Pet Evaporated Milk

Here is a history of Pet milk published in the Northside Journal in Jerome, Idaho.  It provides some history of Pet Milk, aka Sego Milk.  They also had a plant in Richmond, Utah, which is where my Grandfather, Norwood Jonas worked until it closed about 1967.

Pet Evaporated Milk

Buhl, ID

Compiled by Earl Gilmartin

Condensed History Pet Evaporated Milk Corporation


1885- It started with an idea of canning as a preservative in the small town of Highland, Illinois. After a $15,000 investment the Helvetia Milk Condensing Company was born (later to be renamed PET).

1895 – After overcoming a number of growing pains, more than half the company’s sales were in the West. The “Our PET” trademark is registered and becomes the official name for the company’s leading brand.

1898 – “Our PET” helps supply Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders and other.

American fighting troops with a safe and convenient  source of milk in Spanish-American War. At war’s end, the troops scattered home across the U.S. and many, remembering the high quality milk, brought it home to their families.

1914 – Once again, the U.S. government places large orders of PET to supply  U.S. troops fighting overseas in World War I.

1929 – In the midst of the Great Depression PET becomes an important staple to American families and is able to expand its service to consumers with the creation of original recipes using PET products.

1941 – Again, PET is called upon to supply GIs fighting in World War II, as well as the citizens at home. More recipes, specifically designed with rationing limitations in mind are created to help families get a wholesome diet.

1950 – the combination of post-war prosperity and a baby boom result in more cans of PET Milk being sold than any other time in company’s 65-year history. PET also establishes its own test kitchens to develop and test new products and recipes.

1966 – PET began making “better for you” products including a Skimmed Milk and a 99% Fat Free Evaporated Skim Milk.

Today – PET Evaporated Milk continues to be a staple in millions of homes and is used in many different homes and is used in many different recipes, from main dishes, to soups, desserts and more.

We invite you to try the recipes on this site to create sensational food for your family!

Early History Pet Evaporated Milk

John Baptist Meyenberg (1847-1914) was an operator at the Anglo-Swiss milk condenser at Cham, Switzerland. Anglo-Swiss made sweetened condensed milk.

From 1866 through 1883, Meyenberg experimented with preservation of milk without the use of sugar. He discovered that condensed milk would last longer if heated to 120 C (248 F) in a sealed container, and hence could be preserved without adding sugar. When Anglo-Swiss declined to implement Meyenberg’s work, he resigned from the company and emigrated to the United States. John Meyenbert first moved to St. Louis, but soon transferred to Highland, Illinois , due to its large Swiss population. On 25 November 1884, U.S. Patents 308,421 (Apparatus for Preserving Milk) and 308,422 (Process for Preserving Milk) were issued to Meyenberg.  Meyenburg associated with various local merchants, including John Wildi, Louis Latzer, Dr. Knoebel, George Roth and Fred Kaeser and, on February 14, 1885, organized the Helvetia Milk Condensing Company. In 1899, Meyenberg assisted Elbridge Amos Stuart in producing Carnation Evaporated Milk.

John Wildi was instrumental in marketing the product nationally and internationally, especially in areas where fresh milk or refrigeration were scarce. In 1895, the company registered the Pet trademark.

The Sterling company of Twin Falls leases the Buhl Creamery facility for one year.  TFTN 11-11-1911

A transaction of importance to the dairymen of Buhl county was consummated on Saturday afternoon of last week when the Sterling Creamery Co of Twin Falls, secured by lease for a period of one year, the plant, business and good will of the Buhl Creamery, Milk Condensing, Cheese Manufacturing company of this city. The consideration was highly satisfactory and most remunerative to the local company, guaranteeing, as it does, a substantial market, paying a liberal consideration for the business and being in effect for a period of only one year.

Early History Pet Evaporated Milk

Funding universe

During the Spanish-American and First World wars, the U.S. government ordered huge supplies of evaporated milk, spurring Helvetia to build a second plant in Greenville, Illinois. By 1918 the company had a total of ten production sites in the Midwest, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. As World War I ended, Helvetia closed plants due to oversupply, reluctantly pulling out of western markets. Latzer sold the excess milk to St. Louis businessmen, who turned to him in 1920 when a strike by the local milk producers association limited the brokers’ supplies. The St. Louis strikers also convinced the Highland area farmers to strike, however , and Latzer was forced to close the plant.

