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Industry Food processing
Founded East Hanover, New Jersey, U.S. (1898)
Headquarters East Hanover, New Jersey, U.S.
Website (formally Nabisco World website)

Nabisco (/nəˈbɪsk/; from the National Biscuit Company) is an American manufacturer of cookies and snacks. Headquartered in East Hanover, New Jersey, the company is a subsidiary of Illinois-based Mondelēz International. Nabisco's plant in Chicago, a 1,800,000-square-foot (170,000 m2) production facility at 7300 S. Kedzie Avenue, is the largest bakery in the world, employing more than 1,500 workers and producing some 320 million pounds of snack foods annually.

Its products include Chips Ahoy!, Oreos, Ritz Crackers and Wheat Thins for the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico and Venezuela as well as other parts of South America.

Nabisco products are branded as Kraft in some other countries. All Nabisco cookie or cracker products are branded Christie in Canada. Prior to the Post Cereals merger, the cereal division kept the Nabisco name in Canada. The proof of purchase on their products is marketed as a "brand seal". The Nabisco name became redundant in Canada after Kraft took over.

Nabisco opened corporate offices as the National Biscuit Company in the world's first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building in the Chicago Loop in 1898.[1]


The Nabisco trademark imprinted on an Oreo cookie

Nabisco's trademark, a diagonal ellipse with a series of antenna-like lines protruding from the top, forms the base of its logo and can be seen imprinted on Oreo wafers in addition to Nabisco product boxes and literature.[2] It has been claimed in company promotional material to be an early European symbol for quality. It may be derived from a medieval Italian printer's mark that represented "the triumph of the moral and good over the evil and worldly",[citation needed] or to represent the act of winnowing, separating grain from chaff.[citation needed]

In Indonesia, the Nabisco logo is depicted with a similar colour to the Indonesian flag.


Company timeline[edit]

  • 1792 – Pearson & Sons Bakery opens in Massachusetts. They make a biscuit called pilot bread consumed on long sea voyages.
  • 1801 – Josiah Bent Bakery first coined the term 'crackers' for a crunchy biscuit they produce.
  • 1889 – William Moore acquires Pearson & Sons Bakery, Josiah Bent Bakery,and six other bakeries to start the New York Biscuit Company.
  • 1890 – Adolphus Green starts the American Biscuit & Manufacturing Company after acquiring forty different bakeries.
  • 1898 – William Moore, Adolphus Green and John G. Zeller (Richmond Steam Bakery) merge to form the National Biscuit Company. Adolphus Green is president.
  • 1901 – The name Nabisco is first used as part of a name for a sugar wafer.
  • 1923-1931 – John G. Zeller is President of National Biscuit Company.
  • 1948 - Nabisco celebrates golden anniversary.
  • 1971 – Nabisco becomes the corporate name.
  • 1973 – Frank Tasco is listed as the chairman of Nabisco.
  • 1981 – Nabisco merges with Standard Brands.
  • 1985 – Nabisco Brands merges with R.J. Reynolds
  • 1993 – Kraft General Foods acquires Nabisco ready-to-eat cold cereals from RJR Nabisco (the cereals are now owned by Post Cereals).
  • 1999 – Nabisco acquires Favorite Brands International
  • 2000 – Philip Morris Companies, Inc. acquires Nabisco and merges it with Kraft Foods, Inc.
  • 2011 – Kraft Foods announced it was splitting, making the snack food business a separate company (to be called Mondelēz International LLC).[3]


Nabisco dates its founding to 1898,[4] a decade when the bakery business underwent a major consolidation. Early in the decade, bakeries throughout the country were consolidated regionally, into companies such as Chicago's American Biscuit and Manufacturing Company (which was formed from 40 Midwestern bakeries in 1830), the New York Biscuit Company (consisting of seven eastern bakeries), and the United States Baking Company. In 1898, the National Biscuit Company was formed from the combination of those three. The merger resulted in a company with 114 bakeries across the US and headquartered in New York City. The "biscuit" in the name of the company is a British English and early American English term for cracker and cookie products.

Key to the founding of Nabisco was Pittsburgh baking mogul Sylvester S. Marvin. Marvin arrived in Pittsburgh in 1863 and established himself in the cracker business, founding S. S. Marvin Co. Its products included crackers, cakes and breads. Marvin was called the Edison of manufacturing for his innovations in the bakery business. By 1888 it was the largest in the US, and the centerpiece of the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco). Marvin was also a member of the elite South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club of Johnstown Flood fame.

A Nabisco silo in Toledo, Ohio

Packaging breakthrough[edit]

After the consolidation, the president of National Biscuit Company (Adolphus Green of American Biscuit and Manufacturing Company) asked Frank Peters to create a package to distribute fresher products. This paved its way for In-Er Seal package, whose logo is a prototype for the "Nabisco Thing". The In-Er Seal package is a system of inter-folded wax paper and cardboard to "seal in the freshness" of the product. At the beginning of his presidency, Green decided the National Biscuit Company, often shortened to NBC, needed a new idea that grabbed the public's attention. He got it when his employees created a new cracker that was flakier and lighter than any of their competitors' versions.

