Aladdin (food & beverage containers)
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|Brand of Pacific Market International, LLC|
|Victor S. Johnson, Sr.|
Aladdin is a brand, over 100 years old, made popular for its line of character lunchboxes including Hopalong Cassady, Superman, Mickey Mouse and The Jetsons. Today Aladdin continues to be a food and beverage products brand and is owned by Pacific Market International, LLC of Seattle, Washington.
Aladdin Industries was a vendor of lunchboxes, kerosene lamps, stoves and thermal food storage containers. It was founded in Chicago in 1908 by Victor S. Johnson, Sr. and incorporated as the Mantle Lamp Company. Aladdin Industries was created as a subsidiary of Mantle Lamp Company in 1914, specifically to manufacture vacuum bottles. The company was further diversified under former president Johnson's leadership. It was the maker of the first character lunchbox, using images of Hopalong Cassidy, in 1950.
In 1908, Victor S. Johnson, Sr., a Chicago soap salesman, became interested in kerosene mantle burners. Dissatisfied with the available kerosene lamps of the time, Johnson began selling US made mantle lamps. He incorporated his lamp sales business and called the company the Mantle Lamp Company of America. In 1912 the company began manufacturing mantle lamps that gave off a steady white light without smoke. They called these lamps Aladdin lamps after the magical lamp and wish-granting genie in the children’s story.
In 1917, Johnson diversified the company’s offerings and began producing insulated cooking dishes, known at the time as Aladdin Thermalware jars. These Thermalware jars were the company’s first venture into heat and cold retaining dishes and are early cousins of the products in use today. In 1919, Johnson moved these jars into a new subsidiary he called Aladdin Industries. This subsidiary offered thermalware jars and vacuum ware and successfully sold and manufactured these products from 1919-1943.
In 1943, Victor S. Johnson, Sr. died and his son Victor S. Johnson, Jr. took over as president of Aladdin Industries, Inc. In 1949, in an effort to centralize operations, Johnson Jr. moved Aladdin’s offices and manufacturing facilities to Nashville, TN.
Under Victor Johnson Jr’s management, Aladdin began producing metal lunch boxes in the 40's. By the 50's Aladdin was an industry leader in this category and would remain so for the next 30 years. Aladdin’s dominance in lunch products resulted from a strategic move in the early 50s to license popular character images on its products. Hopalong Cassidy was the first character licensed product and in its first year, sales went from 50,000 units to 600,000 units. It can be said that Aladdin had struck a chord with consumers nationwide. Subsequent branding included Superman, Mickey Mouse and The Jetsons.
In 1965 Aladdin Industries expanded their product line through the acquisition of the Stanley Bottle operation. This move helped solidify the company’s position in the food and beverage container category by deepening their line of steel offerings. Around this time, Aladdin started another subsidiary, called Aladdin Synergetics, which produced meal trays for hospitals, airlines and prisons. This subsidiary was later sold in 1998 to Welbit Corporation.
80’s - 2002
During the 80's and 90's Aladdin continued to grow and by the mid 90's its Nashville, TN operation grew to employ 1100 employees. At this time, foam insulated mugs grew in popularity and Aladdin’s products were sold in grocery chains nationwide. Unfortunately, during this time, it can be argued that Aladdin suffered from mis-management and high operation costs forcing Aladdin to close their Nashville factory on Murfreesboro Road, producing its last thermal products in July 2002.
Recognizing the value of the Aladdin brand, and determined to bring new life to the iconic brand, Seattle based company Pacific Market International, LLC purchased the Aladdin brand in 2002.
Current Aladdin brand
The Aladdin brand is now owned by the privately held Pacific Market International (PMI), and is headquartered in Seattle, Washington, with offices in Europe, Asia and Australia. As of 2009, PMI sell vacuum flasks and other thermal products manufactured under the Aladdin name.
The protagonist in Penelope Fitzgerald's Booker prize shortlisted novel The Gate of Angels, set in 1912, uses one of the company's lamps (an "Aladdin") in the fictional college of St Angelicus, where the use of electricity or gas is not permitted.
- Aladdin - Official Site (company info, online store, free artwork)
- Aladdin Industries from The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture
- A History of Aladdin Lamps — TeriAnn's Guide to Aladdin Mantle Lamps