In 1897, after the Illinois legislature authorized gas company mergers, Peoples Gas merged with seven other firms. By this time, the company was a leading seller of gas stoves: it sold over 20,000 stoves to Chicago customers in 1898 alone.
|Peoples Gas Light & Coke Company Building under construction from the steps of the Art Institute, Chicago, (1910). [The building on the left is the Pullman Company headquarters.]|
A critical shift in the company's operations occurred at the end of the 1920s, when it invested in long pipelines that connected Chicago to natural gas fields in Texas. By 1950, People's Gas had annual sales of over $80 million and employed over 4,500 people. The company changed its name to Peoples Gas Co. in 1968; 12 years later, it became part of Peoples Energy Corp. This entity controlled both Peoples Gas and the North Shore Gas Co., which operated in northeastern Illinois. By the early 2000s, Peoples Energy grossed more than $2 billion and had employed over 3,000 workers in the Chicago area.
Peoples Gas Light & Coke Company specially equipped vehicles (more than one) called "Kitchens on Wheels" provided free gas-cooking demonstrations throughout Chicagoland with the goal of introducing people to gas appliances. Advertisements trumpeted that these white-and-gold painted trucks, which visited parks, playgrounds, settlement houses, and other public places, were available to organized groups on request.
The Home Service Department routinely sent recipe cards in gas bills to increase women's interest in cooking, and within two years published "Mrs. Peterson's Simplified Cooking," which 'basic or standard' recipes for a wide range of dishes were included in this book.
|A typical neighborhood gas cooking demonstration.|
Mrs. Anna J. Peterson was the head of the Home Service Department for Peoples Gas Light & Coke Company of Chicago. She was a cooking teacher and the author of "Mrs. Peterson's Simplified Cooking." Peoples Gas published many editions.
|From my personal collection.|
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.