Friday, May 16, 2008

Philip D. Armour Born Today

"It is after business hours, not in them, that men break down. Men must, like Philip Armour, turn the key on business when they leave it, and at once unlock the doors of some wholesome recreation."
Orison Swett Marden; Cheerfulness as a Life Power

Today, I would like to share some recipes with you from an undated vintage promotional cookbook published by Armour and Company. The reason for this is simply because today is the birth date of Philip Danforth Armour. An American industrialist and pioneer in the use of refrigeration and meat canning, Philip Danforth Armour was born May 16, on his family's farm in Stockbridge, New York. Now, I'm not a big fan of canned meat products. As a matter of fact, I can't think of any time I have actually purchased a can of Armour Treet or Spam. I do have to wonder though, what would possess a young man of 19 to walk clear across the United States of America, from New York to California, and back to eventually begin one of the largest meat packing empires in the world?

It is said, GOLD was his inspiration. Blinded by the California gold rush, the New York butcher set out to make his fortune. Not everyone, including Armour, made their fortune mining for gold. Take John Studebaker for instance, he spun his hard earned profits into his family's wagon-making business which eventually became the family's automobile business; Studebaker. Armour had a different angle. Although he didn't like the idea of digging for gold, (to much work) He did like the idea of offering merchandise to the miners. He supplied them with meat carved from hogs and cattle. In then sold it to them at a butcher shop in Placerville, California. He also supplied the miners with digging equipment for their mining expeditions.

California gold-rush history tells of a crude camp of Missourians at Placerville (Hangtown), Calif., where a young fellow, Phillip B. Armour, a butcher, had persuaded the small grocery store's owner to let him operate a meat department in the store. A novelty, but it did bring in business. Armour predicted that some day all stores would have meat departments and that if he could make enough money, he planned to butcher and sell meat wholesale to grocery stores. 

With the money he earned in California, (about $8,000) Philip D. Armour decided to go back to New York. On route to New York, he stopped in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he decided to invest in a meat processing plant and a wholesale grocery business. While in Milwaukee, Armour formed business partnerships with Frederick Miles in the grain business and with John Plankinton in the meatpacking industry. With his brother, Herman, he entered the grain business and built several meat packing plants in the Menomonee River Valley. Together they formed Armour and Company in 1867.

Philip D. Armour, a native of New York State, began to work in the pork-packing business in Milwaukee, where he made a substantial fortune in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. ("Gail Borden, Gilbert C. Van Camp, Philip Armour, and Gustavus Swift all got their start in the food industry by securing government contracts to provide items such as dressed pork and beef, evaporated milk, canned pork and beans, sausage, bologna, and a wide variety of canned fruits and vegetables to Union troops. Not only were their fortunes built on the idea of improving the gastronomic habits of soldiers, but all four companies survive today...source") In 1875, he moved to Chicago to take charge of Armour & Co. (a firm owned by Philip and his brothers), which had started its move to Chicago in 1867. During the late nineteenth century, when Chicago and its Union Stock Yard stood at the center of the meatpacking industry, Armour became a national operation and one of the country's largest businesses. By 1880, with an average of over 1,500 men on the payroll at any given time and as many as 4,000 during the peak season to process $17.5 million worth of meat, Armour was Chicago's leading industrial enterprise and employer. By the late 1880s, Armour slaughtered more than 1.5 million animals each year and reached about $60 million in annual sales. Many of those sales derived from the processing of all the parts of the animal—“everything but the squeal”—making such products as glue, lard, gelatin, and fertilizer. When Philip died in 1901, the company employed about 7,000 Chicago residents and had a total workforce of 50,000 nationwide. source

After the arrival of Philip Armour and other meat packing barons, Chicago developed into a leading market place for the meat packing industrty. Armour’s Chicago meatpacking plants introduced new principles of large-scale organization, as well as refrigeration, to the industry. He encouraged the use of refrigerated cars to bring produce to Northern cities. He is said to have been one of the first to notice the tremendous waste in the slaughtering of hogs and to take advantage of the resale value of waste products. Armour pioneered the use of all parts of the slaughtered animal for commercial purposes. He later expanded his firm's operations to include household products and food processing. He also gained control of private railroad-car lines and banks. His innovative techniques and enormous success helped make Chicago the meat packing capital of the world. (among Armour's marketing ideas was his suggestion that ministers would preach better "If they included more of Armour's sausages in their diet.") In his later years, the wealthy Armour became quite charitable. He contributed to the Armour Mission, established by his brother which had a kindergarten, library, and free medical care. He also founded the Armour Institute of Technology, which later merged with the Lewis Institute to form the Illinois Institute of Technology. Below is a piece of history about Armour & Company from the company website...

