Stouffer's is a Nestlé brand of frozen prepared foods available in the United States and Canada. Stouffer's is known for such popular fare as lasagna, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, ravioli, and salisbury steak. It also produces a line of reduced-fat products under the banner Lean Cuisine.
The Stouffer family business traces its roots to 1914 when Abraham E. Stouffer and his father started the Medina County Creamery in Medina County, Ohio, and also a dairy stand at Cleveland's Sheriff Street Market. In 1916, Abraham and his wife, Lena, moved to the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood, to manage the creamery business, and in 1922, Abraham resigned as president of the creamery to manage one of the company's dairy stands located on the lower floor of the Cleveland Arcade. The Stouffers converted the operation into a restaurant which served buttermilk, sandwiches, and Lena Stouffer's homemade dutch apple pie (credited by some as the reason for the almost instant success of the restaurant). They opened an additional restaurant on East Ninth Street in the city, called the Stouffer Lunch, and incorporated the business as Stouffer Lunch System in 1924. As time went on, the couple continued the program of expansion with the assistance of their sons Vernon, a graduate of the Wharton School of Finance, and Gordon, who together led the reorganization of the business, taking it public as the Stouffer Corporation in 1929 with Abraham as chairman of the board.
The year 1929 also marked the beginning of the company's effort to establish locations outside of Ohio with the opening of a restaurant in Detroit, Michigan, and one in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After Abraham's death in 1936 the company continued its program of expansion by opening its first restaurant in New York City and eventually began a program of diversification, entering the frozen food business in 1946. In 1960 the company, formally renamed Stouffer Foods Corporation in 1956, purchased its first hotel, the Anacapri Inn of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and, by the end of that year, the company was composed of three divisions: Stouffer Foods Corporation, Stouffer Hotels Corporation, and Stouffer Restaurants Corporation. In 1961, Stouffer’s opens two short-lived automated vending restaurants. Stouffer's took over this complex of restaurants with the shared kitchen (Plaza Pavilion). In 1962 Stouffer's Disneyland hosted Plaza Pavilion, Tahitian Terrace, and French Market Restaurant. In 1967, Stouffer Corporation was purchased by Litton Industries for vertical integration purposes, when that company had a large share of the microwave oven market, but in 1973, Litton sold Stouffer to Nestlé. In 1993, Nestlé announced its intention to sell Stouffer Hotels to Renaissance Hotels as part of a refocusing of the company on food products. The transaction was complete by 1996. Some Stouffer's Restaurants are now Select Restaurants.
Stouffer's has a variety of different refrigerated product options for consumers, taking into account their different taste preferences and how many people they are eating with. They offer foods in both individual and family-size portions. A full list of Stouffer's products can be found on the Products page of their website.
In 1935, three black patrons received their meals smothered in salt. The manager asserted that all Stouffer’s meals are “highly seasoned.”
In 1991, the Federal Trade Commission issued a complaint that Stouffer Foods had misrepresented sodium content in their Lean Cuisine entrees by stating that they were low in sodium. Stouffer's argued that the campaign had focused on good taste and controlled sodium, fat, and calories. They also argued that the sodium claim was relative, reflecting a lower amount of sodium, not necessarily that the entrees were low sodium. However, the Administrative Law Judge ruled in favor of the Federal Trade Commission.
In 2003, Applebee's sued Stouffer's for trademark infringement of their marketing term "Skillet Sensations" back in 1997. Applebee's had a line of "Skillet Sensations" of their own and claimed that it caused confusion for customers that believed the Stouffer's line was linked to theirs. The U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled in favor of Applebee's.
On March 14, 2011, a recall was placed on Lean Cuisine spaghetti and meatballs. Consumers reported finding pieces of plastic in their meals, and subsequently over 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg) of the product were recalled.
On March 10, 2016, a limited number of Stouffer’s products were voluntarily recalled on the suspicion that they contained small pieces of glass.
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