James L. Kraft

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James L. Kraft
Born James L. Kraft
(1874-12-11)December 11, 1874
Stevensville, Ontario
Died February 16, 1953(1953-02-16) (aged 78)
Skokie, Illinois
Cause of death
Heart attack
Resting place
Memorial Park Cemetery, Skokie, Illinois
Nationality Canadian
American
Known for Kraft Foods Inc
Religion Baptist

James Lewis (J.L.) Kraft (December 11, 1874 – February 16, 1953) was a Canadian-American entrepreneur and inventor. Of German origin,[1] he was born near Stevensville, Ontario in Canada to Mennonite parents, George and Minerva Tripp Kraft. He was the first to patent processed cheese. Kraft was educated in the Stevensville area and worked nearby at Ferguson's general store in Fort Erie, Ontario.[2]

After immigrating to Buffalo and then Chicago in 1903, he began selling cheese from a horse-drawn wagon. Four of his brothers joined the company in 1909.[3] By 1914 J.L. Kraft & Bros. Company, which later became 'Kraft Foods Inc opened its first cheese manufacturing plant in Stockton, Illinois.[4] Kraft developed a revolutionary process, patented in 1916, for pasteurizing cheese so that it would resist spoiling and could be shipped long distances. The company grew quickly, expanding into Canada in 1919.[5] Kraft saw a large increase in business during World War I when the United States government provided cheese in tins to their armed forces.

J. L. Kraft served as the company's president from 1909 to 1953. Over the years, Kraft introduced many innovative products and used progressive marketing techniques to make his company one of North America's leading food producers. During that time the company introduced Velveeta in 1928 and Miracle Whip in 1933 at the Century of Progress world's fair. Kraft was an amateur jewelry maker; he also supported the Baptist Church and was a strong proponent of religious education for young people.

In the mid-1920s, Kraft began a venture to create a fashionable golf and tennis resort community in Lake Wales, Florida, along with Carl and Bertha Hinshaw. The Florida land bust and the stock market crash in October of '29 spelled the end of the Kraft connection. The Chalet Suzanne opened in the worst year of the Great Depression, 1931,[citation needed] and has been run by successive generations of the Hinshaw family ever since. Even though Kraft bowed out of the development, a 1920s era Spanish Revival house on the property continues to be called "The Kraft House".

J. L. Kraft and his wife Pauline had one daughter, Edith. The Krafts' home, built in 1922 by architect Paul V. Hyland, stands on North Kenmore in Wilmette, Illinois. He is interred in Memorial Park Cemetery, Skokie, Illinois.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://thefundraisingjournal.com/Archive/1001/Kraft_Foods_Inc.html
  2. ^ Canadian historic marker
  3. ^ Canadian historic marker
  4. ^ Kraft Foods website
  5. ^ Canadian historic marker

External links[edit]