Saturday, April 22, 2023

Wilson & Company at the 1933/34 Chicago's Century of Progress World's Fair.

The Wilson & Company Certified Bacon Slicing Exhibit continuously sliced and packed 8,000 pounds of Bacon daily from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm in this beautiful modern exhibit at the 1933/34 Chicago Century of Progress World's Fair.
The 1933-34 Chicago Worlds Fair Wilson Exhibit Building.

Wilson & Co. extends a cordial invitation to all its customers and friends to see the Wilson  & Co. Exhibit Building on Northerly Island, in the heart of the Midway at A Century of Progress.
The Wilson & Co. Certified Bacon Slicing Exhibit is slicing and packing continuously from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm in this beautiful modern exhibit at the 1933/34 Chicago World's Fair, A Century of Progress.

Unique in the history of the Meat Packing Industry, a complete Bacon Slicing Room is in continuous operation in this beautifully designed building. Lovely girls in trim uniforms slice and pack 8,000 pounds of Certified Bacon daily under the same sanitary conditions found in all Wilson & Co. plants. During the 329 days the fair was open in 1933/34, 2,632,000 pounds of Bacon was sliced.

The picture above represents the Wilson deluxe Certified Sliced Bacon room in full operation on the first floor of our Exhibit Building. The giant slicer cuts 400 slices each and every minute. Girls are packing these slices of Certified Bacon with chrome tongs. No human hand touches Certified Bacon until it reaches the homes of consumers.

This room is glass enclosed and kept at a uniform temperature of 55° F. The same degree of efficiency and cleanliness is maintained in this Certified Bacon Slicing Room as is in effect in every one of Wilson & Co. plants in the United States. Wilson's Certified Sliced Bacon is Wilson Selected, Government Inspected, and Quality Controlled. It is the finest Bacon that science can produce. Millions of housewives take great pride in serving Wilson's Certified Bacon at their tables, and dealers everywhere are as proud to handle a product of exceptional quality and goodness.

Arranged around the Certified Bacon Slicing Room corridors are the interesting and instructive exhibits of all Wilson & Co. by-products, from soap to sporting goods and hair insulation.

The Wilson Terrace Restaurant and Roof Garden Restaurant are found on the second and third floors, where wholesome, satisfying plate lunches or steaks can be had at moderate prices.
The Wilson Terrace and Roof Garden Restaurants, Partial Menu.
$1.25 in 1933 Equals $29.00 in 2023.

Wilson & Co. had 10 Food Stands and the Wilson & Co. Stables at the World's Fair.
True lovers of horses will delight in the beauty of this prize-winning six-horse Clydesdale team. They participate in the "Wings of a Century" Pageant daily and are also on exhibition in their own Wilson & Co. stables on the fairgrounds.

History of Wilson & Company, 4100 South Ashland Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
Wilson & Co. evolved over the years to adapt to a changing market and changing leadership. The business began in 1916 when founder Thomas Edward Wilson took control of the Chicago meat packinghouse Sulzberger & Sons Co. and rebranded it as Wilson & Company. 

By 1917, the Company ranked as one of the 50 largest industrial corporations in the United States and continued to employ thousands of workers at its plant in Chicago until the 1950s.

From its inception, Wilson & Co. has been noted for its progressive policies and efficient methods of operation. It has built an enviable reputation for efficiency of service, integrity, and high business ideals, and the same cardinal company characteristics have been instilled into all of its thousands of employees. 

Wilson & Co. held several subsidiaries that utilized animal by-products to manufacture sporting goods, pharmaceuticals, and industrial chemicals. Ashland Manufacturing ─ a subsidiary of Sulzberger & Sons Co. established in 1913 ─ manufactured athletic gear under the Thomas E. Wilson brand and became Wilson Sporting Goods in 1931.