By early 1921, Latzer’s son John ran Helvetia from its reestablied headquarters in nearby St. Louis. In 1923, Helvetica was renamed Pet Milk Company, after its best-selling evaporated milk brand.

Health & Home TFTN 7-3-1925

Many people are wont to confuse evaporated and condensed milk, but there is no similarity between the two. Condensed milk is a combination of sugar and milk and can be used only when both of these substances are desired. Evaporated milk is with about sixty per cent of the water removed and the nutrients content left intact.

Pet evaporated milk manufactured in Buhl, & other locations in the United States at the turn of the century.

Six Tons of Milk Received each day by Buhl Dairy Plant

TFDaily News 10-29-1927

About 12,000 lb of milk per day is being received at the Sego condenser which when evaporated makes 5760 tall cans. The product is being stored for the present at the plant.

Pet Milk became traded on the NY Stock exchange 1928

Funding Universe Our Dairy Industry TFIT 6-11-1929 aka Twin Falls Idaho Times

The phenomenal increase in dairying in Idaho is vividly set forth by figures just made public by Idaho Chamber of Commerce in its organization publication for June. Evaporated milk production in 1928 was 1,585,000 lbs, a gain of more then 4,000,000 lbs over 1927.

Employment for Additional 20 Seen; Better Times Indicated

TFIT 5-23-1933 aka Twin Falls Idaho Times

J Frank Smith field director and former manager of the Buhl plant, with E G Meyer production manager, have been supervising the overhauling of the machinery preparatory to opening the condensery. Floyd Englen, local manger, stated about 20 persons will be added to the pay roll.

The opening of the Buhl plant in addition to furnishing added employment will also serve as an outlet for the West End dairy products.

Pet Milk bought Sego Milk Products out of Salt Lake city in 1925, to expand it’s market.

Pet Evaporated Milk Peaked in 1950.

Funding Universe

After World War II Pet Milk began a slight movement into other markets. The company became the first to offer nonfat dry milk, and advance over the powdered milk developed in the 1920s. Sales soared due to the post-war baby boom, making 1950 the all-time-high sales year for Pet Evaporated Milk. Soon thereafter, fresh milk became readily available, however, and sales began a steady decline.

Pet Evaporated Milk diversifies in 1960’s

Funding Universe

Through restructuring, Pet Milk corporate reduced committee numbers, initiated a profit-centered divisional structure, and recruited marketing professionals. The company also planned new product development to wean itself from the declining milk market (as late as 1960, 95 percent of Pet Milk sales were in dairy products). By the early 1960s, diversification had begun in earnest.

Another of Pet Milk’s successful products at this time was Sego Liquid Diet Food, introduced in 1961. After competitors had opened up a market, Pet Milk brought in its own version, a thicker, high-protein drink available in variety of flavors. By 1965 Sego brought in $22 million to the company’s Milk Products Division sales.

In 1966, in order to reflect its enlarged and diversified product line, Pet Milk changed its name to Pet Incorporated.

Funding for these acquisitions came largely from a special credit Pet obtained through the sale of its portion of General Milk Co., a joint venture

Buhl Evaporated Milk to Close (1995 TFTN)

The bulk of this article is based on TFTN articles.

Buhl’s evaporated milk plant – which has provided Magic Valley jobs for 68 years will close June 20. Pillsbury Co executives told 64 workers Thursday morning that they’re shutting the plant which produces evaporated milk as a cost saving measure.

That means 300,000 fewer gallons of milk will be passing through Buhl each day. And a plant that each day produced 5000 cases of canned milk will be vacant. Eventually, the plant will be sold.

Evaporated milk production will shift to a company cannery in Greeneville, TN. But chances are slim that displaced workers will get to follow their jobs back East.


Visit from Grands

This week brought some happy differences from the mundane run.  Not at all to give the impression that life is mundane though.  The longer I live, the more I realize it is just like beauty, all in the life of the beholder.  There are those people wandering their lives thinking they are a nobody and with nothing great in their character or soul.  Then there are those people who find fascination, excitement, and life in all there is about them.  They are a different breed.