Armour and Company was an American meatpacking company founded in Chicago, Illinois in 1867 by Philip Danforth Armour (1832–1901), By 1880, Armour and was Chicago's most important business and helped make the city and its Union Stock Yards the center of the American meatpacking industry. Armour and Company was the first company to produce canned meat and also one of the first to employ an "assembly-line" technique in its factories. In 1948, Armour, which made soap for years as a by-product of the meatpacking process, introduced the first deodorant soap, Dial, which became as strong a seller as its meat products, and eventually the company renamed itself the Armour-Dial Corporation.

Thanks to bottle collector's all over the world, many of Armour's "medicine chest" products are well documented. Here is just one excerpt I discovered while researching this post.

Philip Danford Armour, founded Armour and Company in Chicago, in 1867. It soon became one of the worlds largest food processing and chemical manufacturing companies. Armour Chemical Industries included drugs, soaps, fertilizers and other chemical products. Armour also gained control of several private railroad car lines and banks. In 1892, he donated money to establish the Armour Institute of Technology in Chicago, which in 1940, became the Illinois Institute of Technology, a privately endowed coeducational college. A branch, the Illinois Institute of Technical Research, does scientific research for business, industry and government.
Food processing by-products were the primary source for their medicines. Earlier ones included wine of beef and iron, fluid and extracts of beef, nutritive wine beef peptone, digestive ferments, desiccated thyroids, pituitary body, beef tea and elixir of enzymes. source

I really want to get to the part where I share the recipes with you. I feel it quite necessary to mention a few things I learned while researching this post. The meat packing industry as a whole during the time of Armour, Swift, and others was ridden with serious problems. There are tales of tainted meat being sent to soldiers serving our country, poor working conditions, poverty level wages and atrocities that would probably not make you too interested in the following recipes. Thank goodness, with the help of Upton Sinclair's exposé, The Jungle (1906) and Teddy Roosevelt, the Pure Food and Drug Act was established. (You will find more links below for further details)

"Five thousand people, men and women all working together under practically one roof and all directed by one man! It is men and the system, humanity and the machine, that makes an enormous business like that of the Armours move like clockwork. excellent source

There are quite a few Armour recipe pamphlets in the Chef Louis Szathmary Collection of Culinary Arts. There, I also learned that the chef was Manager of new product development at Armour & Company from 1959 to 1964. I have also provided a few more recipe links below for those who are interested in Armour Treet or Spam. Below, I have scanned a few recipes from the booklet Double Quick Menus using Armour Star Canned Meats. (click to enlarge) The recipes include, Corned Beef Hash Peaks, Baked Star Corned Beef Hash, Coddled Eggs & Hash and Hashburgers. Enjoy??
I didn't want to be accused of leaving out those fans of Treet canned meat so I have also included a few scanned recipes using Treet. They include, Barbecued Treet on Buns, Baked Treet with Fruit Dressing, Treet Potato Puffs and Treet with Mushroom Sauce. (click to enlarge) Enjoy??

  • 1. Philip Danforth Armour @ wikipedia
  • 2. Philip Danforth Armour (1833-1901) (best bio)
  • 3. Orison Swett Marden; Cheerfulness as a Life Power
  • 4. Google Book Armour and His Times by Harper Leech & John Charles Carroll
  • 5. Treet Reuben Sandwiches @ Armour website
  • 6. Broiled Meat 'n Cheese Sandwich Recipe (Armour Treet or Spam)
  • 7. Philip Armour and Packing House Working Conditions
  • 8. Culinary Wrinkles, Or How to use Armour's Extract of Beef (image)
  • 9. Louis I. Szathmary 1959-1964 Manager, New Product Development, Armour and Company, Chicago


  1. A fascinating blend of retro recipes, American history and culinary history - such fun to read! That looks like a great booklet, too, where did you find it?

  2. Hi Lidian,
    Thanks for visiting & thank you for the kind remarks. I suppose you guessed I'm back from Idaho:)

    To tell you the truth, I've had this booklet so long, I can't remember where I got it. It certainly is filled with retro designs and recipes. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  3. I am not ashamed to admit my husband and I had fried Treet sandwiches for lunch the other day. Trying to use up what is in the cupboard :). The recipe with mashed potatoes between two Treet slices actually sounds good to me.

  4. Hi Rochelle,

    Nice to "see" you and thanks so much for visiting.

    I can't say I have ever tried Treet but if you decide to sandwich it between mashed potatoes, I would LOVE to see a pic.

    Actually, having canned meat in the cupboard these days is probably a good idea...

  5. Rio de Janeiro: Graal, 1998. Psicólogos sexólogos.


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Thanks for dropping in...Louise