Quaker Oats Company

From Ohio History Central

Although the corporate offices for the Quaker Oats Company are now located in Chicago, the company’s roots are in Akron, Ohio. Ferdinand Schumacher, a pioneer miller born in Hanover, Germany, in 1822, used medieval period milling techniques to manufacture oatmeal on a mass scale. Also referred to as the “Oatmeal King,” Schumacher introduced oatmeal to American households as a viable meat substitute that was inexpensive, filling, and nutritious. Schumacher’s largest mill, the so-called Jumbo mill in Akron, sold 360,000 pounds of oatmeal each day, and his recipe for breakfast oatmeal was included in the first cookbook to contain recipes for oatmeal in 1873. Although Schumacher was the most prominent oatmeal producer in the market, several smaller yet prosperous mills cropped up throughout Ohio and the Midwest. In Ravenna, Ohio, Henry Parsons Crowell managed a water-powered milling company called Quaker Oats, where he oversaw all processes included in manufacturing oatmeal, from grading and cleaning to packaging and shipping. Stamped with the iconic Quaker mascot, Crowell’s Quaker Oats was the first registered trademark for a cereal brand. Robert Stuart, another well-known oatmeal producer, had a prosperous oatmeal operation in Chicago with his father. Even though Crowell and Stuart were successful oatmeal manufacturers, their success couldn’t touch the production and popularity of Schumacher’s products. However, when a fire destroyed his Jumbo mill in 1886, uninsured Schumacher lost everything he had worked for. Schumacher joined The Oatmeal Millers Association, but regained his wealth and influence as president of the American Cereal Company, a consolidation of the seven largest oatmeal mills in the country. In 1901, the Quaker Oats Company was formed by the consolidation of Schumacher’s German Mills American Oatmeal Company, Crowell’s Quaker Oats Company in Ravenna, Stuart’s mill in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and the Rob Lewis & Co. American Oats and Barley Oatmeal Corporation. Over the decades of its success, Quaker Oats has produced a variety of breakfast and grain-based products, such as the Chewy granola bars, and ventured into uncharted territory, such as financing the 1970s film classic Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and forming US Games in 1982, which created video games for the Atari game system, although the company went out of business in 1983. In 2001, Quaker Oats was bought out by PepsiCo, as the beverage company was enticed by Quaker Oats' ownership of Gatorade, which Quaker Oats purchased in 1983.

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