The historic success of Kraft Foods and its legendary founder began at Chicago’s own Water Street wholesale market more than 100 years ago in 1903. With only $65 and a rented horse-drawn wagon, J. L. Kraft began purchasing cheese and selling it to local merchants. Joined later by three of his brothers the business soon incorporated as J. L. Kraft & Bros. Company. In 1914 the men purchased their first cheese factory in Stockton, Illinois, and only a year later, began their innovative style of producing processed cheese in small tins. After acquiring a patent for the unique process in 1916, the company began supplying tins of cheese to United States armed forces in World War I.
Kraft’s Garland plant opened in 1949 after Kraft purchased the property from Continental Motor Corporation in 1948. It includes more than 675,000 square feet and has seen the production of such varied food items as mustard, margarine, individual condiment packets, chocolate candies, caramels, marshmallows, brittle, and mayonnaise.
Kraft Foods merged with General Foods in 1989 to become Kraft General Foods and in 1995, became Kraft Foods, Inc., and was reorganized into a single operating company. Kraft’s success only continued as it integrated the Nabisco Holdings Corporation into its brands in 2000 and began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in 2001.
Today, the company has maintained its groundbreaking, century-long successes with the addition and acquisition of new products including the family of Nabisco brands. The company has many major brands that are American favorites including Kraft Cheeses and Dinners, Maxwell House, Oscar Mayer, Planters, Jell-O, Kool-Aid and Philadelphia. Twelve of the company’s brands have annual revenues of more than $1 billion and approximately 70 brands have annual revenues of at least $100 million. In Garland, the plant makes barbecue sauce, ready-to-drink beverages including Capri Sun and Kool-Aid Jammers, and pourable salad dressings. The plant will also soon add a new production line for making Velveeta Cheesy Skillets dinner kits.
Today Kraft Foods has an unrivaled portfolio of brands people love. Proudly marketing delicious foods and beverages in approximately 170 countries, the company had 2011 revenue of $54.4 billion. On Aug. 4, 2011, Kraft Foods announced plans to divide and create two independent public companies: a high-growth global snacks business and a high-margin North American grocery business. The transaction is expected to be completed before the end of 2012.