October 13, 2008

Shefford Cheese Company

Sometimes a recipe booklet appears in my pile that's advertising a brand I've never heard of and can't find very much information on. Such is the case with Shefford Cheese Recipes (1935, 32 pages).

The first page shows the booklet to be authored by one Alberta Winthrop. Was Alberta a real person? Or was she one of those invented spokespersons who mysteriously head up the Home Economic Departments of some food companies? My research fails to return anything on the mysterious Alberta other than her name on other Shefford Cheese cookbooks.

The title page lists locations for the Shefford Cheese Co., Inc. as Syracuse, N. Y., Green Bay, Wis., Jersey City, N. J. and Dallas, Tex.

Their product line in 1935 included:

  • 1/2 lb. packages of American Cheese, Pimiento Cheese, Olde Yorke Cheese, White American Cheese, Chevelle, Chevelle with Pimiento, and Swiss Cheese

  • Shefford Cheese Spreads in "smart" beverage glasses in these tempting flavors: Pimiento, Pimiento with Olives, Pineapple Cream, Roquefort, Olde Yorke, Limburger, Swiss and Cheese Relish.

  • Shefford Snappy Cheese

  • Shefford Cream Cheese

This recipe features the use of canned soup and Shefford Cream Cheese. Amazing how many years we've been doctoring up canned soups.


1 Shefford Cream Cheese
1 can tomato soup
1 can crab meat
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat tomato soup. Flake crab meat and add. Salt. Break Cream Cheese and add. Stir thoroughly while heating--but do not boil. Serve on fresh toast or in ramekins.

Shefford claims to be the first manufacturer of packaged cheese in America. Whether or not this is actually true, I don't know, as I've noticed many food companies claiming to the first in something when it wasn't necessarily so.

And what was Snappy Cheese exactly? This particular booklet doesn't give much information:

It is prepared in a convenient form which prevents hardening. In using it you simply break it apart with a fork, or spread it for sandwiches. It can easily be molded into fancy shapes for garnishing or cut with a knife into convenient sizes for salads or for pie. SHEFFORD SNAPPY CHEESE melts perfectly in cooking.
I have messed around with this post for over a week now, searching in vain for information about the early history of the company.

The earliest mention of the company that I can find is in an interesting paper (PDF file) from the Ontario Heritage Foundation which mentions that James Lewis Kraft briefly worked for Shefford:

In 1902, his initiative took him to Buffalo where he worked as secretary and treasurer of the Shefford Cheese Company. The following year, Kraft went to Chicago where, with $65 in capital, he rented a horse and wagon and established his own business of buying cheese wholesale and selling it to local grocers.
I did notice that their product line, including the Swankyswig-like cheese glasses, closely resembled that of Kraft brand cheeses. Their Chevelle cheese was similar to Kraft's Velveeta.

This page, addressing some of the history of Chittenango, New York says:

On January 15,1915 the Shefford Cheese factory was finally opened. The Shefford Cheese Co. of Syracuse purchased the Old Stone Mill. The Factory made dairy products, mainly cheese and butter. It helped famers with their income. In February of 1915,there were 60 farmers who brought their milk to the creamery on a daily basis. Farmers of the community were paid about 5,000 dollars monthly.The factory employed the greatest number of people of any business in the village and its business increased.
Connecticut History Online has a nice old photo of a Shefford Snappy Cheese truck taken in 1925.

The company history is scarce until January 1944 when Standard Brands, Inc. announced that the company had acquired all of the outstanding capital stock of Shefford Cheese Company, Inc. of Green Bay, Wis., formerly wholly owned by Kingan Co., Inc. of Indianapolis.

This site mentions that Shefford was dissolved in 1946 by the Fleischmann Company. Fleischmann Co. was one of several companies that merged in 1929 to form Standard Brands.

The year 1946 about the time the colorful magazine advertisements and the Shefford Chef disappeared.

If anyone knows anything about the early history of Shefford Cheese, please enlighten me.


At 2:43 PM CDT, Blogger ~~louise~~ said...

Hi Kathy,
You once again have sparked my curiosity and also gave me two important dates for me to research, UG!

Anyway, a quick look in a 1930 edition of Shefford Cheese recipes by Henriette de Bruin has this to say about the company:
...throughout its history has been affiliated with Kingan & Co. of Indianapolis, Indiana, one of the pioneer American Packing Houses. The name Kingan always has been associated with finest quality products such as Hams, Bacon, and other smoked and fresh meats. Now the Kingan label, too, will identify prepared chicken (packed in glass containers) truly a fine quality product. The Shefford Cheese Company was a pioneer in manufacturing trade marked package cheese. It has maintained excellent quality, always."

Hope this helps a little. I'd LOVE to know what you find...

P.S. I'll be saving this for a future post...

At 5:10 PM CDT, Blogger Kathy said...

Thanks Louise! This is one of the times that I wish all my cookbooks were cataloged and shelved by brand. I'll post if I find anything else.

At 7:22 PM CDT, Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

The Snappy Cheese product line, and the vaguely encouraging description cracks me up! Do you suppose it was cow, sheep or goats cheese? :-)

At 9:44 PM CDT, Blogger Kathy said...

T.W. - Mystery Cheese!

At 9:48 PM CDT, Anonymous MelissaB said...

I found this blog entry because I started entering my grandmother's recipes, neatly typed on 3x5 index cards, and found several references to "Snappy Cheese". One said to use "Old English" cheese, and said it was very hard, and next would use "Snappy Cheese"

At 11:00 PM CDT, Blogger Don said...

My great grandfather started Shefford Cheese in the early 1900's. He died when he was 39 and my great grandmother sold the company to Kingan & Co. The history of the company is scare but I do have some facts if anyone is interested. J.L.Kraft did work for him.

At 11:16 PM CDT, Blogger Don said...

Shefford Cheese was started by my great grandfather in the early
1900's. He died when he was only 39 and my great grandmother sold the company to Kinghan & Co. J.L. Kraft did work for him. I have more information is if anyone is interested.

At 9:05 PM CST, Blogger Antoinette Gelmont said...

Hi Kathy,
I am very impressed with your blog,
it is very interesting and well written.
I am a grad student and am doing a little project about promotional cookbooklets and leaflets, that's how I came across your blog.
The course is about ephemera, and how it is kept and organized in libraries.
It is great that you can share your passion with everyone.

Regards from NYC
Antoinette Gelmont

At 2:07 PM CDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a twin pack of playing cards with buy war bonds on the outside and shefford cheese company green bay wisconsin

At 6:22 PM CDT, Blogger Kathy said...

What a nice advertising collectible! Although I try to confine my collection to the cookbooks, somewhere around here I also have a Velveeta cheese instant camera and an old Kikkoman hand fan.


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