History of the Mccormick Company
from Antique Bottle World August 1975
McCormick Spice and Flavoring Company is not as old as some of the companies
that we collect bottles from, but it is of interest because of the large amount
of bottles we find and because it is still in business today. It is the largest
spice and flavoring company in the world today.
September 2, 1889, Willoughby McCormick and his staff of two girls and a boy
began operating as McCormick and Company. The plant was a one room, cellar and
backyard operation in Baltimore, Maryland. Their motto was "Make the Best -
someone will buy it." The first products were flavoring extracts, fruit
syrups and juices. They were sold under the Bee Brand and Silver Medal trade
marks. Other products made at this time were Iron Glue (Sticks Everything But
The Buyer), and Uncle Sam's Nerve and Bone Liniment (For Man or Beast).
1890, the company had grown tremendously and occupied a four story building.
They had added food colors, household drugs and lubricating oils to their
products. In 1895, the Clover Brand was used for the flavoring extracts, fruit
syrups and juices. In 1896, the F. G. Emmett Spice Company of Philadelphia was
bought by McCormick. All the machinery was shipped to Baltimore. Within one
year, McCormick entered fully into spice manufacturing. In this year, the first
McCormick cookbook was published, and the first premium was offered. The premium
was the "Little Puck Lamp," a perfume bottle, night lamp and toy
combined. Yours for three labels from McCormick Wild Cherry Tonic.
1900, the first export office was opened in New York City. McCormick products
were then shipped to South and Central America, South Africa,
and West Indies and Europe. The first year of the export office saw more than
six tons of sewing machine oil exported. By 1902, the Banquet Brand was
established for its spices and mustard. In 1903, McCormick and Company was
incorporated in the state of Maine. By now the firm enjoyed a wide reputation as
Manufacturing Chemists, Drug and Spice Millers, Importers and Exporters. There
were hundreds of products from teas to vanilla beans to epsom salts, and elixirs
were supplied to manufacturers and retailers.
1904, as the Great Baltimore Fire raged over the business district, all the
company's assets and records went up in smoke. Willoughby wrote, "I had
built up my business until it was the largest of its kind in the United States
and now it is the smallest of the small." McCormick resumed operations
quickly in temporary quarters, the first large factory among the burned-out
businesses to do so. In ten months, a new five story building was erected on the
old site, the first to go up after the fire.
1905, the brand name Clover Blossom was established for the spices and mustard.
By 1909, the Green Seal salad dressings and table relishes were added to its
1912, Charles P. McCormick joined the shipping department as a part-time clerk
for the summer. In this same year a branch office was opened in Philadelphia. In
1913, another branch office was opened in New York. In this year the second
cooking manual was published, "The Blue Book of Culinary Art" - nearly
200 pages of recipes and household hints liberally sprinkled with homely maxims.
Another branch office was opened in Pittsburgh in 1915. Charles P. McCormick
joined the sales force full time in 1919, as a retail salesman in Richmond,
1921, a new home was built for the House of McCormick. It was situated on the
Baltimore Harbor, the nine story building was said to be the largest steel and
concrete building south of New York. Twelve and a half acres of daylight floor
space and a private railroad siding. By 1928, the company's sales hit the
$5,000,000 mark. In 1930, John M. Curlett joined the company. His first
assignment was to contact a man for a radio cooking school sponsored by
McCormick and Company.
1932, the firm faced a serious crisis as sales plummeted during the great
Depression. On November 4, Willoughby McCormick died while on a business trip.
Elected to Presidency and Chairman of the Board was 36 year old C. P. McCormick.
He quickly turned the tide by implementing his philosophy of Multiple
Management. Working hours were cut, wages raised and Junior and Factory Boards
1934, Edwin Tunis, a Baltimore architect, was commissioned to design and
construct an early English Tea House on the seventh floor of the McCormick
building in Baltimore. This was followed by his plans for Friendship Court, a
replica of a
Century English village. The purpose of this renovation was to provide a
pleasant reception area for all who visited the House of McCormick.
this time on the company kept expanding and improving its packing and processing
methods. In 1941, the big Mc became the trademark for all but a few products. In
1947, McCormick merged with a giant of the West, A. Shilling and Co., of San
Francisco, a coffee, spice and extract house established in 1881. By 1948, the
company's sales reached over $25,000,000 and it kept merging with smaller houses
and expanding to Mexico, Sweden, Canada, Colombia, Venezuela, Switzerland,
London, and Panama. By 1961, sales by wholly owned McCormick enterprises
exceeded $50,000,000. With more mergers and new countries entered, sales
surpassed $100,000,000 by 1969. That isn't bad for a company that started with
one boss and three employees in a cellar 84 years ago.*