Kraft is one of those brand that you’ve known since you were a kid. American cheese, Kraft Mac, and Oscar Mayer lunch meat are all familiar tastes and likely still hold a soft spot in your heart. But as much as you love this pillar of American food, do you know what made this brand such an icon at the dinner table? Who is Kraft? Did you know their trademark cheese is proudly fake? Did Kraft seriously used to sell batteries?
Here are 10 surprising things about Kraft because, like everything you love, you should know a little bit about what makes it so special.
1. In 1903, James L. Kraft, with a rented horse-drawn wagon and $65 in capital, began a wholesale cheese business in Chicago. Eventually three of his brothers joined the company and in 1909, they incorporated as J.L. Kraft Bros. & Company.
2. Kraft began manufacturing its own cheese in 1914 and in the ensuing decades began to acquire big-name brands like Nabisco, Philadelphia cream cheese, and Digiorno.
3. Kraft Corporation is no longer just the cheese. In fact, many things that come onto your dinner table are owned by this conglomerate. Among the businesses that Kraft owns are:
- Heinz ketchup
- Maxwell House
- Oscar Mayer
- Shake N’ Bake
- Weight Watchers
- Capri Sun
4. Some of Kraft’s brands have been around since before even Kraft itself. Actually, nineteen of Kraft’s brands are over 100 years old! Dating back to 1777, Grey Poupon Dijon mustard receives the award for the oldest brand that belongs to Kraft.
Besides Grey Poupon, there is Oscar Mayer which was introduced in 1883, Maxwell House which launched in 1892, and Jell-O first that first appeared in 1897.
5. In 1916, James Kraft, who founded the Kraft company, received a patent for making his trademark processed cheese. In his patent he explained that, “This invention relates to an improved process of sterilizing cheese to render it permanently keeping, and to the product thereby produced.”
He proudly touted his product as the future of cheese and successfully built his empire on what we now know as American cheese.
6. Although today everyone knows American cheese comes in individually wrapped singles, when it was first released in 1915, the Kraft company sold its cheese packaged in 3 1/2- and 7 3/4-ounce tins. It wasn’t until 1965 that the individually wrapped squares came onto the market.
7. Since the introduction of Kraft macaroni & cheese in 1937, there has been a 4000 percent increase in sales. Mysteriously, in 2007 alone, sales increased by 10 percent.
8. To help promote their “Cheddar Explosion” flavor release, Kraft sponsored the demolition of the Texas Stadium in 2010. Through this PR campaign, they provided $75,000 to local charities and donated $75,000 in products.
9. In a 1980 merger with Dart Industries Inc., Kraft acquired the Duracell brand. However, by 1986, Dart & Kraft, Inc. had spun off most of its non-food businesses and changed its name to Kraft, Inc.
Two years later, Kraft, Inc. sold the batteries business to Duracell Holdings Corp., an affiliate of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., and became an all-food company for the first time in more than three decades.
10. It’s no surprise that different products are sold in different countries, but did you know that Kraft has name-brand peanut butter?
That’s right, in Canada, the company sells a line of Kraft peanut butter with flavors like chocolate, honey, banana granola peanut, and cinnamon granola.
11. The company is not only a business for profit. Since 1997, Kraft has partnered heavily with Feeding America to provide more than 1 billion servings of food to those in need.
At their headquarters in Chicago, the company’s employees also help maintain a garden to provide fresh produce for local food pantries and Women, Infants, and Children centers.