until he was seventeen years of age, and then he entered the Fullerton Cheese Factory to learn cheesemaking. He followed this business for several years, and then he began to buy cheese. He first bought for Thomas Ballantyne & Co., of Stratford; then for J. L. Grant & Co., of Ingersoll; then for the Ingersoll Packing Company.

According to the 1903 edition of the “Newspaper Reference Book of Canada,” in 1891 he established his own business buying cheese, and a year later began the manufacture of Maclaren’s Imperial Cheese. A May 4, 1893 article published in Ontario, Canada’s “Windsor Star” picks up the story from there.

He operated out first in the Forester’s block, Stratford, where he thought probably he would be able to get along for the first year. He had not been started more than six months when he had so many orders on hand that he was compelled to move into new and more commodious quarters, where of course he had to employ extra help and further increase the capacity of his factory but still the business keeps on increasing, until he now finds in order to do an even greater business, he must move to a place that will give him the very best shipping facilities, such a place he has in this city and he has decided to move the entire plant up here at once.

MacLaren’s stay in Windsor was short-lived and within a year, on April 17, 1894, he announced that the company was moving again, this time to what would become their long time home in Toronto. Once again the “Windsor Star” told the story.

A.F. MacLaren will move his cheese business to Toronto on May 1st. The firm will be known as A. F. MacLaren & Co., and will manufacture the Imperial Cheese on a much larger scale than was attempted heretofore.

Mr. MacLaren does not complain at the business he has done from this point, as his business doubled since coming here. Windsor is not central enough for his Canadian trade and the profits are largely eaten up in freights.

In his removal from this city Windsor will lose one of its best citizens.

The Toronto business was listed in the directories with an address of 51 Colburne (1895 to 1914) and later 69 Front (1915 to 1920). It initially operated under the name A. F. MacLaren & Co., with MacLaren, along with Henry Wright named as the  proprietors.

Wright, a manufacturer’s agent, was also listed in the directories as the proprietor of his own business called Henry Wright & Co., so it appears that the two firms worked together with MacLaren focused on manufacturing and Wright on sales and distribution.  In 1900 the two companies merged and incorporated as the A. F. Maclaren Cheese Company, Ltd., with MacLaren serving as president and Wight general manager during the first few years. Then, in 1903, with Maclaren’s business interests apparently broadening he took a step back and Wright was listed as both president and general manager.

Back in 1892, faced with a duty of six cents per pound on exports to the United States, MacLaren also established a factory in Detroit Michigan at 571-573 Michigan Avenue.  As early as 1893 they had cultivated agents and were advertising in the United States as evidenced by this February 21, 1893 advertisement in the St. Louis Dispatch.

The Detroit operation was established in association with a man named John D, Thompson who I suspect served as MacLaren’s U. S. Agent during this period. Up through 1899 the business was sometimes referenced in the Detroit directories as MacLaren & Thompson and at other times as A. F. MacLaren & Co . Their Imperial Cheese was exhibited under the MacLaren & Thompson name at this Food Exposition advertised in the April 23, 1897 Chicago Tribune advertisement (fifth line down).

As far as I can tell, Thompson was not involved in the company’s 1900 incorporation.

According to “A History of Ontario: It’s Resources and Development,” published in 1907, around the turn of the century the company was established throughout Canada and much of the United States. In addition to their Detroit facility they had established U. S. offices in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco. According to a May 18, 1898 advertisement in the Eau Claire (Wisconsin) Leader/Telegram it was around this time that they made a small contribution to U. S. naval history.

Alex.MacLaren, the well-known Stratford cheeseman, has through his Boston agents, contracted to supply MacLaren’s Imperial Cheese to the United States warships Columbia, Minneapolis and Lehigh. These vessels are now cruising off the Middle and Eastern States ready to intercept the Spanish fleet should it appear thereabout.

No wonder that our navy sweeps all before it. That MacLaren makes a notable cheese. Sailors fed on it are bound to assert themselves, it gives them stomach for the fight.

