Entries in Food and Food Processing

Brach, Emil Julius
Emil J. Brach opened a small candy shop on North Avenue in Chicago’s largely German-American North Side neighborhood in 1904. By the time of his death forty-three years later, his candy company would be the world’s largest maker of popular-priced bulk candies, with a sprawling factory on Chicago’s west side believed to be the largest candy factory in the United States. Continue Reading »
Cramer Sachs, Charlotte
Charlotte Cramer Sachs was an artist, inventor, entrepreneur, food and wine enthusiast, and an early developer of prepared cake and muffin mixes. Her company Cramer Products Company pioneered the manufacture and distribution of many types of prepared food mixes under the brand Joy Prepared Mixes. Continue Reading »
German Immigrants and J. P. Morgan’s Securities Underwriting Syndicates
The Immigrant Entrepreneurship project offers a transnational perspective on American history. Transaction records from the J. P. Morgan & Co. Syndicate Books help us understand how a transnational society of bankers networked funds around the world by forming syndicates to support the globalization process. Syndicate participation provided a way for many German immigrants and German-Americans to attain both economic success and social status in America. Continue Reading »
Goelitz, Gustav
Jelly Belly traces its roots to the entrepreneurial efforts of Gustav Goelitz, who came to the United States in 1866 and with his younger brothers, Albert and George, built a successful confectionery business, Gustav Goelitz Candy, in Belleville, Illinois, and later Goelitz Brothers' Candy in St. Louis, Missouri. Continue Reading »
Griesedieck, Joseph
Joseph Griesedieck was one of the most influential brewers in St. Louis in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. From the 1880s to the 1910s, he helped run several city breweries. At the outset of Prohibition, he acquired the Falstaff label and built the Falstaff Corporation around it. While many other brewers failed during Prohibition, Griesedieck kept his company afloat by selling “near beer,” soft drinks, carbonated water, and pork products. After the repeal of Prohibition, he obtained the first federal permit to begin brewing beer legally again. Within five years, the Falstaff Brewing Corporation was operating four plants in three states and had gained a national market. Continue Reading »
Guenther, Carl Hilmar
Carl Hilmar Guenther established a mill on the Texas frontier in 1851 that grew into one of the largest food processing companies in the nation, producing well-known flour brands such as Pioneer and White Wings, home baking products under the Morrison Mills name, and Sun-Bird and Williams prepared foods. Guenther originally came to America in 1848, seeking greater political freedom and hoping for economic opportunity. Continue Reading »
Hormel, George
George Albert Hormel, the son of German immigrants, used the knowledge, skills, and values he learned from his family to succeed as an independent meatpacker in an industry dominated by corporate giants. Continue Reading »
Keppele, John Henry
John Henry Keppele was a successful, respected, and well-known butcher, innkeeper, merchant, ship owner, and real estate entrepreneur. Continue Reading »
Kleberg, Robert Justus II
An icon of American frontier life, King Ranch harkens back to a mythical age when the Wild West was tamed and settled. Its success is a testimony to the hard work and vision of second-generation German immigrant Robert Kleberg II. During his long tenure as ranch manager, Kleberg made key improvements in the areas of livestock and health, pasture management, and ranching facilities. His story, though, would be incomplete if one failed to mention the significant contributions he made to the urban and economic development of South Texas as a whole. Continue Reading »
Klein, William
The entrepreneurial careers of William “Bill” Klein and his brother Frederick began in the shadows of Milton Hershey’s burgeoning chocolate empire on the streets of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. After working at Hershey's Chocolate Company, the brothers relocated to Elizabethtown and founded their own company. The Klein Chocolate Company was hugely successful and remained in family hands throughout its existence, at times providing employment for brothers and sisters and financial security for the entire immigrant family. Continue Reading »
Kroger, Bernard Heinrich