Somehow, I feel like in Richmond, I walk through a load of people with no excitement in their lives.  Life is a labyrinth for them to wander and walk.  There are so few who are in it for the game, and the experience.

The great Samuel Clemens, a fascinating man.  One who watched the every move of those about him with great detail.  Their every movement captured their personality for him.  That is one of the things that made him such a great writer.  He was able to take those little details and wind them into a story and make the characters that much more real. 

Suppose it would be the experience of the riverboat pilot which would teach you even more closely to watch the details of the water.  The slightest quiver could mean life or death.  Just his assumed name of Mark Twain shows a certain yearning.

Earlier this week I was able to pick the brain of a man who I found to be very fascinating.  A silent man in the past, but who gave voice this week.  I wanted to hear his story.  So I started to inquire and found some wonderful stories.

Having William Borah fresh on my mind, I was thinking of the honour of the President of the United States coming to visit you in your home state.  Senator Borah toured with him and introduced him to all audiences that he was presented before.  For some reason this has really lingered with me the past weeks.  President Roosevelt paying one of the greatest honours to a man of the opposite party.  President Franklin Roosevelt went to Republican Idaho and toured with its Senator.  It also showed the distinction of Senator Borah.  This really has hit home with the latest election.

So it was with greatest delight that I wandered through the mind and history of Mel Thompson.  Learning he moved with his family to Nyssa, Oregon in the mid 30’s.  They moved up there and basically homesteaded a new territory.  Knowing many of my own family would move to that same area within the next 10 years I really sought to pick his brain. 

Family history and my delving into history met ironically in the mind of Mel.  He told of the experience when he was still in school that the President of the United States came to town.  Yes sir, little Nyssa, Oregon welcomed the President.  I knew who one of the men was who traveled with him, the same Senator Borah.

These stories come to life for me when I can go to the places these events happened.  But they come so much more alive when I know a person and can learn from firsthand experience.  Like sitting on the porch of the Price home in Malad, Idaho where Senator Borah visited with Helen Daniels Price’s father.

Having been to Nyssa several times in my life, the latest just in 2005 when I traveled out there with a visit to Parma.  The Amalgamated Sugar Factory, with which Dad was closely tied for a good 25 years.  Cannot forget the Sharp family members who moved, and some of which still live in Malheur County.  The Fort Boise replica is not far away either.  Oh, and the elusive Rhoda Christensen Davenport Pappas Halan who wrote letters from there, but that is the end of the story.  I have found no more.

All truth can be circumscribed into one great whole.  That truth certainly extends beyond the theoretical.  That truth engulfs us into it as well.  Funny thought, to consider ourselves the truth, but in essence all things are truth.  Whether we like or live it or not; even our lying is in truth and will be treated as such.  Our lives mingle, intertwine, and are very much related to each other.  How could one ever conceive that their actions don’t affect another?  President Roosevelt, Senator Borah, and in the school yard where the children were let out from class to go out to the street to see the President’s motorcade prove that point.  One of those children had a face, had a personality, and had the name of Melvin J Thompson.

Last weekend, we went to Washington to attend the temple, to see Amanda’s grandparents, and to witness of a baby blessing.  It was a great weekend, but turned even better when Amanda’s grandparents came to stay with us for an evening.  An honour I would be willing to give a lifetime to do with one of my sets of grandparents.  (I suppose I am giving a lifetime to do so!)  It will yet come to pass and I will cherish that day.

We attended the Washington Temple Saturday morning.  Amanda and I were asked to be the witness couple for the session.  That was our second time.  Shanna just thought that was something else.  I wish I could have done an endowment with any of my grandparents, living I mean.  It bothers me even still today my Grandfather, my only living grandparents, chose not to come to our sealing.  For what reason I do not know, and probably prefer not to know.  There again, how woven our lives are together.  That the mere presence, or absence thereof, would so affect me.  What if Mel Thompson had not been in the audience that day?  Who would ever have known?  Nobody would have known, but now I do.  Somehow it rings a siren to my soul and brings back me back to the reality of the past.  It seems so far distant sometimes.  But now that nameless face has altered my life some 70 years later.  Even further, all those who read this will be altered to one degree or another, by this events significance.  That says nothing of all the other individuals present that day.  How many of them told that experience later in life, how many wrote it down, how many family members recall that event today.  I would venture that at least one somewhere, somehow, even if from a recorded record.

