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
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
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.
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
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.