20th Century, Agriculture, Business, farming, History, Minnesota, Uncategorized

Jennie-O Turkeys

Unknown

Photo credit: mnopedia.org

1949
Turkey farmer Earl Olson buys a processing plant in Willmar, the beginning of Jennie-O Foods. Wheat feed and the growth of Jennie-O and related companies make this region a hub of turkey farming. By 1999, Jennie-O turns buys enough turkeys from independent farmers to produce 860 million pounds of 400 different turkey products. The company is known as the world’s largest turkey processor.*

For readers outside the midwest, or unfamiliar with this amazing bird, we first ask the question; why does turkey matter? Our state is fortunate to be home to the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association; a think-tank for the center-piece of our Thanksgiving meal! Please peruse some of these facts below to see why the MTGA is so enthusiastic about phasianidae!

“Minnesota is ranked #1 for both turkey production and processing in the U.S.
Each turkey generates $17.46 of direct economic activity to the state.
Minnesota’s turkey companies – Jennie-O Turkey Store, Turkey Valley Farms and Northern Pride Cooperative – employ over 7,600 people.
Turkeys are allowed to move freely throughout the barn. They are not kept in cages.
It takes 75-80 pounds of feed to raise a 30-pound turkey.
To reach full grown, tom turkeys are raised for about 18 weeks and hens are full grown at 15 weeks.
The average turkey has 3,500 feathers.
Only tom turkeys “gobble;” hens “click”.
Turkey meat packs more protein and less total fat than similar cuts of chicken and beef.
Turkey is low in cholesterol and trans-fat free.
A frozen turkey can last up to a year in the freezer.” **

Learning even these few facts, we see the utility of turkey farming. Perhaps seeing this potential 80 years ago partially explains the motives of Earl Olson. To add further, Earl was born May 8, 1915 to Swedish immigrants in Murdock, Minnesota, Swift County just before World War I. This would place Earl as a teen who experienced the scarcity of the Great Depression. Could this be a root motive to spark his fire for a cost-effective, healthful, and environmentally responsible source of meat?

Going to the company website, we find a useful outline of some of Olson’s history and visions for turkey processing.

“Earl B. Olson, Founder of Jennie-O Foods
Earl B. Olson is considered an icon in the turkey business. His tireless efforts and forward thinking helped propel Jennie-O Turkey Store and the turkey industry to what it is today.
1940: Earl starts raising turkeys while managing a small creamery.
1949: Earl purchased his first turkey processing plant, Farmer’s Produce Company, in Willmar, Minnesota.
1950: Dairy and other poultry products are phased out to focus solely on turkey.
1953: Earl converts Farmer’s Produce Company to a USDA-inspected turkey plant and names the brand JENNIE-O®—after his daughter, Jennifer.
1954: Farmer’s Produce Company purchases a second plant and seeks international distribution. A third plant is purchased in 1966.
1963: Earl’s son, Charles, joins the sales staff and becomes president in 1974.
1971: Farmer’s Produce Company changes name to Jennie-O Foods, Inc.
1973: The Willmar Avenue plant and corporate office are built to accommodate expanding processing capabilities.
1984: Jennie-O Foods, Inc. is among the first to develop the turkey hot dog, using a top-secret seasoning recipe and a custom-built, continuous oven stretching 100-feet long.
1986: Jennie-O Foods, Inc. is purchased by Hormel Foods Corporation.” ***

How does one give gratitude for our national symbol of Thanksgiving, Lord? Will You come, Holy Spirit, and lead us to ponder Mr. Olson’s contributions to Minnesota? Will You help us think about Your contributions to us through the members of the turkey family: Beltsville Small White, Bourbon Red, Jersey Buff, Narragansett, Royal Palm, Slate, Standard Bronze White Holland, Broad-Breasted Whites, and Heritage (Wild) Turkeys?

As You say, “the first deal be last, and the last first”, and so we start by remembering what gifts have been given to this continent through Meleaagris gallopavo a.k.a. Wild Turkeys. We thank You that they were an important food source for the Ojibwe and Dakota Nations for hundreds of years in Mni Sota (Minnesota). **** We remember that because turkeys were indigenous to North America, Spaniards, the French, and the English all fared better. ***** Thank You for giving us the “big brother” of the grouse to hunt for all these years! We remember that You made the marvelous wild turkey that could fly fast, run swiftly, and be positioned here for our survival!

