Armour and Company

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Armour and Company
IndustryMeatpacking, consumer products, pharmaceuticals
Founded1867 in Chicago
FounderPhilip Danforth Armour
Defunct1983 (1983)
FateSold to ConAgra
Chicago, Illinois
United States
Area served
United States
ProductsProcessed meat, canned food, soap, pharmaceuticals
OwnerPhilip Danforth Armour family (1867–1920)
Frederick H. Prince (1920–1969)
The Greyhound Corporation (1970–1983)
Armour (brand)
Product typeProcessed meat
OwnerSmithfield Foods
CountryUnited States
MarketsUnited States
Previous ownersArmour and Company (1867–1983), ConAgra (1983–2006)
Armour Star (brand)
Product typeCanned food
OwnerPinnacle Foods
CountryUnited States
MarketsUnited States
Previous ownersArmour and Company (1944–1983), The Dial Corporation (1983–2006)
TaglineAny Time is Armour Time

Armour & Company was an American company and was one of the five leading firms in the meat packing industry. It was founded in Chicago, in 1867, by the Armour brothers led by Philip Danforth Armour. By 1880, the company had become Chicago's most important business and had helped make Chicago and its Union Stock Yards the center of America's meatpacking industry. During the same period, its facility in Omaha, Nebraska, boomed, making the city's meatpacking industry the largest in the nation by 1959. In connection with its meatpacking operations, the company also ventured into pharmaceuticals (Armour Pharmaceuticals) and soap manufacturing, introducing Dial soap in 1948.

Presently, the Armour food brands are split between Smithfield Foods (for refrigerated meat — "Armour Meats") and ConAgra Brands (for canned shelf-stable meat products — "Armour Star"). The Armour pharmaceutical brand is owned by Forest Laboratories. Dial soap is now owned by Henkel.



Hanging room, Armour's packing house, Chicago, 1896
Postcard of the Armour Packing Plant in Fort Worth, undated

Armour and Company had its roots in Milwaukee, where in 1863 Philip D. Armour joined with John Plankinton (the founder of the Layton and Plankinton Packing Company in 1852) to establish Plankinton, Armour and Company. Together, the partners expanded Plankinton's Milwaukee meat packing operation and established branches in Chicago and Kansas City and an exporting house in New York City. Armour and Plankinton dissolved their partnership in 1884 with the Milwaukee operation eventually becoming the Cudahy Packing Company.[1]

In addition to meats, Armour sold many types of consumer product made from animals in its early years, including glue, oil, fertilizer, hairbrushes, buttons, oleomargarine, and drugs, made from slaughterhouse byproducts. Armour operated in an environment without labor unions, health inspections, or government regulation. Accidents were commonplace. Armour was notorious for the low pay it offered its line workers. It fought unionization by banning known union activists and breaking strikes in 1904 and 1921 by employing African Americans and new immigrants as strikebreakers. The company did not become fully unionized until the late 1930s when the meatpacking union succeeded in creating an interracial industrial union as part of the Congress of Industrial Organizations.

Miss Oak Ridge Tennessee 1947 wins an Armour smoked ham

During the Spanish–American War (1898), Armour sold 500,000 pounds (230,000 kg) of beef to the US Army. An army inspector tested the meat two months later and found that 751 cases were rotten and had contributed to the food poisoning of thousands of soldiers.[2]

In the first decade of the 20th century, a young Dale Carnegie, representing the South Omaha sales region, became the company's highest-selling salesman, an experience he drew on in his best-selling book, How to Win Friends and Influence People.[3]

Armour's Food Source Map : The Greatness of the United States Is Founded on Agriculture, 1922[4]

In the early 1920s, Armour encountered financial troubles and the family sold its majority interest to financier Frederick H. Prince. The firm retained its position as one of the largest American firms through the Great Depression and the sharp increase in demand during World War II. During this period, it expanded its operations across the United States; at its peak, the company employed just under 50,000 people.

In 1948, Armour, which had made soap for years as a byproduct of the meatpacking process, developed a deodorant soap by adding the germicidal agent AT-7 to soap. This limited body odor by reducing bacteria on the skin. The new soap was named Dial because of its 24-hour protection against the odor-causing bacteria. Armour introduced the soap with a full-page advertisement using scented ink in the Chicago Tribune. During the 1950s, Dial became the best-selling deodorant soap in the US. The company adopted the slogan "Aren't you glad you use Dial? Don't you wish everybody did?" in 1953. In the 1960s, the Dial brand was expanded to include deodorants and shaving creams. Because of the popularity and strong sales of Dial brand, fueled by magazine, radio, and television advertising, Armour's consumer-products business was incorporated as Armour-Dial, Inc. in 1967.

In 1958, William Wood-Prince, a cousin of Frederick H. Prince, became president of Armour and Company.


Armour and Company historical marker in Fort Worth, Texas; the company closed its operations there in 1962

In 1970, Armour and Company was acquired by Chicago-based bus company Greyhound Corporation[5] after a hostile takeover attempt by General Host Corporation[6] a year before. Prior to the hostile takeover bid by General Host, the company had originally planned to merge with Gulf and Western Industries in 1968.

In 1971, Greyhound relocated Armour's headquarters from Chicago to Phoenix, Arizona, to a new $83-million building. Rock icon Stevie Nicks' father, Jess Nicks, who was a Greyhound executive, became president of Armour.

