Indianapolis can get quite hot in the summer – hot enough to fry bacon on a sidewalk.
For obvious reasons, meat packaging was limited to the winter months in the days following the Civil War.
In 1868, George Stockman, an engineer at Kingan & Co., developed the mechanical refrigeration that enabled Kingan to be the world’s first year-round meat packer. Stockman later started his own company and installed cooling in the Maus Brewery in Indianapolis, which was the first brewery in the United States to have mechanical cooling.
By 1914, Kingan & Co. was the first to sell bacon sliced and in one-pound boxes under the name Kingan’s Reliable. With food safety, storage, and production standards beginning in the 20th century, consumers wanted to know they could trust their meat. Kingan attributed his “superior kindness” to “corn-fed pigs that were slowly smoked with hardwoods, rigorously US-tested and monitored by our experts, and wrapped in parchment paper and boxed in a sturdy cardboard box to preserve the flavor.”
Kingan’s operation spanned nearly 30 acres along both sides of the White River, south of Washington Street.
In 1953 Hygrade Corp. bought Kingan and ceased operations in 1966. A year later the building went up in flames.
• In 1928, a bakery in Chillicothe, Missouri, was the first to sell pre-cut bread with an automatic bread slicer. One advertisement called it “the greatest advancement in the baking industry since bread packaging”.
The sentence didn’t really roll off the tongue, so it ended up being “the greatest thing since sliced bread”.
Here we come to the Indianapolis part:
Elmer Cline, a senior executive at Taggart Baking Co. in Indianapolis, was asked to name a new bread. Cline was inspired by the “wonder” of color and spectacle of the International Balloon Race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Taggart’s Wonder Bread was the first commercial manufacturer of prepackaged, precut bread. There was a dispute between Pittsburgh’s Seven Baker Brothers claiming the Wonder name, but Continental bought the rights when Seven Brothers went out of business in 1930.
In December 1924, Taggart was bought by Continental Baking Co., making Wonder a national brand. Continental was founded in 1995 by Interstate Brands Corp. taken over and later known as Hostess Brands.
In 2012, Hostess Brands filed for bankruptcy and ceased production of Wonder Bread. In January 2013, Flowers Foods acquired Hostess’ bread brands, including Wonder Bread. Nine months later, Wonder Bread returned to the shelves and into making bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches.
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