Bernard Heinrich Kroger, known nationally for his eponymous chain of wholesale grocery stores, capitalized on America’s growing consumerism by buying wholesale and slashing prices, and by reaching a massive audience with his colorful and innovative advertising campaigns. By the end of World War I, the Kroger grocery store had evolved from a local neighborhood shop into a national business. Continue Reading »
Ludwig, Christopher
Christopher Ludwig was one of the most successful German immigrant entrepreneurs in the British North American colonies and later the United States during the late eighteenth century. Following his arrival in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1754, Ludwig converted his savings and culinary skills into a bakery and confectionary shop in the Letitia Court district. The enterprise thrived, which allowed Ludwig to expand his bakeshop and branch out into other business endeavors. Within two decades Ludwig had amassed significant wealth that included ownership of numerous properties in the region. Continue Reading »
Miller, Henry
Henry Miller immigrated to the United States in 1847. After building up a thriving butcher business in San Francisco, he engaged in cattle rearing and farming, invested heavily in irrigation systems, and formed a partnership with fellow German immigrant Charles Lux in 1858. By the end of the nineteenth century Miller & Lux had become America’s largest integrated cattle and meatpacking enterprise, owning close to 1.3 million acres of land in California, Nevada, and Oregon. Continue Reading »
Rath, John Washington
John Washington Rath, a founder of the Rath Packing Company in Waterloo, Iowa, played a major role in the American meatpacking business for more than fifty years. Rath served as president of the family business from 1898 to 1943, and then as chairman of the board until 1950. John Washington Rath and the Rath Packing Company also played a critical role in Waterloo’s development as a center of industry during the first half of the twentieth century. The Rath brand was a force in the American meat industry for years until faltering sales and labor struggles led to the company’s decline. Continue Reading »
Rueckheim, Frederick
Integrating his German-inspired dedication to education with the newfound economic opportunities in the United States, Frederick Rueckheim recognized the profitability of popcorn, a nineteenth-century commodity product, and turned that commodity into a differentiated, branded product: Cracker Jack. This iconic American confection of molasses, popcorn, and peanuts in a recognizable brand packaging is still sold globally. Continue Reading »
Schnering, Otto
Nicknamed the “U.S. Candy Bar King,” Otto Y. Schnering used his personal sales skills and understanding of advertising and marketing to build the Curtiss Candy Company in Chicago and the post–World War I United States chocolate candy industry into modern, successful enterprises. Continue Reading »
Schoellkopf, Jacob Frederick
Jacob Frederick Schoellkopf immigrated to the United States in 1842 and through a combination of thoughtful, strategic decision-making and a fair dose of luck, built a family empire in and around Buffalo, New York, that he passed down to his son and grandsons. Trained in Württemberg as a tanner, he took major risks in the U.S. by venturing into commercial sectors in which he had no knowledge or experience. Yet, by working closely with native-born Americans who were experts in these fields and by sending his children back to Germany for further education, he found himself on the cutting edge of a number of fields including hydroelectric power generation and aniline dye production. Continue Reading »
Schwan, Marvin
Marvin Schwan was the founder of Schwan’s Sales Enterprises, Inc., one of the largest producers of frozen food in the world. Continue Reading »
Spreckels, Claus
Born in Lamstedt, Claus Spreckels settled in California and built a sugar empire that expanded into a multitude of sectors, including: transport, gas and electricity, real estate, newspapers, banks, and breweries. Continue Reading »
Spreckels, Walter
Walter Spreckels emigrated to the United States to become a clerk in his cousin’s sugar factory in Yonkers, New York. He started a family and made a fine career as a sugar business executive. World War I interrupted this steady improvement when Spreckels was deemed an “alien enemy” and barred from his position. However, he eventually rose to become president of the Syrup Products Company, a subsidiary of his former employer, the Federal Sugar Refining Company. After being pushed out of the company as a result of running afoul of Prohibition enforcement, he went on to become a labor negotiator for the National Recovery Agency and eventually a private industrial relations consultant in California. Continue Reading »