It was also around the turn of the century that the company began branching out overseas. One early effort to increase their product awareness across the Atlantic was a holiday campaign that induced Canadians to send Imperial Cheese to relatives and friends living in the British Isles. The hook, used today more than ever, was “free shipping.” This 1904 advertisement laid out the deal promoted in several Canadian newspapers during the fall/winter of 1904.

The “History of Ontario” went on to say that by the time it was published in 1907 MacLaren’s had become known world wide having been introduced in countries that included Australia, China, Japan and South Africa. At that point the company’s output was the largest of any North American company.

Their growth was no doubt driven in large part by their signature product, Imperial Cheese, which according to this advertisement in the 1904 edition of the Steward’s Manual was winning awards world wide in the early 1900’s.

It was also in 1904 that John D. Rockerfeller served as a spokesman for Imperial Cheese, though, most likely, he was completely unaware of his role.

While the word “probably,”inserted in the above advertisement provides a clue, another advertisement published around the same time made it clear that while Rockefeller did promote the value of cheese, it was actually MacLaren’s marketing department that made the connection between Rockefeller and MacLaren’s Imperial.

Rockefeller Says: “Eat Cheese.”

John D. Rockefeller, the Standard Oil King, was interviewed in Philadelphia the other day, and asked why his health had so greatly improved. His answer consisted of good advice as to the benefits of slow eating, but he added a most interesting opinion as follows:

“Do you know that I recently read an article by a well known scientific man, to the effect that cheese is an excellent article of diet? I wish that I had read that article a long time ago. I had been afraid that cheese had a tendency to produce indigestion and for that reason never touched it. Now I find that its effects are directly contrary, and I eat a great deal of it, and find that it agrees with me. Take my advice, eat cheese, eat slowly, and take outdoor exercise, and you will enjoy good health.”

MacLaren evidently eats MacLaren’s Imperial. He had visited the World’s Fair where MacLaren’s Imperial Cheese secured 100 points in degree of excellence. MacLaren’s Imperial is a perfect food, and has been pronounced by connoisseurs the highest grade of cheese ever shown.

While Imperial Cheese was their signature product, the company also marketed a number of other cheeses several of which were included in this 1912 advertisement.

In addition, they also included a peanut butter, dessert jelly and mustard on the product menu.

In late 1920 the MacLaren Imperial Cheese Company was purchased and consolidated with the J. L. Kraft & Bros. Co., of Chicago, Illinois under the name: “Kraft-MacLaren Cheese Co., Ltd.” The announcement of the newly formed Kraft-MacLaren Corporation was announced in the January 21, 1921 edition of the (Toronto) National Post.

Announcement is made of the incorporation of the Kraft-MacLaren Cheese Co., Ltd., capitalized at $1,000,000, and having its head office in Montreal. The new company has acquired the interests of the MacLaren Imperial Cheese Co., Ltd., of Toronto, with factories in that city and Detroit. It also takes over the Canadian business and a large portion of the export trade of J. L. Kraft & Brothers Co., of Chicago. A modern factory, refrigerating plant and warehouse, to cost $200,000, is now under construction in this city.

MacLaren had passed away three years earlier in 1917, but Henry Wright continued as a director in the new corporation up through the mid- 1920’s and possibly longer.

Twentieth century Imperial Cheese containers produced under the Kraft name occasionally appear for sale on the internet.


As late as January 14, 2015 a recipe published in the (Vancouver) Province called for MacLaren’s.

The product can still be found in Canadian Walmart’s to this day.

The jar I found is white and 2-1/2 inches tall. Its 1-3/4 inches in diameter, though widens abruptly at the top to 2-1/4 inches. It matches the jar shown in this 1912 advertisement (sans the top and label).


A 1909 price list published in the April 28th edition of the “Victoria (British Columbia) Daily Times” mentioned three sizes being offered around that time; large, small and individual. As small as this one is, it’s almost certainly the individual size.

The jar is embossed on the base “MacLaren’s Imperial Cheese.” The embossing also includes their trade mark  (Serial No. 71002870) described like this in the trade mark records:

Heads of oxen, cows, calves, bulls…medals (alone or suspended from ribbons or pins). Banners.

