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 SOLON, Ohio, Sept. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Stouffer Foods Corporation will celebrate 25 years of production at its Solon, Ohio, manufacturing facility this weekend with an Anniversary Open House for employees and their families on Sunday, Sept. 19.
 The company was founded in Cleveland in 1954. It was at the Stouffer's first suburban restaurant (in the Shaker Square area of Cleveland) that Manager Wally Blankinship responded to customers' requests that he freeze popular menu items, like Macaroni & Cheese and Spinach Souffle, to take home.
 Blankinship recognized the growing potential of frozen food, and sold the items at a retail outlet called the 227 Club, located adjacent to the Shaker Square restaurant. Suddenly, the Stouffer family was in the frozen food business, with products well-suited to America's changing lifestyles. The demand for high-quality convenience foods led to the company's construction in 1968 of a state-of-the-art production facility in Solon, one of the most highly automated and modern operations of its kind.
 The company's operations have expanded through the years with the opening of a production facility in Gaffney, S.C., in 1980 and another in Springville, Utah, in 1987. Today, the company employs 4,000 people nationwide.
 The company is the nation's leading manufacturer and marketer of premium-quality, frozen prepared foods with more than 150 retail items available in supermarkets and other retail outlets across the country.
 The Stouffer story began in 1922 when Abraham and Mahala Stouffer left their creamery business in Medina, Ohio, and opened a small stand- up dairy counter in an arcade in downtown Cleveland. Featuring wholesome buttermilk, fresh-brewed coffee, three types of sandwiches and Mrs. Stouffer's own deep-dish Dutch apple pies, the modest enterprise was an immediate success.
 With the help of their son Vernon, a graduate of the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, the Stouffers opened their first restaurant, called Stouffer Lunch, in 1924. Housed in the Citizens Building in Cleveland, the restaurant's popularity spurred the expansion of new restaurants in Detroit and Pittsburgh. When Gordon, the Stouffers' younger son, joined the family business, a second restaurant was built in Detroit. Growth continued even during the Depression; by 1937 the family had opened their first restaurant in New York.
 With a keen understanding of customer needs and a firm dedication to quality, the Stouffer name quickly became synonymous with good taste and friendly service. The Stouffer family adopted the motto, "Everybody is somebody at Stouffer's," and treated customers with warm, family-style hospitality.
 After World War II, as families were moving to the suburbs, the Stouffer restaurants followed. The Stouffers opened their first suburban restaurant in the Shaker Square area of Cleveland, a move that would set them on yet another business course. It was there that Manager Wally Blankinship responded to customers' requests that he freeze popular menu items, like Macaroni & Cheese and Spinach Souffle, to take home.
 Blankinship recognized the growing potential of frozen food, and sold the items at a retail outlet called the 227 Club located adjacent to the restaurant. Suddenly, the Stouffer family was in the frozen food business.
 In the early 1950s, typical frozen dinners consisted of peas, potatoes, a few small pieces of chicken or a beef patty. There was clearly room at the top for a new kind of high quality frozen food; room the Stouffers knew how to fill. Stouffer Foods Corporation was officially christened at the opening of a downtown Cleveland production plant in 1954.
 By perfecting its recipes for decades within its own restaurants, Stouffer Foods was able to offer frozen entrees and side dishes superior in taste and convenience. The products were well-suited to America's changing lifestyles. More and more women were working outside the home and the increasing number of one- and two-member households created a great need for high-quality convenience foods. To help meet this demand, the company built a state-of-the-art production facility, one of the most highly automated and modern operations of its kind, on a 42-acre site in Solon in 1968.
 Stouffer Foods insisted on using only the finest ingredients, which ensured the best taste for its frozen prepared foods. That dedication to quality is why Stouffer's(R) products were selected by the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration to feed the quarantined Apollo 11, 12 and 14 astronauts following their historic trips to the moon. Stouffer's advertising at the time aptly claimed, "Everybody who's been to the moon is eating Stouffer's."