The Uneeda biscuit looked promising, but Green had to make sure it got to customers fresh, so it was the first to use the In-Er Seal package in 1898. Until then, crackers were sold unbranded and packed loosely in barrels. Mothers would give their sons a paper bag and ask them to run to the store and get the bag filled with crackers. National Biscuit Company used this as part of Uneeda Biscuit advertising symbol, which depicts a boy carrying a pack of Uneeda Biscuit in the rain. In 2009 (after over 110 years), Nabisco discontinued the Uneeda biscuit, concerned that the product was not sufficiently profitable.

20th century[edit]

Early 20th century Uneeda Biscuit Ghost sign, Dubuque, Iowa.

The first use of "Nabisco" was in a cracker brand first produced by National Biscuit Company in 1901.[citation needed] The firm later introduced—either through development or acquisition— Fig Newtons, Nabisco Wafers (early 1900s, later sold in one form as Biscos, a sugar wafer originally containing a variety of flavored fillings), Anola Wafers (early 1900s, later discontinued; a chocolate wafer with chocolate filling), Barnum's Animal Crackers (1902), Cameos (1910), Lorna Doones (1912; shortbread), Oreos (1912),[4] and Famous Chocolate Wafers (1924; a thin wafer without filling).

In 1924, the National Biscuit Company introduced a snack in a sealed packet called the Peanut Sandwich Packet. They soon added a second, the Sorbetto Sandwich Packet. These allowed salesmen to sell to soda fountains, road stands, milk bars, lunch rooms and news stands. Sales increased, and in 1928 the company started to use the name NAB. The term Nabs today is used to generically mean any type of snack crackers, most commonly in the southern US.[5]

During WWII, the company manufactured K-Rations for US troops. The first use of the red triangular logo was in 1952. The company name was changed to Nabisco in 1971.

The company became a part of RJR Nabisco in 1985 when it merged with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.


Mergers and acquisitions[edit]


The National Biscuit Company acquired the Shredded Wheat Company, maker of Triscuit and Shredded Wheat cereal, and Christie, Brown & Company of Toronto in 1928, but all of the Nabisco products in Canada still use the name Christie. It also acquired F.H. Bennett Company, maker of Milk-Bone dog biscuits, in 1931. When Kraft bought Nabisco, it included Christie.

In 1981, Nabisco merged with Standard Brands, maker of Planters Nuts, Baby Ruth and Butterfinger candy bars, Royal gelatin, Fleischmann's and Blue Bonnet margarines, and many other brands. The company was then renamed Nabisco Brands, Inc. At that time, it also acquired the Life Savers brand from the E.R. Squibb Company.

R. J. Reynolds merger[edit]

Main article: RJR Nabisco

In 1985, Nabisco was bought by R. J. Reynolds, forming RJR Nabisco. After three years of mixed results, the company became one of the hotspots in the 1980s leveraged buyout mania. The company was in auction with two bidders: F. Ross Johnson, the company's president and CEO, and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, a private equity partnership.

The company was sold to KKR in what was then the biggest leveraged buyout in history, described in the book Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, and a subsequent film.

Subsequent divestitures[edit]

Legal battles[edit]

In 1997, the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus[6] became concerned with an ad campaign for Planters Deluxe Mixed Nuts. The initial commercial featured a man and monkey deserted on an island. They discover a crate of Planters peanuts and rejoice in the peanuts' positive health facts.

Nabisco made a detailed statement describing how their peanuts were healthier than most other snack products, going as far as comparing the nutritional facts of Planters peanuts to those of potato chips, Cheddar cheese chips, and popcorn. Technically, the commercials complied with United States Food and Drug Administration regulations, and they were allowed to continue. However, as requested by the NAD, Nabisco agreed to make fat content disclosure more conspicuous in future commercials.[7]

The company's A1 Steak Sauce was the subject of a legal battle against a venue called Arnie's Deli in 1991. The delicatessen was selling and using a homemade sauce called "A2 Sauce." The verdict favored Nabisco.

NASCAR sponsorship[edit]

From 2002–2005, Nabisco and Kraft jointly sponsored both Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and Roush Racing. Earnhardt Jr. won four races in a row at Daytona International Speedway with Nabisco sponsorship. Kraft and Nabisco sponsored a part-time Sprint Cup effort in car #81 driven by Jason Keller and John Andretti and fielded by Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Nabisco also sponsored Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the 2010 Subway Jalapeño 250 at Daytona International Speedway in July, 2010 with their Oreo/Ritz brand's and Tony Stewart with the Ritz brand in the 2010 DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway in 2010. And in 2012 with there Oreos brand to celebrate its 100th anniversary


  1. ^ "City of Chicago". City of Chicago. Retrieved 2015-03-26. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ "News Releases". 2011-08-04. Retrieved 2015-03-26. 
  4. ^ a b Laurie, Maxine N.; and Mappen, Marc; Encyclopedia of New Jersey: Rutgers University Press; 2004/2005. P. 555.
  5. ^ Duffin-Ward, Maureen; Hallgren, Gary (2004). Suddenly Southern: A Yankee's Guide to Living in Dixie. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 44. ISBN 9780743254953. 
  6. ^ "Advertising Industry Self-Regulation". 2015-03-18. Retrieved 2015-03-26. 
  7. ^ [2][dead link]

External links[edit]