Also, we recollect the bounty of the birds that went back to Europe and returned over time as our present-day domesticated breeds of turkey! We thank You that Mr. Olson saw the incredible utility of farm-raised turkeys! That he grew his business with a conscience that respected You, the land, the farmer, and the animal.******

Maybe this conscientiousness is why You chose him to oversee the increase of our State’s turkey production; we went from an insignificant source in 1949 to 42 million birds in 2019. ******* We thank You as a people for his stewardship of turkey’s! We ask Your blessing on every Minnesota turkey whether: Tom (male adult), Hen (female adult), Poult (baby), Jake (young male), or Jenny (young female)! We ask Your blessing on every turkey farmer past, present, and future! Will You give us grace and knowledge, like Earl B. Olson, to have such incredible focus on our life’s work, and cultivate a healthy culture across all forms of life raised in Minnesota?

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** https://minnesotaturkey.com/turkeys/fun-facts/#toggle-id-1
*** https://www.jennieo.com/content/our_history
**** https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/wild-turkeys-in-canada
***** https://blog.nwf.org/2012/11/lets-talk-turkey-history-of-wild-icon-in-america/
****** Obituary. Internet. December 13, 2006. StarTribune, Mpls.,MN. http://www.startribune.com/obituaries/detail/9061815/
******* https://www.ers.usda.gov/newsroom/trending-topics/turkey-sector-background-statistics/

Standard
20th Century, Americana, History, jazz, Minnesota, music, Uncategorized

WCCO Noon Hi-Lites 1933

503_wcco_transmitter_site_old_car_2

Minnesota.cbslocal.com

1933

“Piano player Norvy Mulligan, announcer Doug Baldwin, Cowboy Jim, and the WCCO Noon Hi-Lites are a midday hit on Minnesota radio.” *

In this era, WCCO became a famous local radio station owned by Washburn Crosby Company.  Initially, the radio station was a tool to promote Betty Crocker, (a fictitious personification of their company),  who in turn sold their fine flour and other baking products. The Noon Highlights show had six half-hour shows a week, and were sponsored by the Hormel meat company.**

Thankfully, these giants of the food industry acquired the talents of announcer Doug Baldwin, who recognized the considerable talents of a local jazz great; Norvy Mulligan.

In the 1920’s, Minnesotans favored the sounds of Dixieland, but Mulligan sought to move the needle forward. 

Local music aficionados compared Norvy to the iconic ragtime and jazz piano stylings of Fats Waller. More specifically, he played the same type of left-hand tenths with his thumb. He also favored playing the melody with his right hand while inventing a counter-melody with his left.** Consequently, the combination of a quality music, a solid announcer, and a cast of fun personalities made for interesting and memorable radio that impacted the Midwest and regions of Canada! 

We remember the Noon highlights with You today Lord. We are grateful that You masterfully lined up these creative forces for our enjoyment and benefit! You are the maestro of causes and effects, and condoned the unorthodox combination of: baking, meat-packing, cowboys, housewives, and jazz. 

Will You bless WCCO and its inheritance and legacy in Minnesota? Will You inspire our musicians to go further out like Norvy Mulligan? We bless the impact of radio on our state, and its ability to give the previously unknown joys of connection to our peoples!

We ask for Your imagination in our present forms of communication. Illuminate us to cross-pollinate our imaginations, and shirk selfish boredom. Give us an open hand with our talents and inventions, our businesses and pleasures. Move us to accentuate the highlights of life, and remember the good we know today! Amen.

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

** Goetting, Jay. “Joined at the Hip: A History of Jazz in the Twin Cities”

 

 

Standard
20th Century, Business, Food, History, Judgment & Counter-Judgment Cycle, omnipresent history, Unions

First Sit-Down Strike in U.S.

history-1926-george-jay.1498491076

hormelfoods.com

1933

“Workers at George A. Hormel and Company stage the first sit-down strike in the U.S., taking over the Austin meat-packing plant for three days. The tactic works; Hormel agrees to submit wage demands to binding arbitration. The success of this strike re-invigorates the labor movement, which had been in decline through the 1920s.” *

To offer a backstory, we must look at the character and practices of a father and son. George A. Hormel founded the company in 1891, and survived the Panic of the 1893-1897 by setting the standards for success himself. “People talked of Hormel’s passion for efficiency and quality and of his eagerness to work in the plant beside his employees.” Hormel often insisted on doing the key butchering operations himself.**

Jay Hormel was the only son, actually the only child of the G.A. Hormels’. He had an excellent education at Shattuck School for Boys and Princeton University. After schooling he pursued a career as a jazz pianist with some modicum of success. 

Though trained by his father through two years of work at the plant, perhaps he did not retain the personal identity with the town of Austin, his staff, or the business. He married a foreigner, and moved his family out of Austin to a large French style estate. 

