Oscar F. Mayer
|Oscar F. Mayer|
|Born||Oscar Ferdinand Mayer
March 29, 1859
Neresheim, Württemberg, Germany
|Died||March 11, 1955
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Known for||Founder of Oscar Mayer|
|Spouse(s)||Louise Greiner (m. 1887)|
|Children||4 (including Oscar G. Mayer Sr.)|
Early life and career
Mayer was born in Kösingen (now part of Neresheim), Württemberg, Germany, where his family had been foresters and ministers for generations. He emigrated to the United States as a teenager and moved to Detroit to live with a cousin. He worked in that city's meat market and moved to Chicago in 1876 when his cousin moved there. Mayer found work at a meat market on Chicago's North Side and started a butcher and sausage-making shop of his own in 1883, when he was 24 years old. Five years later, the proprietor who owned the store refused to renew Mayer's lease, hoping that he could profit from Mayer's business success. Pushed out on his own, Mayer bought a property and constructed a two-story building for his business and family. He married the former Louise Greiner of Munich in 1887, and their only son was born in that building.
With the company's continued growth, it became a sponsor of such events as polka bands and the German exhibition at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. The company had grown to 43 employees in 1900, offering meat delivered across the city of Chicago and its suburbs. Capitalizing on an industry trend, the company started using its own brands for its meat products in 1904 and was one of the earliest participants in the Food Safety and Inspection Service, created under the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906, to verify the contents of its products. By the time of his death, the business named after himself had grown to 9,000 employees, with facilities in Davenport, Iowa, Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Philadelphia.
After being ill for six weeks, he died in his sleep at age 95 on March 11, 1955, at his home, 5727 North Sheridan Road, in Chicago, with his son and successor Oscar G. Mayer, Sr. and his three daughters at his bedside. His wife died in 1931.
His great-grandson and heir Chuck Collins is an economist and philanthropist.
- Staff. "Oscar Mayer, 95, A Chicago Packer: Founder of Meat Concern Dies - Built Chain From Small Butcher Store", The New York Times, March 12, 1955. Accessed July 8, 2009.
- The 124 YEAR History of “Oscar Mayer” Foods, The International Food Products Group Ltd. Accessed July 8, 2009.