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Bits and Pieces: Wooster’s pickle producer |

Bits and Pieces: Wooster’s pickle producer

I used to love Buckeye brand sweet pickles. Sadly, they’re not on grocery store shelves anymore. That’s because the Wooster Preserving Co. closed its doors years ago.


The company was started by farmers back in 1897 and was incorporated in 1908. F.A. Warner became president a few years later.

The company required between 75,000-100,000 bushels of cucumbers annually, so they’d contract with farmers for cucumber acreage at a guaranteed price. During July, August and September fresh cucumbers came rolling into the company’s plant on Spruce Street by trucks, trailers and automobiles … and in the early days by horse-drawn wagons. Also, during those months large refrigerated trucks hauled fresh cucumbers in from Michigan.

The cucumbers would then be sorted by machine into four sizes and placed in 800- to 1,000-bushel wood tanks to cure in various degrees of salt brine for nine months to one year … under careful daily testing and inspection.

Pickles and preserves

Each of the 30 sizes was hand-sorted and hand-packed in the different size glass jars and labeled under the company’s registered brands — “Buckeye” and “Try Me” — as sweet pickles, midgets, sweet disc, candied sweet dill strips, fancy sweet mixed, sweet relish, dill disc, sweet cauliflower, sweet onions, sour pickles, genuine dills, kosher style dills, etc. The company’s pure fruit preserves and jellies were packed under their “Wooster Fancy” label.

In the early days only three kinds of pickles were made — sour, dill and sweet. These were packed and sold mostly in wood barrels. The grocer would sell them directly to the customer as he did crackers, sugar, salt, spices and potatoes.

In addition to 35-50 full-time employees, the company regularly employed seasonal help.

Wooster Preserving Co. was sold to the J.M. Smucker Co. in 1964. The Orrville company operated it for a short time before closing it down.

White House china

At its peak of production, Wooster’s short-lived Coxon Beleek China Co. employed about 75 workers and operated two large kilns and several smaller ones.

On Jan. 11, 1929, The Daily Record ran the headline “Wooster-made China to Adorn White House Tables.” The paper reported that a dinnerware service for 24 had been sent to President and Mrs. Herbert Hoover. The pieces were decorated in platinum rather than the usual gold.

But the china company soon folded — a victim of the Great Depression and poor financial management.

FYI

At one time, the Toy-Kraft Co. was Wooster’s biggest industry.

Thought you should know.

Columnist Ann Gasbarre can be reached at agasbarre@gmail.com or 330-345-6419.

Category: Dinnerware  Tags: ,  Comments off
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