From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Product typeMustard, condiments, food items
OwnerMcCormick & Company
CountryRochester, New York United States
Introduced1904; 120 years ago (1904)
Previous ownersR.T. French Company
Reckitt Benckiser

French's is an American brand of prepared mustard, condiments, fried onions, and other food items that was 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 now owned by McCormick & Company.[1]


1917 photo of French's Staff on Alphonse Street in Rochester. Source The Pennant, March, 1964.

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.

French's Cream Salad Mustard ad from 1922.

In 1926, French's was sold to J. & J. Colman of the United Kingdom, a company that produced home care products such as Lysol, Reckitt's Blue and Brasso, and its own mustard brand, as well as other products such as the Frank's RedHot condiment line.[2]

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.[3] Atlantis remained a separate entity through the nineteen-fifties.

In 1960, French's purchased L. C. Forman and Sons Pickle Company of Pittsford, New York. Forman produced a variety of pickle products, including a well-known piccalilli relish.[4]

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.[5]

In 1970, the company purchased Widmer Wine Cellars of Naples, New York. The winery was sold in 1983.[6]

In 1985, the company sold its instant potato operations in Shelley, Idaho, to Pillsbury.[7]

In 1986, Reckitt & Colman acquired Durkee Famous Foods; in 1987 and consolidated headquarters in New Jersey. Durkee's French onions became French's crispy fried onions.[8][9]

In 1999, Reckitt & Colman merged with Benckiser NV to form Reckitt Benckiser.

In 2017, McCormick & Company acquired French's from Reckitt Benckiser.[10]

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.[11][12]


Until 1987, French's headquarters was located in Rochester, New York.[13] The headquarters is now located in Chester, New Jersey. 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, Zweigle's. 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.


Historically, R. T. French variously manufactured a line of spices and extracts, condiments, pickle products, sauces and gravy mixes, instant potato products, and pet care products, in particular canary and parakeet seeds.

As of 2016, in certain markets French's markets 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 fried onions.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wilen, Holden. "McCormick closes $4.2B acquisition of French's, Frank's RedHot maker". Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  2. ^ Reckitt Benckiser LLC. "French's® Mustard History". Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  3. ^ Wilkins, Mira (2004). The History of Foreign Investment in the United States, 1914-1945. Harvard University Press. p. 228. ISBN 9780674013087.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "BBQ Line Launched". The Pennant. VII (6): 3. July 1965.
  6. ^ "President of French Co. Resigns". The Telegraph. December 5, 1984. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ "Reckitt & Colman Acquires Durkee". The New York Times. August 20, 1986. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
  9. ^ "Durkee, French Hqs To Combine". The Morning Call. May 1, 1987. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
  10. ^ Bray, Chad (19 July 2017). "McCormick to Buy French's Mustard in $4.2 Billion Deal". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 July 2017. The transaction is expected to be completed in the third or fourth quarter of McCormick's fiscal year, which ends in November. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.
  11. ^ Amazon (January 1948). Dining Delights. R.T. French Company. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
  12. ^ "Seasoning with Carol French". The Food Company Cookbooks. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  13. ^ Morrell, Alan (Oct 16, 2015). "French's started right here in Rochester". Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved Nov 11, 2020.
  14. ^ "French's – Products". Retrieved 7 January 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • R. T. French Company (1980). French's centennial. OCLC 14007343.

External links[edit]