The first commercial use was indicated in the records as December 18, 1891.

On a final note, I couldn’t end this post without touching on one final talent exhibited by the founder of MacLaren’s Imperial Cheese, Alexander F. MacLaren. As it turns out, in addition to his varied business and legislative pursuits, he was also heavily involved with the game of curling. An April 28, 1899 feature in the Montreal Gazette tells the story.

Alexander F. MacLaren is one of the jolliest of curlers and his presence in a game and at curlers’ social gatherings is always welcome. For many years he has been a member of the Stratford Curling Club. He has worked his way up through the grades of apprenticeship to be a master of the intricacies of the game. He is president of the Stratford Club, and is at all times ready with advice, skill and help to further the interests of curling. His training and experience on the curling rink have fitted him for high legislative duties, and for some years he has been a member of the Dominion Parliament, where no doubt, he will be an intelligent skip to direct the policy of his party. He is known among his friends as Imperial MacLaren, imperial in his business, imperial in curling, imperial in the Dominion Parliament, imperial in all the relations of life, and under this name of Imperial MacLaren, he is almost as well known in Europe as in America. He is now president of the Ontario Curling Association, which delights to honor such men.

Armour and Company, Chicago (Armour Laboratories)

Established in the mid 1860’s by Phillip Danforth Armour and John Plankinton, Armour and Company was a meat packing business that by the turn of the century had grown into one of the largest companies in the United States. For many years its presence in Chicago’s Union Stock Yards contributed, in no small way, to that city’s reputation as the capital of the American meatpacking industry.

Not only a meat producer, the company was heavily involved in the manufacture of by-products utilizing materials that were typically wasted in the slaughtering process. According to an October 20, 1901 story in the Buffalo (N.Y.) Times:

It is a saying in Chicago that the house of Armour & Co., in the slaughter of hogs, “loses nothing but the squeal of the hogs” when they are led to the slaughter. Employing many thousands of men in the varied industries growing out of their vast slaughtering business, the firm has found it immensely profitable to utilize all portions of the raw material by the firm.

The story went on to provide this menu of  products manufactured under the Armour name at the turn of the century. The list would grow well into the hundreds by the 1920’s

The business got its start with John Plankinton, not in Chicago but further north in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His biography, available on wisconsinhistory.org tells the story.

John Plankinton was a meat packer and businessman. In 1849 he began the packing of beef and hog products, and in 1852 formed a partnership with Frederick Layton under the firm name of Layton and Plankinton Packing Co. In 1861 Layton withdrew and Plankinton continued the business alone until 1863, when he was joined by Phillip D. Armour, and the firm became Plankinton, Armour and Co. (Plankinton & Armour)

Armour had arrived in Milwaukee by way of California where he had been lured by the gold rush.  Whether he made any money on the west coast is apparently open to speculation. According to his biography published in “A History of the City of Chicago,” published in 1900:

Mr Armour returned to the East in 1856, after having a varied experience in mining enterprises, and it was conjectured at the time that he brought back with him considerable of the golden dust, but the facts of this interesting matter are known only to himself.

Another biography, this one published in the January 7, 1901 edition of Chicago’s “Inter Ocean,” described Armour’s Milwaukee years leading up to his association with Plankinton.

Mr. Armour went to Milwaukee, where he had a friend, Frederick S. Miles, who was engaged in the wholesale grocery and commission business, and soon became his business partner, the style of the firm being Miles & Armour. The firm was prosperous, but in 1863 Mr. Armour withdrew from it to engage in the shipment of wheat, in which he saw more money. He purchased the largest grain elevator in the city, and was again as successful as could be desired.

In the meantime the pork-packing firm of Plankton & Layton was dissolved, and John Plankinton formed a new firm, in the same business with Mr. Armour, under the style of Plankton & Armour.


