French’s is an American brand of prepared mustard condiments, fried onions, and other food items. Created by Robert Timothy French, French’s “Cream Salad Brand” mustard debuted to the world at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. By 1921, French’s Mustard had adopted its trademark pennant and begun advertising to the general public. French's is owned by Reckitt Benckiser Group plc.
Brothers Robert and George French bought a flour mill in 1883 in Fairport, New York. It burned down in 1884 and they relocated the flour mill to Rochester, New York. They named their mill the R.T. French Company. Robert French died in 1893 and brother George became company president. George (who developed the creamy yellow mustard) and another brother, Francis, introduced French’s mustard in 1904.
In 1926, French’s was sold to J. & J. Colman of the United Kingdom a company that as well as its own mustard brand produced home care products such as Lysol, Reckit’s Blue and Brasso, as well as other products such as the Frank's RedHot condiment line.
In 1928, the Atlantis Sales Corporation was formed as a subsidiary of R. T. French to handle sales and distribution of French’s, Reckitt, and Colman products. Atlantis remained a separate entity through the nineteen-fifties
In 1965, French’s introduced a new line of “Cattlemen’s” barbecue sauce. The line was inaugurated with the trip of a horse-drawn “chuck wagon” from Buffalo, New York, across upstate New York to New York City and then to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in June, 1965.
In 1986, Reckitt and Colman acquired Durkee Famous Foods; in 1987, the two companies’ headquarters were consolidated in New Jersey. As a result of the merger, Durkee's french onions became French's crispy fried onions.
For many years, the fictitious “Carol French” was the face of the company. Her name appeared on numerous recipes and cookbooks, the oldest of which may be Dining Delights from 1948.
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Until 1987, French’s headquarters was located at 1 Mustard Street in Rochester, New York. During its heyday, French’s was a sponsor of the local weather forecast, featuring its address prominently in television advertising. They also were a prominent sponsor of the Rochester Red Wings baseball club, often in conjunction with a local brand of hot dogs, Tobin's First Prize. The former headquarters location at 1 Mustard Street is now home to a variety of professional offices and public agencies.
French’s also had facilities in Shelley, Idaho, for potato products. A plant in Souderton, Pennsylvania, was constructed in 1957 and closed in the 1990s. A plant in Fresno, California, closed in 1994. Manufacturing operations were consolidated in Springfield, Missouri.
In 2015, French’s began sourcing tomato paste from the Highbury Canco factory previously owned by French's main competitor Heinz in Leamington, Ontario, Canada for ketchup and sold at retail stores in Canada. French’s food services ketchup is manufactured in a facility in Toronto and French’s retail ketchups (for sale on grocery store shelves) are made at a plant in Ohio. However, considering a successful Canadian patriotic Facebook campaign in support of the product to benefit the farmers of Leamington had unexpectedly increased sales by 400%, French's has plans to move production for ketchup destined for Canadian grocery stores to Ontario.
At one point R. T. French manufactured a complete line of spices and extracts, mustard and condiments, pickle products, sauce and gravy mixes, instant potato products, and pet care products. The company also owned Widmer Wine Cellars. French’s Potato Pancake mix was once one of the company’s most popular products. The mix is still available as part of the Hungry Jack line from Smucker's.
As of 2016, French's markets prepared mustards, Worcestershire sauce, a line of mayonnaise-based products, ketchup, barbecue sauce, potato sticks, and fried jalapeños, as well as a line of French's popular fried onions.
In March 2016, there was a controversy in Canada when national grocery store chain Loblaws stopped stocking French's ketchup, made using Canadian-grown tomatoes, citing low demand. Amid social media controversy, Loblaws decided to begin stocking it again.
- Reckitt Benckiser LLC. "French's® Mustard History". Retrieved 16 April 2012.
- Wilkins, Mira (2004). The History of Foreign Investment in the United States, 1914-1945. Harvard University Press. p. 228.
- McNellis, David (2010). Reflections on Big Spring: a History of Pittsford, NY and the Genesee River Valley. AuthorHouse. pp. 188–189. ISBN 978-1-45204-357-9.
- "BBQ Line Launched". The Pennant. VII (6): 3. July 1965.
- "President of French Co. Resigns". The Telegraph. December 5, 1984. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
- "Potato Flakes Alone Not Enough to Keep Pillsbury In Tater Land Idaho Plant Fit Into Company's Long-Term Picture". Grand Forks Herald. February 5, 1989. Retrieved April 17, 2012.
- "Reckitt & Colman Acquires Durkee". The New York Times. August 20, 1986. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
- "Durkee, French Hqs To Combine". The Morning Call. May 1, 1987. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
- Amazon. "Dining Delights". Retrieved April 16, 2012.
- Emma Prestwich (March 1, 2016). "French's Ketchup Is Selling Out In Canada After This Man's Viral Post". The Huffington Post Canada. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
- "French's using Leamington tomatoes in all its ketchup". CBC News. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
- O'Reilly, Terry (12 January 2017). "Unforeseen Circumstances: How Companies Are Affected By Chance". Under the Influence. CBC Radio. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
- Vanessa Lu (March 22, 2016). "French's ketchup plans to move production to Ontario". Toronto Star. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
- "French's – Products". Retrieved 7 January 2016.
- "Loblaws drops French's ketchup from its shelves". CBC News. March 14, 2016. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
- "Loblaws' French's ketchup snub sparks patriotic backlash". CBC News. March 16, 2016. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
- "Loblaws reverses decision, will continue to sell French's ketchup". CBC News. March 15, 2016. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
- R. T. French Company (1980). French's centennial.