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The official company website:  Pillsbury

Holiday Baking:  For the best holiday baking, many cooks still turn to an old favorite: Pillsbury's Best 1000 Recipes: Best of the Bake-Off Collection.  A hardcover book published in 1959, it featured the best recipes from the Pillsbury Bake-Off contests, which had by that time been going strong for ten years.  It's a popular and elusive out-of-print cookbook, but worth the hunt.


The following is an excerpt from the book Ideas that Became Big Business by Clinton Woods. Published by Founders, Inc. Baltimore, MD, 1959, 414 pages.

Buy this book: Ideas That Became Big Business

The Pillsbury Story

The history of the Pillsbury Company is a history of individuals throughout the years pioneering new ways of doing things, better ways of doing things, and introducing new products.

"John Sargent Pillsbury was a pioneering individual. Back in 1853 he moved west from New England looking for places start new businesses. He stopped at a struggling settlement of 1,500 people near the cascading power of St. Anthony Falls (later to become Minneapolis) on the Mississippi River. With water power available he saw immediately the possibilities for mills; not only lumber mills but flours mills as well. He decided to stay and within a few years had become a prominent member of the community, widely known throughout Minnesota as a public spirited citizen and successful businessman.

The Pillsbury's entrance into flour milling began in 1869 when three Pillsburys--John S., Charles Alfred, and George A. jointly bought a one-third interest in a broken-down 250 barrel-a-day flour mill in Minneapolis. The townsmen though their $10,000 investment a shaky one.

By 1872 the Pillsburys were sole owners of their flour mill and had begun to enlarge its capacity. They switched from the stone to the roller process, introduced the revolutionary Middlings Purifier and made Pillsbury's Best world famous as a premium flour. In 1881 the Pillsburys completed construction of their Minneapolis "A" mill, a milestone in the milling industry. In 1886 Fred C. Pillsbury introduced bran--at that point a useless byproduct--as an animal feed and gave impetus to a new feed industry.

A major changed occurred in 1889 when an English syndicate bought the company but kept Charles A. Pillsbury, company founder, and his uncle, Minnesota Governor John S. Pillsbury, as managing directors. From 1900 to 1909 the company, then known as Pillsbury-Washburn, Ltd. was operated by absentee management. The interest of home ownership was not there and both product quality and financial returns suffered.

Finally, in 1907 the company was forced into receivership. In September of 1909 the mills were leased back from the British owners and the name changed to Pillsbury Flour Mills. The newly organized operation was headed by A. C. Loring, a great merchant miller, and young, second generation Pillsburys: the late A. F. Pillsbury, John S. Pillsbury (now honorary chairman, board of directors) and his twin brother, the late Charles S. Pillsbury.

By 1923 the Minneapolis milling men had pulled the old company out of the hole and were able to buy back complete control and all the real properties of Pillsbury-Washburn from English investors. American control in the Pillsbury tradition of quality was re-established. By 1930 Pillsbury flour mills began to dot the country in Atchison, Kansas; Buffalo, N.Y.; Enid, Okla.; Astoria, Oregon and Springfield, Ill.

In 1940 Philip W. Pillsbury, current chairman of the board, was elected president and began the modern era of Pillsbury expansion, product research and diversification.

Globe Mills was acquired to step up West Coast operations. Feed and soy plants were established at two Iowa points.

In the company's 75th anniversary year "Ann Pillsbury" was created to extend the company's concept of service to home makers through the facilities of a Home Service Center. The Ann Pillsbury Home Service Center now occupies the entire 13th floor of the Pillsbury Building in Minneapolis. More expansion followed: a feed mill at Lima, Ohio, a number of grain storage elevators and additional research and development laboratories in Minneapolis.

Since World War II the Pillsbury family of foods has been rapidly growing to include a variety of bakery, institutional and consumer baking mixes. Expansion of facilities at Springfield in 1949 gave Pillsbury the most modern bakery and institutional mix plant in the world.

In 1948 Pillsbury introduced a new word--"Bake-Off"--to the language by launching its famous annual Grand National Baking and Recipe Contest, designed to select the 100 best American recipes each year. The Bake-Off is the core of a recipe service to homemakers which is unequaled anywhere.

In 1951 Pillsbury increased its flour milling and formula feed processing distribution in the Southeastern U.S. with the purchase of Ballard & Ballard Company at Louisville, Kentucky. This acquisition also launched Pillsbury in the refrigerated food products business. The original Ballard line of biscuits now includes four kinds of Pillsbury and Ballard biscuits as well as a line of refrigerated cookies and specialty rolls.

The company increased its mix manufacturing facilities in 1952 with the purchase of the American Home Foods plant at Hamilton, Ohio. In the same year, two modern flour mills were acquired at Calgary, Alberta; and Midland, Ontario. Grain storage facilities were greatly expanded at Buffalo, N.Y. by purchase of the Buffalo Pool elevator on Lake Erie.

With the growth of its refrigerated food sales Pillsbury expanded production with new plants at Los Angeles, Calif. and Downington, Penn., late in 1953 bringing the number of these plants to five. Pillsbury's next move was a cake mix plant built at London, Ontario in 1954 to satisfy the growing Canadian consumer market. The feed division leased a modern push button feed plant that year at Gainesville, Georgia. Other production facilities new since 1954 include a refrigerated products plant at East Greenville, Pa., a refrigerated plan and research laboratories under construction at New Albany, Indiana, a combined baking mix and refrigerated product plant at Midland, Ontario, feed division facilities leased at Reedley ad Modesto, Calif., construction started on a modern feed plant in Jasper, Alabama.

In 1957 the company announced the first major break-through in flour milling technology since the introduction of the steel roller and purifiers in the 1870's. The new process, referred to as Turbo Milling uses an unusual application of the air-vortex principle to create man-made hurricanes in which flour particles are reduced and separated. Using this process, Pillsbury ahs been able to produce entirely new kinds of flours, differing chemically and physically from any flours produced by conventional milling methods.

Pillsbury today is the world's second largest flour milling company. The company's stockholders now number more than 12,000. Pillsbury is the world's largest exporter of flour, manufactures bakery flour and mixes, refrigerated food products, is a major factor in grain and feed ingredients merchandising and the manufacture of animal formula feeds."

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." - Virginia Woolf

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