|Type||Subsidiary of National Grape Cooperative Association|
|Industry||Beverages and Foods|
Vineland, New Jersey
|Founder(s)||Thomas Bramwell Welch|
|Headquarters||Concord, Massachusetts, U.S.|
Niagara Grape juice
|Parent||National Grape Cooperative Association
Dr Pepper Snapple Group (soda)
Promotion in Motion, Inc. (fruit snacks)
Welch Foods Inc. (Welch's) is an American company, headquartered in Concord, Massachusetts. It has been owned by the National Grape Cooperative Association, a co-op of grape growers, since 1952.
Founded in Vineland, New Jersey, in 1869, by Thomas Bramwell Welch, Welch's is the food processing and marketing arm of the National Grape Cooperative Association, which comprises 1,300 grape growers located in Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington and Ontario, Canada. The oldest extant structure associated with the company is Welch Factory Building No. 1, located at Westfield, New York, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
Welch's is particularly known for its grape juices, jams and jellies made from dark Concord grapes and its white Niagara grape juice. The company also manufactures and markets an array of other products, including refrigerated juices, frozen and shelf-stable concentrates, organic grape juice and dried fruit. Welch's has also licensed its name for a line of grape-flavored soft drinks since 1974. Welch's grape and strawberry soda flavors are currently licensed to the Dr Pepper Snapple Group. Other popular products that use the Welch's name are the fruit snacks made by The Promotion In Motion Companies, Inc.
In the 1960s, Welch's was a major sponsor of the ABC primetime animated comedy series The Flintstones; its characters were prominently featured in Welch's TV commercials on that show, and on jars of Welch's grape jelly. In the early 1970s, The Archies cartoon characters were on the jars.
Welch's Grape Juice
The method of pasteurizing grape juice to halt the fermentation has been attributed to a British physician and dentist, Thomas Bramwell Welch (1825–1903) in 1869. Welch was an adherent to the Wesleyan Methodist Connexion which strongly opposed "manufacturing, buying, selling, or using intoxicating liquors" and advocated the use of unfermented grape juice instead of wine for administering the sacrament of the Eucharist, or communion, during the church service. A few years earlier, Welch had relocated to Vineland, New Jersey, a town started in 1861 by Philadelphia land developer Charles K. Landis (1833–1900) to create his own alcohol-free utopian society, a "Temperance Town" based on agriculture and progressive thinking. Landis declared that he was "about to build a city, and an agricultural and fruit-growing colony around it." The population reached 5,500 by 1865. Landis determined the potential in growing grapes and named the settlement "Vineland", and advertised to attract Italian grape growers to Vineland, offering 20 acres (81,000 m2) of land that had to be cleared and used to grow grapes. Welch had moved to the region following his sister who was one of Vineland's earliest residents and began to produce an "unfermented wine" (grape juice) from locally grown grapes that was marketed as "Dr. Welch's Unfermented Wine". This product became "Welch's Grape Juice" in 1893 when Welch and his son Charles E. Welch (also a practicing dentist) had decided to incorporate in 1893 as the Welch's Grape Juice Company at Westfield, New York. The product was given to visitors at international exhibitions. The oldest extant structure associated with the company is Welch Factory Building No. 1, located at Westfield, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
As the temperance movement grew, so did the popularity of grape juice. In 1913, Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan served grape juice instead of wine during a full-dress diplomatic function, and in 1914, Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy, forbade any alcoholic drinks on board of naval ships, actively replacing them with grape juice. During World War I, the company supplied "grapelade", a type of grape jam, to the military and advertised aggressively. Subsequent development of new grape products and sponsorship of radio and television programs made the company very successful.
Welch's has featured people in their television commercials such as:
- Hays, Constance L. How Too Much Purple Could Mean Less Green. New York Times. 18 April 1999.
- Welch's History
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- Hein, Kenneth. Welch's Touts Concord Grape as 'Superfruit'. Adweek. 17 Nov. 2008.
- Hallett, Anthony; and Hallett, Diane. "Thomas B. Welch, Charles E. Welch" in Entrepreneur Magazine Encyclopedia of Entrepreneurs. (John Wiley and Sons, 1997), 481–483; and Haines, Lee M.; and Thomas, Paul William. "A New Denomination" in An Outline History of the Wesleyan Church (4th edition ed.). (Indianapolis, Indiana: Wesley Press, 1990), 68.
- Our People of the Century: Charles K. Landis - Founder of a City, Creator of a Dream. Cumberland County, New Jersey. Accessed 26 January 2013.
- The Founding of Vineland and Its Growth as an Agricultural Center, West Jersey and South Jersey Heritage. Accessed August 28, 2007.
- "Alton Brown Is Welch's New Spokesman". Retrieved 13 September 2010.
- "Shyann McClure :: Video". Retrieved 13 September 2010.
- "Travis Tedford - Welch's Grape Juice Commercial". Retrieved 13 September 2010.