The Company's headquarters are in Chicago, with other plants and branch houses throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. In 1916, Mr. Wilson founded the Company, heading it until 1934, when his son, Edward F. Wilson, succeeded him. The elder, Mr. Wilson, was then elected chairman of the Board.
Wilson & Co. full-page advertisement for "Wilson's Certified Brand Catsup and Chili Sauce," 1918.

Wilson's meat-packing plants are located in Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, New York City, Albert Lea, Minnesota, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Nebraska City, Nebraska. Wilson & Co.'s Butter and Cheese factories are located at Abilene, Lubbock and Amarillo, Texas; Wichita, Kansas, Altus, Oklahoma City, Blackwell and McAlester, Oklahoma; Ottumwa, Cedar Rapids, Eagle Grove and Reinbeck, Iowa; Dixon and Lanark, Illinois.

The Company has upwards of 90 branch houses in the United States, in addition to the plants as mentioned above, and has branches, subsidiaries and agents in the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, as well as at other points in Continental Europe, Mediterranean Countries, South America, Central America, the West Indies, Mexico, Canada and Newfoundland, China, the Canary Islands, Singapore, Bangkok, Siam, Manila, and Batavia. There are approximately 25,000 persons employed by the Company, of which upwards of 1,000 are salesmen.

Mr. Thomas E. Wilson is a notably outstanding figure in the meat packing industry. In addition to making many valuable and constructive contributions to the industry, he was the founder of the Institute of American Meat Packers and its first president.

Timeline of Wilson & Company
March 22, 1916 - Thomas Edward Wilson is named President of the Chicago meatpacking firm Sulzberger & Sons Co. after banks force a change of management. Sulzberger & Sons had been accused of German sympathies when a shipment of meat was intercepted by a British blockade.

July 21, 1916 - Sulzberger & Sons Co. is renamed Wilson & Co.

Ashland Manufacturing – a subsidiary manufacturing athletic gear – is renamed Thomas E. Wilson & Co.

1917 - Wilson & Co. ranked as one of the 50 largest industrial corporations in the United States.

1927 - Thomas E. Wilson’s son, Edward Foss Wilson, enters the family business, starting in the stockyards.

1931 - Edward Foss Wilson named Vice President of Wilson & Co.

Subsidiary Thomas E. Wilson & Co. is renamed Wilson Sporting Goods.

1933/34 Wilson & Co. shows at the Chicago Century of Progress World's Fair. 

February 27, 1934 - Edward Foss Wilson is named President of Wilson & Co., and Thomas E. Wilson becomes Chairman of the Board.

1953 - Edward Foss Wilson becomes Chairman of the Board of Wilson & Co.

January 5, 1967 - Wilson & Co. is acquired by Ling-Temco-Vought, Inc., and its headquarters are transferred from Chicago, Illinois, to Dallas, Texas.

Ling-Temco-Vought reorganizes the company into three publicly-traded divisions: Wilson & Co. Inc. (meat), Wilson Sporting Goods Co., and Wilson Pharmaceutical & Chemical Corp.

1969 - Wilson Pharmaceutical & Chemical sold to American Can.

1970 - Wilson Sporting Goods is acquired by PepsiCo.

1976 - Wilson & Co. is renamed Wilson Foods Corporation.

1981 - LTV Corporation (Ling-Temco-Vought) divests itself of Wilson Foods.

1988 - Wilson Foods is acquired by Doskocil Companies, Inc.

1989 - Amer Group of Finland (later Amer Sports Oyi) acquires Wilson Sporting Goods.

1990 - Doskocil files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and sells off Wilson Brands division.

1995 - Doskocil changes its name to Foodbrands America, Inc.

1997 - IBP, Inc. acquires Foodbrands America, Inc. (including Wilson Foods).

2001 - Tyson Foods acquires IBP, Inc. (along with remaining Wilson meat brands).

2018 - A Chinese investor group led by Anta Sports Products acquires a majority stake in Amer Sports Oyj.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

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