Our families were tied a little more closely that day in Washington and the following convo.  The drive back to Richmond brought out the stories of childhood in Pingree, Idaho; Nyssa, Oregon; and Ogden, Utah.  The stories included excursions to the Pacific and World War II and running into Mel’s brother at Pearl Harbor from Air Craft Carrier #77 to his training at Farragut in northern Idaho.  His missing attendance at the Laie, Hawaii Temple by one day was told followed by his bouts in learning telegraphy for the railroad.  Even those appear to be the most ordinary have a life to tell.  Sadly, it is in the eye of the storyteller that plays just as much of a role as that of the listener.  The listener has to seek and find connections, living what is true empathy.  In return, the speaker has to give of himself in such a way for the other to experience it. 

Is it any wonder the gospel works the way it does?  Not only does one have to be prepared to receive, but the giver has to be prepared to give.  Otherwise neither will give nor receive and both will most certainly not be edified.  One side operating just doesn’t work.  It falls on deaf ears, or is droned out before even arriving at the other party.

Too often there are those who are giving for the wrong reasons make it strained.  Those who seek it for the wrong reasons ruin the experience.

Anyhow, it was a fascinating lesson, and I was able to come and grasp some more of the 60’s.  I have really struggled coming to understand the 70’s and 70’s.  I just cannot tell why.  Even though I was born in the late 70’s, there seems to have been some type of disconnect.I have been fully engulfed in Richmond, Utah in 1961 and 1962 through the eyes of Lillian Coley Jonas Bowcutt.  The lifestyle of a lady in her 60’s though just does not seem to portray the era.  Especially this is true in a community which was still very rural and in some ways behind the times.  I just cannot seem to get the culture of the time.  50’s, 40’s, 30’s, I feel like I have a very good grasp, like experiencing through proxy.  In stepping backwards farther, I struggle to back further and feel it is due to the 60’s and 70’s.  Honestly though, I have not much desire for that time.  I don’t know why.  So I push further back into the 20’s and 1800’s without it. 

Anyhow, I never really got to pick Shanna’s brain much.  I got Mel on such a roll that he was not about to give up his shine.  We both were so enjoying it while the others just slept, knitted, or did something else.  So I regret not picking apart Shanna’s past, which I am sure holds many interesting experiences and stories.  Perhaps another day, with the right experiences will open that book.

They spent the night, and we had breakfast together before Amanda went to school and I went to work.  Mel, Shanna, Dennis, and Gwen toured the Museum of the Confederacy and St. John’s Church.  We invited them for dinner, of which they accepted.  We made white chili for their dinner.  They loved it, we put it over rice with corn.  In the end, games and conversation were out as Dennis seemed not very desirous to stay.  So we bid them adieu and wished them well on their drive home.

It was an experience I will not soon forget.  It is a rare thing such experiences happen.  So much has to align for such events to occur.  A man I had viewed as so quiet proved to be very perceptive, keen, and wise.

I don’t like the tone of this little blog, so I think I will be leaving.  I feel like I am condescending or portraying some type of sage.  Which I am not attempting, but failing.  I am so weak at words it is frustration.  What I would not give to have the power and verse of Mark Twain or Hugh Nibley.

Finally some time to read

Life is great. I have not any complaints in the world. I get off work at 4:30 in the afternoon. Just in time to pick up Amanda from school if I need
to. The tank of petrol in the car has already lasted over a week. The miles on the car don’t even seem to be adding. I love my job. I love what I am doing. I have a corner office. I am now promoted as of today. Life is looking pretty darn good to me. Now if I can just get hired on full time….Another highlight about all of this is that I have time for more personal things. The Lord has poured a veritable landslide on me in regards to family history. The past week alone has kept me swamped in trying to keep up with family history. The Sharp door has opened and fully unleashed some of its storehouse. I stumbled on the first pictures I have ever seen of my Great Grandparents, John William Ross (Jack) and his wife Ethel Sharp. I found links, contacts, even spoke with members of the family who personally knew them. Photos have come from left and right. On top of it all, I received about 50 documents, all original, of correspondence on the Andra/Wanner/Schneider line from Germany. They are all in the German so I have to find a translator, but I have not even started that pile.