It appears that shortly after his association with Plankinton the financial foundation for the Armour business was laid. His “Inter Ocean” biography went on to say:

The firm was successful from the first, and suddenly amassed a great fortune, all through the brilliant management of Mr. Armour. This happened in the spring of 1863, when the war of the rebellion was drawing to a close. At that time pork was selling at $40 a barrel, and the New York operators were buying it recklessly under the impression that it would go to $60. Mr. Armour believed that the war would soon end, and that pork would decline to $20 or less. He laid his plans before his partners, who gave him their approval, and then went posthaste to New York, where he sold pork short for $40 as long as anybody would buy it. Sure enough, pork soon fell to $18, and Mr. Armour and his partners were made millionaires.

In the meantime Phillip’s brother, Herman O. Armour, had started a grain commission business in Chicago sometime in 1862 and by 1864 the two brothers along with Plankinton had joined together in that city under the name H. O. Armour & Co. In 1868 they began packing pork under the name Armour & Co. and by 1870 all the business transacted in Chicago was  done under the Armour & Co. name.

According to a story written years later in the December 2, 1951 edition of the Tribune, the Chicago operation moved to the Union Stock Yards in 1872 where it would remain until the late 1950’s.

The first Armour hog plant was the old Bell house in the Archer Avenue packing center which had been built up during the Civil War. About 1868 packers began to move south to the area just west of the stock yards and Armour followed in 1872.

As early as 1865 Herman left another brother, Joseph, in charge of the Chicago operation and opened an office in New York under the name Armour, Plankinton & Co. The office was first listed in the 1866/1867 New York City directory at 129 Broad Street in Manhattan.

By the end of the decade the Armours had also established another plant, this one in Kansas City run by a fourth brother, Simeone Armour, under the name Plankinton & Armours.

As early as the mid-1870’s a story in the Kansas City Times clearly viewed their operation as the leader in the country and world’s meat packing industry.

Thoroughly identified with the packing business of the whole country, there are no names in the United States more familiar to the trade than those of the Plankinton’s and the Armours, there being two of the former-father and son-and four of the latter-brothers. These six gentlemen stand at the head of beyond all comparisons the heaviest beef and pork packing business of the world…

A May 10, 1880 story published in the The (London) Times featured the American bacon and pork industry and included this description of the Armour business.

A few hogs are slaughtered and salted by the farmers, but the great bulk pass to the packers…

Messrs. Armour & Co. handle nearly 1,000,000 hogs annually at Chicago, and have similar establishments at Milwaukee and at Kansas City, at each of which upwards of 400,000 are slaughtered and packed. From small beginnings in 1860 their business has steadily increased; within six years it has doubled. At the Chicago works at the stock yards, 10,000 pigs are frequently killed daily in summer; 20,000 constitute a full day’s slaughtering in winter. Two thousand tons of meat are sometimes dispatched in a single day from the railway sidings which are conveniently brought into the premises. The work covers 14 acres; the buildings are four stories high, and are being constantly added to. There are six lifts, and hydrants and fire hose are fixed at convenient points on every story. A trained fire brigade is recruited from among the operatives. The premises are insured for a million dollars, the annual premium on different parts of the works varying from 1 to 1 3/4  percent. Two thousand men are employed in summer and 3,500 in winter.

The raw material which keeps this great establishment moving is conveniently found in the contiguous market where 60,000 hogs are sometimes pitched (sold) in a morning, and on one occasion last summer the number ran up to 80,000… Messrs. Armour have large pens and yards where their purchases are fed and watered until required. No fasting is practiced as in England. The grunter has his breakfast even if he is doomed before dinner time.

An advertisement published in the March 18, 1882 edition of the (New Orleans) Times-Democrat, for one of Armour’s agents, McCloskey & Henderson,  provided this list of canned meat products being  produced and shipped out of Chicago by Armour at the time. By this time the business included beef and even chicken soup, as well as pork.

Over the course of several years during the early 1880’s the Armours and Plankinton severed their various business relationships, apparently amicably. As the dust settled, the resultant situation was summarized in the October 26, 1884 edition of the Kansas City Times.

As appears from a dissolution notice published in the advertisement column of THE TIMES this morning, the partnership which has existed for twenty-five years between Mr P.D. Armour and Mr. John Plankinton, has been dissolved, Mr. Armour retiring from the Milwaukee house and Mr. Plankinton from the Kansas City house, which will in the future be known under the firm name of the Armour Packing Company.

