This Foley food mill in the collection at Hennepin History Museum was one of Foley Manufacturing Company’s most popular products. Foley was founded in 1926 by Walter M. Ringer. When he introduced the food mill in 1934 it was immediately popular, but that was only the beginning of a long line of innovative kitchen utensils and housewares. Our collection includes some of those lesser known Foley Mfg. Co. inventions that were patented by Hennepin County residents.
This small flour sifter, which could be operated with one hand, was patented by Freeman E. Collier in 1934. Collier was superintendent at Foley for twenty-six years. This flour sifter was an improved an ordinary flour sifter in several ways. In his patent, Collier explains that existing flour sifters at the time were large, heavy, poorly designed, and difficult to use. He goes on to write, “It is an object of this invention to overcome these objections and to provide an improved flour sifter that will be light in weight, yet strong and durable, well balanced and easy to use, capable of being manipulated by one hand, and in all more satisfactory than devices heretofore available.”
Collier’s confidence in his invention may have been misplaced, as it turns out there wasn’t a huge need for flour sifters that could be operated with one hand. However similar products and new versions of it can still be found on the market today. While Foley Mfg. Co. is no longer an active concern, it left behind many patents for inventions by innovative Hennepin County residents like Collier.
Written by Alyssa Thiede
Collier, Freeman E. Flour Sifter. U.S. Patent 2,326,761 filed October 7, 1940, and issued August 17, 1943.
Hart, Mary. “Foley Wares Awarded Six Design Prizes.” Minneapolis Tribune, June 14, 1966. Star Tribune Archive.
Morris, Margaret. “Lucille Barbery is Key Cog in Company,” Minneapolis Tribune, August 15, 1954. Star Tribune Archive.
This publication was made possible in part by the people of Minnesota through a grant funded by an appropriation to the Minnesota Historical Society from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Any views, findings, opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the State of Minnesota, the Minnesota Historical Society, or the Minnesota Historic Resources Advisory Committee.