The time has been wonderful. It is like the old story of the treasure hunter who was introduced to the cave of mountains of treasure. It all laid before him, and yet there was one clause to the entry. I could only take one thing. That is how I feel. Every moment of every day, there is only
one thing I can do, and i might never have the opportunity again. Great Aunt June to interview. I arranged for Dad and Grandpa to go down to
Victorville, California to visit with her. Grandpa has not seen his own sister for over 50 years. Her daughter is going to start interviewing her for me. She asked me to give her a list of questions I want asked. She should have asked for the host of questions I want to ask.

I finally have time to finish typing up my Great Grandmother’s journals (on my mother’s line) I have typed up another 3 months of her 1962, which has been very interesting. From earthquakes in Richmond and Salt Lake City to my mother losing her finger at Dr. Gibbons office in Lewiston, Utah. These journals are more valuable just to me than I could ever have imagined. Never would I have thought my family would have played so central to some of the stories that are unfolding.

Despite all that I am learning through what is being heaped upon me in family history is the rest of the time I have for personal things. I can
run two or three times a week if I choose. I don’t have the motivation up there just yet, but it is coming. But my passion, my favorite, the
opportunity to read.

I read Borah by McKenna about Senator William Edgar Borah. Who now ranks as my all time favorite politican of all time. Wheeler ranked up there, but there is something akin to godliness in Borah. Which is attested of what happened at his death. They held a funeral for him in the Senate Chamber, but nobody spoke. President Roosevelt opened the solemn assembly, and closed it. Nobody spoke because they believed there was nothing to say. This man had lived it. He was known to all, the whole country over. Europe, Germany, and Russia even paid their respects despite what was happening. He had a whole train dedicated and given to take him home to Idaho. He laid in state in Idaho and the stories of that. I wept at the end. It was as if my own friend had died. What a powerful man.

This week I also read Morris K Udall’s book, Too Funny to be President. Another great book. Another good man. It was interesting to read of him.
He reminded me so much of Cecil Andrus, and then when he talked of Andrus, I was honoured. The book was not so much about Udall as I would have liked, but I sure enjoyed the read. One of my favorites, “If Abraham Lincoln was alive today, he would be turning in his grave.”

I also read Mafia to Mormon today. That was a very interesting read. Not talking of great literature here, but I am glad I read it. The editor should be fired, but I enjoyed it.

So it is. I feel like I have a life that has been given to me. What is even better, I am making more money than slaving those long hours. Who could ask for more. What will life bring next?

Time to close for the night.

Lunch with History

Out to lunch.  What an amazing lunch.  Just had lunch with a man who worked as a personal associate to a former Governor of Idaho, Cecil D Andrus.  Marc Johnson was the Press Secretary and Chief of Staff to Governor Andrus.  What a fascinating lunch.  Marc is currently writing a book on Senator Wheeler of Montana.  Wat a great discussion.  We discussed Senator Borah, Senator R Smoot, Senator Thomas, Senator Church, Governor Kempthorne, President Wilson, President F Roosevelt, Governor Steunenberg, Governor Ross and more.  We discussed politics in Idaho, Utah, Montana, and the US.  Chatted about the current Supreme Court appointment and the state of the court.  It was all fascinating.  He let me borrow a book on Idaho Governors.  Also a newspaper clipping on the 1936 race of Borah and Ross.  There is so much to learn and so much to gain.  What a history in the specifics of individual lives.  The assassination of Governor Steunenberg.  The political debate in seating Senator Reed Smoot of Utah.  There is so much to learn and do.  Marc also told me of his life and how he came to Boise.  Born in Nebraska and raised in South Dakota.  He came to Boise to work in journalism after his boss transferred from South Dakota to here.  Met his wife here as well.  Interesting how each and every life have their own story.  So much to learn, so little time to do it in.  I have so much to learn.