The dissolution does not effect either the Chicago or New York houses, as Mr. Plankinton has not been connected with the former business for several years and a few weeks ago sold his interest in the New York house to Mr. H. O. Armour retaining an interest in but one establishment, that of Milwaukee, of which he is the chief owner.

It was during the remainder of the 1800’s that the Armours laid the foundation for much of the company’s expansion into industries related to their meat packing business, adding a glue factory, soap works and a pharmaceutical department among others to their operation.

A story in the January 1, 1886 edition of the Chicago Tribune announced the acquisition of the Wahl Bros. glue factory.

In a circular-letter to the trade, dated December 21, 1885, they announce the purchase of Wahl Bros’ extensive glue factory (which covers eight acres) in this city, together with the good will and all appurtenances. They will continue to produce glue in all it’s varieties, and all other products that their predecessors did, including gelatin, brewers’ isinglass, size for papermakers, bone-meal, neatsfoot oil, etc., etc. The regular packing business of the firm furnishes them with a fresh daily supply of materials, which is such an essential feature in securing superior qualities and perfect results… They employ 300 hands in the glue factory.

Ten years later, another item published in the Chicago Tribune, this one on May 5, 1896, announced the formation of their soap works.

Commencing this day the firm of Armour & Co. has added another feature to their business, to be known as the Armour Soap Works. The new building and plant are situated at Thirty-first and Benson Streets. With the inauguration of the soap works Armour & Co. now utilize everything in the way of raw material from the hog and steer.

An April 17, 1897 advertisement For Oshkosh Wisconsin’s “Kruschke’s” Department Store, confirmed that less than a year later the soap works was manufacturing at least three different soap brands.

Both the glue works and soap works were included in this May 28, 1897 advertisement in the Chicago Chronicle.

By the early 1890’s a pharmaceutical department had also been established  as evidenced by this excerpt from an April 10, 1892 Chicago Tribune article.

In the downtown office of Armour & Co. are several rows of shelves filled with bottles and at first sight a stranger would think the “old man,” as P.D. Armour is called by his employees among themselves, was running a drug store on the side to make both ends meet. In these bottles are a great and unique variety of preparations extracted from animals killed at the yards. The man who manages this department is a duly licensed druggist and physician, and the big packer’s hobby when receiving visitors is to invite them to sample his dried bullock’s blood or desiccated ox gail.

It’s likely that the above mentioned licensed druggist and his department were the very beginning of  Armour Laboratories. According to a November 13, 1949 Tribune story:

One of their earliest (products) was pepsin, a commercially valuable compound recovered from the stomach linings of hogs. For many rears the rudimentary laboratories at Armour’s were called the “pepsin department.”

On April 15, 1900 Phillip Armour formed a corporation that included most, though not all, of the Armour businesses. His reasoning was explained in a February 18, 1900 Chicago Tribune story.

The business of Armour & Co always has been carried on as a partnership. The recent death of Phillip D. Armour Jr., and the illness of Phillip D, Armour, the founder and head of the firm, are said to have supplied the reasons for deciding to put the business in a stock company. For several months the elder Armour has been ill, but it was not believed his illness was sufficiently grave to warrant any change in the management of the business. The death of his son was a severe blow, however, and is said to have determined the plan of incorporation.

The new corporation included the packing houses (excluding the Armour Packing House of Kansas City),  glue factory and soap factory, as well as a felt and hair factory and rail car shops.

The factories that will be taken into the stock company are large concerns. The glue factory is one of the largest in the country. The soap factory of Armour & Co., a more recent establishment, is also an important plant. The hair factory has an output which is said to be unequalled by that of any similar institution. The car factory is used to manufacture and keep in repair the hundreds of cars used in the transportation of the meat and other products of the various Armour industries.