 The frozen food company's success so impressed Nestle S.A., the world's largest food company, that it acquired Stouffer Foods in 1973. Nestle had become well-known for its dedication to quality, value and customer satisfaction as well as its commitment to long-term growth, decentralized management and employee development.
 With the aid of Nestle and its abundant resources, Stouffer Foods continued its own growth and quality reputation. To keep pace with growing consumer demand, Stouffer Foods increased its production capacity by building two new frozen foods plants in Gaffney, S.C., in 1980, and in Springville, Utah, in 1987.
 By the early 1980s, Stouffer Foods had become the nation's leading manufacturer of premium-quality, frozen prepared foods.
 The company hit its real growth spurt in 1981, however, with the introduction of the enormously successful Stouffer's Lean Cuisine(R) line. Revolutionizing frozen foods, Stouffer's Lean Cuisine set the industry standard for calorie-controlled entrees with fewer than 300 calories per serving. The product was perfect for America's consumers who were hungry for quality, taste, convenience and nutrition in frozen food, but with fewer calories.
 Because of its popularity, Stouffer's expanded its Lean Cuisine line, which now includes more than 50 varieties of entrees and French Bread pizzas. In 1991, Stouffer Foods reformulated the entrees -- reducing fat, sodium, and cholesterol levels -- making Lean Cuisine the best-tasting, best choice for health-conscious consumers.
 Stouffer Foods continues to develop new products to meet the needs of today's consumers. As the decade opened, the company introduced HomeStyle Entrees, 13 traditional items with basic hearty appeal such as Meatloaf in Gravy with Whipped Potatoes. In 1992, Stouffer's introduced Family-Size and Party-Size versions of its most popular items, including Macaroni and Cheese and Lasagna with Meat Sauce. In addition, the Stouffer's line was expanded with innovative products like stuffed pasta entrees and topped biscuits and potatoes.
 Meanwhile, Stouffer's Lean Cuisine ushered in the decade by introducing Macaroni and Cheese. It quickly became the best-selling item in the line. In 1992, the Lean Cuisine line was also expanded with eight new entrees, four of them offering consumers meatless options.
 To further improve the nutritional profile, the company switched from corn to canola oil for Lean Cuisine food preparation. And Lean Cuisine French Bread Pizzas were also reformulated to reduce fat, sodium and cholesterol levels.
 To provide a more contemporary look and better overall branding for Stouffer's Entrees, French Bread Pizzas and Lean Cuisine products, the company introduced a new logo in 1992 to replace the traditional Dutch oven that graced its packages since the mid-50s.
 The new black oval and red sash logo is part of a packaging redesign that includes improved food photography on the front, and simplified cooking instructions in larger, more readable typeface as well as the toll-free 800 number of Stouffer's Consumer Information Center on the back.
 Another significant addition is that of nutritional labeling on all Stouffer's Entree and Pizza packaging, which provides consumers with the information they need to follow a well-balanced diet. Lean Cuisine packages continue to supply health-conscious consumers with nutritional data in a simplified but informative manner that displays the entrees' reduced levels of fat, sodium and cholesterol.
 In 1993, the company introduced Stouffer's Lunch Express(TM), a sub- brand of Stouffer's Entrees, and Stouffer's Lean Cuisine Lunch Express, a sub-brand of Stouffer's Lean Cuisine Entrees. The 24 new products, intended for lunchtime consumption, are packaged in easy-open, paperboard containers that can be microwaved in about five minutes for "eat-from-the-package" convenience and portability.
 Lunch Express is yet another example of the innovation and leadership first espoused by company founder Vernon Stouffer. Stouffer was posthumously inducted into the National Frozen Food Association Frozen Food Hall of Fame in 1992 in recognition for his significant contributions to the frozen food industry.
 Today, Stouffer Foods Corporation, a Nestle company, is headquartered in the Cleveland suburb of Solon, and currently employs more than 4,000 people nationwide. It markets more than 150 Entrees, French Bread Pizzas and Lean Cuisine products for consumer enjoyment.
 -0- 9/15/93
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: Photos or video footage are available on request from Roz O'Hearn of Stouffer Foods Corporation, 216-349-5757, ext. 5612./
 /CONTACT: Roz O'Hearn or Loretta Ivany of Stouffer Foods, 216-349-5757; or Madalyn Freund or Lisa Doherty of Ruder-Finn, 312-644-8600, for Stouffer Foods/

CO: Stouffer Foods Corporation ST: Ohio IN: FOD SU:

AR -- CL021 -- 2362 09/15/93 15:45 EDT
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Date:Sep 15, 1993

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