In 1978, Greyhound sold Armour Pharmaceuticals to Revlon.[7] Revlon sold its drug unit in 1985 to Rorer (later known as Rhône-Poulenc Rorer).[8] Forest Laboratories acquired the rights to Armour Thyroid from Rhone-Poulenc Rorer in 1991.[9] The remaining assets of Armour Pharmaceuticals are now part of CSL Behring.[10] Armour's Factor VIII product "Factorate" was widely reported as infecting thousands of hemophiliacs worldwide with HIV during the 1980s;[11][12] there have also been allegations that the firm suppressed evidence showing the product was defective.[13] As a result, there have been lawsuits, inquiries and criminal charges.

Greyhound's rapid diversification and frequent unit restructurings led to erratic profitability. In 1981, John W. Teets was appointed chairman of Greyhound and began selling unprofitable subsidiaries. After meat packers struck at the Armour plants in the early-1980s, Teets shut 29 facilities and sold Armour Food Company to ConAgra in 1983[14] but kept the Armour Star canned meat business. Armour-Dial continued to manufacture the canned meat products using the Armour Star trademark under license from ConAgra.


In 1985, Greyhound acquired the household products business of Purex Industries, Inc. in 1985[15] and combined it with Armour-Dial to form The Dial Corporation.

In late 1995, parent company Greyhound (renamed The Dial Corp in 1991) announced its intention to spin off the Dial consumer-products business. Afterwards, Dial's former parent company was renamed Viad Corp, consisting of the service businesses. The Dial consumer business was reborn as the new Dial Corporation, relocating its corporate offices to Scottsdale, Arizona, adjacent to its long-time research and development facility. Under new CEO Malcolm Jozoff, a former P&G executive, the new Dial Corporation underwent major layoffs in the fall of 1996 and a series of financially disastrous acquisitions the following four years. In 2000, Jozoff was replaced by Herbert Baum[16] with a mandate from the board of directors to find a suitable buyer for the company.


Dial was acquired by Henkel KGaA of Düsseldorf, Germany in March 2004. The food business of Dial, including Armour Star canned meats, was sold to Pinnacle Foods in March 2006.[17] In 2007 Pinnacle Foods was acquired by the Blackstone Group, a New York City-based private equity firm.[18] Conagra acquired Pinnacle Foods for $10.9 billion in 2018.[19][20]

In July 2006, ConAgra sold most of their refrigerated meats businesses, including the Armour brand, to Smithfield Foods.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Plankinton, John 1820 - 1891". Archived from the original on 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2014-02-11.
  2. ^ Zinn, Howard. A People's History of the United States. New York: Perennial, 2003. p.309 ISBN 0-06-052837-0
  3. ^ How To Win Friends And Influence People, by Dale Carnegie, Introduction by Lowell Thomas, p. 9, Copyright 1964
  4. ^ Armour Company, and Armour Company, Chicago. Armour's Food Source Map : The Greatness of the United States Is Founded on Agriculture. Chicago: Armour & Company, 1922.
  5. ^ Lueck, Thomas J. (June 11, 1983). "Greyhound to Dispose of Armour". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-07-07.
  6. ^ Belair, Felix Jr. (18 January 1973). "SEC sues General Host and 9 over Armour bid". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  7. ^ "Revlon Set to Buy Armour Druz Units". The New York Times. 6 July 1977.
  8. ^ Crudele, John (30 November 1985). "RORER BUYS DRUG UNIT OF REVLON". The New York Times.
  9. ^ Reuters (3 January 1991). "COMPANY NEWS; Rhone Sells Rights". The New York Times. {{cite news}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  10. ^ "Caliber Associates - Clients". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2013-09-09.
  11. ^ Society, Eric Feldman Associate Director New York University's Institute for Law and; Health, Columbia University Ronald Bayer Professor Joseph L. Mailman School of Public (5 March 1999). Blood Feuds : AIDS, Blood, and the Politics of Medical Disaster: AIDS, Blood, and the Politics of Medical Disaster. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 9780199759736.
  12. ^ Information, Reed Business (17 July 1986). "New Scientist". Reed Business Information. {{cite web}}: |first1= has generic name (help)
  13. ^ "Firm squelched study showing risk of HIV in hemophilia drug". AIDS Policy & Law. 10 (19): 5. 20 October 1995. PMID 11362848.
  14. ^ Hollie, Pamel (30 June 1983). "Greyhound Selling Armour". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  15. ^ Hicks, Jonathan (22 February 1985). "Greyhound to buy Purex Division". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  16. ^ Winter, Greg (9 August 2000). "2 officers resign as Dial says profits will be off". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  17. ^ "Pinnacle Foods Group acquires Armour dry food products". Food Ingredients First. 2 March 2006. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  18. ^ "Blackstone Group buying Pinnacle Foods". NBC News. 12 February 2007. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  19. ^ Watrous, Monica (December 21, 2018). "Conagra Brands cleaning up Pinnacle Foods' mess". Food Business News. Retrieved August 22, 2022.
  20. ^ Naidu, Richa. "Conagra to buy Pinnacle for $8.1 billion, creating frozen food powerhouse". Reuters U.S. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  21. ^ "ConAgra Foods to Sell Refrigerated Meats Businesses to Smithfield Foods for $575 Million; Sale Includes Butterball, Eckrich and Armour Brands". Business Wire. 31 July 2006. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  22. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • Arnould, Richard J. "Changing patterns of concentration in American meat packing, 1880–1963." Business History Review 45.1 (1971): 18-34.
  • Gras, N.S.B. and Henrietta M. Larson. Casebook in American business history (1939) pp 623–43.
  • Warren, Wilson J. Tied to the great packing machine: The Midwest and meatpacking (University of Iowa Press, 2007).

External links[edit]