In addition to the manufacturing plants, the packing house includes the large cattle interests of the firm. The agencies of Armour & Co. also will fall into the corporation. In every city of any size in the United States Armour & Co. has an agency for the distribution of dressed beef and the other packing house products of the firm. There are besides agencies in foreign countries. These are to be found in every port of consequence in Europe. In Asia and Africa the firm also carries on its widespread business.

The stockholders of the new corporation were Phillip D. Armour (50%), his son, J. Ogden Armour (25%) and the estate of his deceased son Phillip D. Armour, Jr. (25%). Shortly after the business incorporated, Phillip Sr. also passed away and J. Ogden Armour assumed the presidency. It was J. Ogden Armour who, according to an August 17, 1927 Chicago Tribune story, developed the business into a world wide organization.

Expansion in this country was followed by invasion in the South American field. In 1909 Armour & Co. acquired an interest in an Argentine packing plant. Now (1927) it has in that country five large plants whose products go to the world meat trade.

In the teens their food product menu extended well beyond the by-products of their meat packing business.  A product list published in 1919 bears this out.

According to the February, 1917 edition of a journal called “Advertising & Selling,” their food product line alone had reached over 300 items that were being distributed by 350 branch houses throughout the country. So it was out of necessity that around this time they unified much of their advertising under the “Armour Oval Label”

According to the 1917 story in “Advertising and Selling:”

About two years ago (1915) it was adopted as a permanent trademark for all Armour top grade products, and since then has appeared in all the advertising of these products; newspaper, poster, magazine, window display, booklet advertising, alike, all have the Oval Label as a prominent and permanent feature of the copy. (A label committee , composed of representatives from the selling, operative and executive departments, decides upon the eligibility of a product for the Oval Label, only the highest quality products being admitted to this class.)

Armour Laboratories had also grown significantly from the fledgling department of the early 1890’s.  An advertisement published in the 1919 edition of the “Modern Hospital Year Book,” included the laboratory’s pitch to the medical community.

We are headquarters for the organotherapeutic agents. Our abattoirs supply enormous quantities of glands and membranes from which digestive ferments and endocrine gland preparations are made. Raw material is selected with rigorous care. Nothing but healthy normal material is employed, and this is put into process before any deterioration has set in.

The laboratory is conveniently located. All desiccating is done in vacuum ovens at a low temperature, which prevents injury to active principles.

The advertisement went on to provide a descriptive list of their preparations.

The post World War I years brought pressures on the business that would ultimately, in the 1920’s, transition it from a company closely held by the Armour family to a publicly held company. A feature on J. Ogden Armour published at the time of his death in the August 17, 1927 edition of the Chicago Tribune described the influence of World War I on the corporation.

During the war American packers carried tremendous meat supplies, both for the American armies and for those of European allies. Prices of live stock and meat joined the wartime inflation.The business of Armour & Co. increased sales to around $1,000,000,000 a year…

With the abrupt ending of the war American packers and the allied governments alike had vast quantities of meat on hand. The wartime demand faded. Governments cancelled contracts and threw their surplus stocks on the market for whatever they would bring. Prices of live stock and meat dropped. With the post-war depression the currencies of Europe also plunged down in value.

The result of all this was that the large inventories of American meat packers lost tremendously in value. Their stocks in Europe were paid for in constantly depreciating currencies. It is estimated that Armour & Co. lost around $125,000,000 in two years.

Ultimately in 1923 a refinancing of the business was effected that ultimately resulted in J. Ogden Armour both relinquishing the presidency and selling the majority of his stock.

The Associated Press announced the organizational change on January 3, 1923.

Armour & Co. for the first time since it was organized in 1862, today operated without a member of the Armour family in the president’s chair.

Instead F. Edison White, a worker from the ranks, occupied the controlling station made vacant by the resignation of J. Ogden Armour yesterday, who became chairman of the board of directors.

However, members of the Armour family will retain important positions with the company. Phillip D. Armour III who has been a vice president of the company was designated first vice president, and Lester Armour was continued as a member of the board of directors.

A Chicago Tribune Story, dated February 14, 1925 revealed that the refinancing plan also included an option to purchase the bulk of Mr. Armour’s stock holdings within five years. The story went on to say that the purchase began at that time with a third of his holdings.

