Vintage Brands That Have Been Around for a Long Time
Southerners like a good heritage brand which has been making products for years, honing their craft for decades or even centuries. A product that has been in production for over 200 years may be in your refrigerator or on your pantry shelves right now and you don’t even know it.
According to World Atlas, the oldest continually-operating company in the world is Kongo Gumi, a Japanese construction company that dates all the way back to 578 AD. While the United States wouldn’t even exist for nearly a thousand years after Kongo Gumi was founded, there are some remarkably old companies operating in the U.S.
Here are nine companies that may be older than you ever knew:
For nearly 300 years, Caswell-Massey has been making beautiful soaps and toiletries. Founded in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1752, the shop was one of the still-young country’s original perfume makers and apothecaries. Their triple-milled soaps have been helping bathrooms look neat and keeping hands clean ever since.
Baker’s Chocolate, 1765
If you’ve ever whipped up a German chocolate cake, there’s a good chance you used Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate, which is what gave the cake its name. The company has been making its sweet (and unsweet) chocolate since 1765 when Dr. James Baker bank rolled a chocolate company putting the chocolate-making skills of Irish immigrant John Hannon to good use. The company is now owned by Kraft, but the Baker’s brand name is still on the box.
Crane and Co., 1770
The company that makes the classic stationery for thank-you notes—and U.S. currency, stocks, and bonds— can trace its history back to 1770 when Stephen Crane opened a company turning out 100% cotton paper. Crane’s son, Zenas, expanded the company in 1799 with a new mill and it has been going strong ever since.
King Arthur Flour, 1790
Dixon Ticonderoga, 1795
Your favorite No. 2 pencils can trace their history back to the American Revolution. The company’s famous pencils were devised by Joseph Dixon, who started experimenting with graphite. According to the company’s website, he baked the graphite in his mother’s oven before pressing it into cedar strips to create the first Dixon pencil. While the company was making pencils since the 1800s, it wasn’t until 1913 that the classic No. 2 pencil was added to their product line.
Jim Beam, 1795
As the company’s website says, Jim Beam existed before the state of Kentucky did. Farmer Jacob Beam had some excess corn on his farm in what at the time was the Kentucky corner of Virginia. He decided to make good use of it by adding the corn to his father's whiskey recipe distilling a new kind of whiskey-bourbon. Soon enough, a legend was born.
The toothpaste sitting in your medicine cabinet may be older than you think. William Colgate founded his namesake soap and candle company in New York City in 1806, according to the company. Its now-famous toothpaste was first introduced to customers as "Colgate aromatic toothpaste in jars" in 1873. In 1928, Colgate merged with soap company Palmolive, to create the Colgate-Palmolive company still operating today.
Tabasco has been spicing up meals since just after the Civil War. Edmund McIlhenny developed the recipe for the classic hot sauce on Avery Island, Louisiana, and started bottling the sauce and shipping it across the South, the country, and eventually the world. Fast forward to today and the McIlhenny Company makes their now-famous sauce in exactly the same way and in exactly the same place, because there’s no need to improve on perfection.
Grape Nuts, 1897
Before he was a cereal magnate, C.W. Post was a guest at John Harvey Kellogg’s health spa in Michigan. There he tried a new breakfast cereal called granola. According to The New York Times, he was inspired to create a cereal of his own, which he called Grape-Nuts, despite the fact that it contained neither grapes nor nuts. The cereal quickly became a favorite choice for health conscious consumers and still is today.