L. A. M. Phelan

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Louis Austin Merritt Phelan
BornFebruary 10, 1884
DiedOctober 1, 1971
Occupation(s)businessman and inventor

L. A. M. Phelan (1884–1971) was an American businessman and inventor. He is known mainly as inventor of the broaster equipment and method for pressure-cooking chicken, and founder of the Broaster Company.


In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Phelan worked on invention and development with Goodyear, Monsanto, American Car and Foundry, and Allis-Chalmers, on the Panama Canal project, as well others in the fields of carton making, oil burners, and steam traps.[1]

In the 1910s Phelan invented and developed various forms of the mercury switch, on which he obtained 52 patents. In 1920 he formed the Absolute Con-Tac-Tor Corporation to manufacture and market contactor mercury switches.[2] Through a series of mergers, this technology became an important early product of Honeywell.[3]

In 1928, Phelan became head of the Taylor Freezer Corp. (now the Taylor Company),[4] a manufacturer of conventional and soft serve commercial ice cream freezers. In 1946 he organized more than 40 of Taylor's employees as Tekni-Craft, one of America's first worker cooperatives, to which he sold Taylor's manufacturing and distribution rights.[5] Phelan also invented the "Zest-O-Mat" frozen custard freezer and founded Zesto Products Dairy, which grew into a chain of more than 50 drive-in restaurants.[6]

From 1936 to 1949 he operated a manufacturer of X-ray tubes.

In the early 1950s, approximately the same time as Colonel Harlan Sanders began franchising his KFC restaurant chain, Phelan developed the broasting method of cooking chicken, for which he invented a modified commercial-grade pressure cooker.[clarification needed] He founded the Broaster Company in 1954 to manufacture and market the machines.


  1. ^ Flavor-Fast Foods. "Broaster's Founder...LAM Phelan". Archived from the original on August 7, 2013. Retrieved May 26, 2007.
  2. ^ Minnesota Historical Society. "HONEYWELL INC.: An Inventory of Its Records at the Minnesota Society". Archived from the original on March 17, 2007. Retrieved May 26, 2007.
  3. ^ Honeywell. "Our History". Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved May 26, 2007.
  4. ^ "L.A.M. Phelan, Broaster Company Founder". Genuine Broaster Chicken. Retrieved November 30, 2021.
  5. ^ Taylor Company. "About Us: Taylor's History". Retrieved May 26, 2007.
  6. ^ Piersol, Richard (April 9, 2007). "Local couple settle over restaurant name". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved May 26, 2007.

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