Armour & Co., largest of the packing concerns, will be owned by a large body of investors and will cease to be a family corporation with the working out of plans made known yesterday.

It is understood that about one third of the total stock holdings of J. Ogden Armour will be bought by the banking group, which conducted the financial reorganization of Armour & Co. two years ago, and then offered publicly to investors. Later on and as market conditions permit, further offerings of stock will be made.

J. Ogden Armour’s 1927 Chicago Tribune obituary mentioned that Armour’s stock holdings at the time of his death were not large, so it appears much of his remaining stock was sold over the next two years. Four years later in January, 1931 P. D. Armour, the grandson and namesake of the founder, resigned as first vice president. He would be the last member of the Armour family to hold an executive position in the corporation.

Overall the company had its ups and downs but continued to grow through the 1930’s and early 1940’s as evidenced by this financial snapshot included in the Chicago Tribune’s January 23, 1943 edition.

Stockholders were given a glimpse of company progress as indicated by a comparison of balance sheets of last year and of 1923, after a reorganization. Funded debt was reduced from 144 million to 62 million dollars during the 20 years, and sales increased from slightly more than 800 millions to 1 billion 300 millions.

Around this time they were contributing significantly to the World War II effort, so much so that an April 11, 1943 Chicago Tribune story announced that 90 to 95 per cent of Armour’s total production was devoted to war production. As a result, the army and navy awarded their E flag to company officials.

Notice that Armour & Co. had been elected to the award came in a letter from Robert P. Patterson, Undersecretary of War. The letter read in part; “You men and women of Armour & Co. are making an outstanding contribution to victory. You have every reason to be proud of the record you have set, and your practical patriotism stands as an example to all Americans.

Among the company’s specific accomplishments in aiding the war, (Armour)President Eastwood cited the following: “The development of wood veneer drums to replace metal drums, such as are used in the shipment of lard; a new method of smoking ham and bacon for army use which takes 96 hours instead of seven days; the telescoping of lambs to save shipping space.”

He also pointed to a new product “Tushonka,” a canned pork popular with Russians; to a new style of “stuffing horn” for packaging of ground beef; and, finally to the formula for “Pemmican,” an emergency ration carried by airplanes and ships.

The award also recognized the achievements of Armour Laboratories.

Brig. Gen. C. C. Hillman, acting Surgeon General, Washington D. C., said in his statement of the award to Armour Laboratories that they had “given a rich endowment, not only to the war effort but to the entire field of medicine. Listed on the chart of Armour’s achievements will be their production of ligatures, insulin, and other medical supplies for the military service. In addition to this, your conversion of facilities for the absorption of great production loads all shall be listed on the war chart victory.”

After the war the company continued to introduce new products and innovations. In 1948 the company introduced their famous brand, DIAL deodorant soap.

An August 11, 1948 Chicago Tribune advertisement bragged that the soap was so popular that after being introduced, it immediately sold out.

In the mid-1950’s Armour became the first company to vacuum package their bacon as well as other meats. A May 5, 1956 Chicago Tribune feature provided the details.

Armour was the very first to discover how to keep bacon slicer-fresh from packing house to your pan. Old style packages of bacon usually lost freshness after a week or 10 days, so Armour research set about developing a package that would maintain freshness for three weeks.

Since air was known to be the villain that made bacon lose flavor, the obvious solution was to remove the air and pack bacon in a vacuum.

Obvious? Well not exactly. While vacuum packed jars and cans have been used for years, the requirement that a bacon package be both flexible and transparent gave the problem new complexity.

Several hundred kinds of materials, and nearly as many different shapes and types of packages were tried and discarded.

Finally, a new plastic was tested and found to have just the right combination of strength and pliability for use in newly developed vacuum packaging machines.

Subsequent taste tests revealed that bacon packaged the new way keeps fresh much longer than was once thought possible. This fundamental research on bacon packaging was so successful that it soon led to vacuum packaging of many other products.

Armour Laboratories was also making significant advances during the late late 1940’s and 1950’s. Some were enumerated in a December 2, 1951 story.