Fast forward to the landmark strike. A group of workers at the hog killing floor were unsuccessfully persuaded to join the “voluntary” insurance program being pushed by management. At issue were the further loss of wages, 20 cents per week, and the expectation that those who didn’t join could be fired. The incensed workers shut down the killing floor for only 10 minutes, yet their exasperations had a ripple effect.

In response, hundreds of employees joined the newly formed International Union of All Workers (IUAW), and contributed $600 to achieve its aims. These are out lined below:

“1. An increase in the hourly rate for all workers who are members of the union of 20 cents an hour over and above the rate of November 1, 1933.

2. An increase in pay for those workers on a scale other than the hourly rates so they might receive an increase in pay equal to those on the hourly basis.

3. The abolition of the bonus system and the rate of those affected by the abolition be set by an hourly rate plus a bonus.

4. That when females replace males in the plant, the rate of compensation be the same as that paid to the male workers.

5. An agreement whereby either company or union may present each other with formal requests in writing, the receiving party acknowledging receipt of the request and arranging provisions for a conference within 24 hours of receiving it.” **

The occupation of the plant pushed Hormel into reaching out to both FDR and Governor Floyd Olson for help. Neither of these politicians were in the mood to enact a strike bust, but rather approaching the issue as mediators. Ultimately Governor Olson, without security, calmed the situation and led to the writing of an agreed plan between workers and management. 

Hormel’s attitude towards his employees did a complete u-turn. Instead of seeing workers as his opponents, he saw them as his team. His “Master Plan” was putting out fires before they start; a system of anticipatory welfare capitalism. This plan gained acceptance and trust of laborers so throughly that it pre-empted the necessity of union actions in most cases. When asked by other business men how to deal with labor, Jay Hormel replied; “labor troubles would not occur if business could understand labor.” **

Shall we pray? We give thanks to You, Lord of All Workers, because You truly understand the backstory of everyone who works. We thank You for Your intimate knowledge of each human’s psyche, work ethic, and motives. Will You enhance our watching of this event in history, and bring revelation to Your people everywhere?

Initially we see an example of a father and son, and their differing approaches to the same task of owning and managing a business. We thank you for the leadership style of George Hormel who: lived locally, married a girl from town, and was an active participant in all stages of his company. Will You bless Him, the Hormel family, and those like him in Minnesota’s food processing businesses? It is hard to fault one who leads by practical example. 

We also thank You for the leadership style of Jay Hormel who: thought outside his own town, loved music, and married outside his culture. We thank You that though he originally was known for his weakness to relate to his labor, he discovered that he could change. We give thanks that he was humble enough to learn from his failures in this strike, and grow as a businessman and human being. Will You bless his family and companions in the food trade, both past, present, and future?

We give thanks for the workers and strikers of this event. We recognize their pains and fears in this era. Will You remember those tasks that were done at an immediate and personal loss to them? Will You remember the days and years where they did not complain though they were increasingly chafed at the increase of employer demands with lack of job security? Will You remember how they were faithful to Hormel, and forgive the ways they weren’t? Will You bless them, their families, and generations in their labor to “do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men”? ***

We remember the insufficient nature of the “isms” at play in this event. Will You temper our collectivists to remember the individuals in their ranks? Will You protect our unions from judgments that can chain them to a permanent state of envy? Will You give the capitalist the humility to see that money doesn’t solve the problems of workers hearts and needs for respect? Have mercy on our business. Have mercy on our strikes. May we receive Your contentment whether on the killing floor on making a killing? Amen.

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

** Conatz, Juan (2014, July 21)https://libcom.org/history/we-were-poor-people-hormel-strike-1933-larry-d-engelmann

*** Colossians 3:23

 

 

Standard
19th Century, farming, Food, Food Science, Industry, Intercession, Judgment & Counter-Judgment Cycle, Minnesota, omnipresent history

Hormel Company Opens 1891

george-cip-quote-425

1891

“George A. Hormel, an ambitious entrepreneur and the son of German immigrants, established today’s Hormel Foods Corporation in 1891 as Geo. A. Hormel & Co., in Austin, Minnesota.

George Hormel opened the Hormel meat-packing company at the right time. As corn replaced wheat in some southern Minnesota fields, it created an abundance of hog feed and, as a result, a boom in hog farming and meat packing. 

By 1920, Hormel beat out the south Saint Paul stockyards to lead the state’s meat-packing industry. In the year 2000, only two other states raised and marketed more pork.” * 

Lord, thank You for George Hormel, and his business to make food available and more affordable to more people. Bless his heritage, those who worked with him, competed with him, and the places that they worked. Will You bless the animals, past, present, and future of Minnesota? Will You bless the farms and farmers who raise any animal that is used for food? Will You bless the packers, and all who work in the meat-packing industry?

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

 

 

Standard