Recently the science of animal utilization has reached its highest point at Armour & Co., which is now headed by Frederick Specht. The company views its laboratory accomplishments primarily from a humanitarian, rather than a money making angle.

The outstanding achievement was development of the pituitary hormone , ACTH, which was ordered into production in the early summer of 1949. It has been used in treating arthritis and 20 other diseases. A later development is trypsin, which has the ability to turn dead flesh into liquid without damaging live tissue. Trypsin, like the insulin used by diabetics, come from a meat animal’s pancreas.

Hormones are not the only medical products of meat packing. Liver extracts are used in treating anemia, many products are made from animal blood, and a stomach lining substance is used for ulcer.

As the 1960’s approached the overall corporate picture was apparently beginning to lose some shine. In 1959 Armour discontinued all slaughtering operations in Chicago. A story dated June 9, 1959 in the Chicago Tribune detailed the facts and reasoning behind the decision.

Armour & Co. announced Monday that it will discontinue all slaughtering operations at six plants, including the one at Chicago…

Approximately 5,000 employees will be affected at all plants, including 2,000 in Chicago. Armour employs nearly 3,000 persons in its Chicago unit, but not all of them work in slaughtering operations. Such Chicago operations as refining of fats and oils, wool pulling, soap manufacturer, and sales and distribution will be continued. In addition, Armour will continue to buy cattle on the Chicago market for its eastern plants…

The company said there were several basic causes for its inability to reverse substantial losses encountered at these plants. These include obsolescence of buildings, many of which were constructed more than 50 years ago; shifts in live stock numbers sectionally; declining receipts of live stock at some markets; and a general and widely recognized condition of excess production capacity in the meat packing industry.

Ultimately Armour was acquired by the Greyhound Corporation in 1970. This strange marriage is explained by company histories.com.

The country’s leader in the motor coach industry since 1930, Greyhound under chairperson and CEO Gerald H. Trautman had begun to diversify its operations in the 1960’s in response to declining bus ticket sales. As automobiles and airline tickets became less expensive and bus line profits dwindled, Greyhound acquired small companies in the fields of automobile leasing, money orders, insurance, and catering. Greyhound board members were approached by Armour in the late 1960’s when General Host threatened Armour with a hostile takeover, and Greyhound was persuaded to add Armour to its subsidiaries. The 1970 $400 million purchase was Greyhound’s first major acquisition. To reduce its investment, Greyhound immediately sold $225 million of Armour assets, retaining only the meatpacking and consumer products subsidiaries. The meatpacking operation was renamed Armour Foods, while the consumer products operation was renamed Armour-Dial.

Less than a year later, and after more than 100 years, the Arizona Republic announced that, now a subsidiary of Greyhound, the Armour headquarters was leaving Chicago for Phoenix Arizona.

Greyhound Corp. the nation’s 29th largest firm, and its big subsidiary, Armour and Co., are moving from Chicago to Phoenix.

Gerald H. Trautman of Paradise Valley, chairman and chief executive said the move will affect ” a few hundred”employees of the headquarters staffs of the Greyhound Corp. and of these subsidiaries:

Armour and Co., Greyhound Bus Lines, Greyhound Leasing and Financial Corp., and Greyhound Computer Corp., except its service center personnel.

The largest of Greyhound’s subsidiaries is Armour and Co., acquired in 1970. From its start in meat packing, that firm has diversified into a modern industrial complex.


Today Armour meat products continue to be sold by Smithfield Foods and are still marketed under an oval label.

Over the years I’ve found two Armour bottles, both small and mouth blown. One embossed “Armour Laboratories,” is colored brown and approximately one ounce in size. The Armour Laboratory Pharmaceutical List, published in the 1919 “Modern Hospital Yearbook” included a one ounce bottle size for both pepsin and pancreatin powders.

The second bottle is approximately two ounces in size and embossed “Armour and Company,” not “Armour Laboratories,” which leads me to believe its not a pharmaceutical bottle. Armour produced lemon, orange and vanilla flavoring extracts in several size bottles, including two ounces, so I’m leaning in that direction.