The Famous Golden Guernsey: Ewald Brothers Dairy

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Image from HHM Collections

This insulated box in the collection at Hennepin History Museum once sat on a Minneapolis resident’s porch awaiting the arrival of an Ewald Brothers milkman to come and leave dairy products in it. At one point in time, Ewald Bros. was the largest home delivery dairy in Minneapolis, supplying milk to one out of every three homes. The family business was successful for nearly a century, and it all began with one immigrant’s story. 

Chris Ewald immigrated to Minnesota from Denmark in 1884 with his mother and siblings. For two years Chris worked hard delivering milk in Minneapolis. By 1886 he had saved enough money to purchase a wagon, horse, and route from his employer, thus creating Ewald Bros. with his brother John. What began as a one-horse operation soon expanded to include one hundred horses and forty wagons, which were eventually replaced by a fleet of over 100 refrigerated trucks. 

Ewald Bros. became successful because they were the exclusive retailer of Golden Guernsey brand milk. All the milk produced by the dairy came from purebred Guernsey cattle, which was sought after for its rich flavor due to its high fat content. The company capitalized on this by incorporating an image of the cow into its advertising. The image below from the fifties depicts the Ewald Bros. sign that once stood over Hennepin and Lake Street in Minneapolis.  

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Image from HHM Archives

The last bottle of Ewald Bros. milk was produced in 1982, and the brand would cease to exist by 1986. The company went out of business for several reasons. One key factor was that milk produced by Guernsey cattle fell out of favor with the public when studies showed that milk high in fat was bad for health and could lead to heart disease. Despite this, it is the images of Guernsey cows that live on to tell the story of Ewald Bros. At one point in time, Ewald Bros. billboards were scattered throughout the area. Today, one of those billboards still displays the enormous, three-dimensional heads of a Guernsey bull and a cow at the Minnesota State Fair. The sign, though now used as a landmark of the fair, serves as reminder of family business that brought quality dairy to Hennepin County residents for nearly one hundred years. 

 

Written by Alyssa Thiede 

Sources: 

Crosby, Jackie. “Cows Not Going Out to Pasture, Star Tribune, August 29, 2017. Star Tribune Archive. 

Ewald, William D. Ewald Bros. Dairy. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2017 

http://startribune.newspapers.com/image/183224650 

 

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.

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An Advancement in Audiology: The Maico Audiometer

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Image from HHM Collections

For a short time, one Hennepin County company was the nation’s leading innovator in the field of audiological diagnostic instruments and hearing aids. The device seen here from Hennepin History Museum’s collection is a Maico audiometer that dates to 1940. This device was renowned for being the first of its kind to precisely measure an individual’s hearing, making it possible to accurately diagnose hearing loss.

The Medical Acoustic Instrument Company was founded in Minneapolis in 1937 by Leland A. Watson, and shortly thereafter its name was shortened to the Maico. Watson had graduated from the University of Minnesota, and then became a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University. At Oxford, Watson studied with engineers that were developing new hearing aid technology and equipment. When Watson returned to Minnesota, he brought with him this innovative technology and founded his company. His expertise in the field led to the development of the Maico audiometer. Just a few years after the formation of the company, ninety percent of the audiometers in the country were made by Maico. It was used by audiologists in hospitals, clinics, and universities nationwide, as well as the U.S. Army and Navy, and even some foreign governments.

Since Watson’s time, his company has been acquired and is currently operated by an overseas hearing healthcare company. Today, many audiological diagnostic instruments still bear the name Maico, which is a testament to the innovative developments in the field that were started by Watson and his company.

 

Written by Alyssa Thiede

Sources:

“America’s Ears Tested on Minneapolis Instruments,” Minneapolis Tribune, April 14, 1941. Star Tribune Archive.

“Maico Used at Purdue University,” Minneapolis Star, July 5, 1941. Star Tribune Archive.

“The Mayor at Maico,” Minneapolis Star, May 12, 1941. 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.

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Short and Sweet: A Brief History of Egekvist Bakeries

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Image from HHM Collections

Egekvist Bakeries was a beloved local business for several decades. With bake shops and retail locations all over the Twin Cities, Egekvist became synonymous with Scandinavian desserts. The story of Egekvist Bakeries is told at Hennepin History Museum through this box of chocolates. Long since emptied of its contents, the box is a reminder of an immigrant family’s story of innovation and success in the Twin Cities. 

Valdemar A. Egekvist was born in Denmark in 1885 and immigrated to Minnesota in 1904. In 1908, he and his wife opened the very first Egekvist Bakery in Minneapolis on East Franklin Avenue. Valdemar’s brother joined him in 1914 and came to work at the family business. Both brothers were master bakers, having learned from their father in Denmark. Egekvist Bakeries became popular around the Twin Cities, eventually growing to over seventy retail locations. 

Valdemar helped pioneer the way bake shops did business. He was one of the first bakers to develop branch retail locations. Egekvist did all its baking in one central location, where quality and uniformity could be controlled. Then the goods were distributed to bake shops and grocery stores. Egekvist’s presence in grocery stores was another innovative merchandising strategy. Beginning in 1948, baked goods were sold under the Egekvist brand in self-service stations within large grocery chains. At the time this was a new concept that proved to extremely successful for the company. 

Valdemar passed away in 1958 and passed the business on to his son Christian. According to Christian, his father’s success was simply due to “old fashioned bakemanship and modern merchandising.” Ultimately, he sold the business in the sixties, and eventually the brand disappeared from shelves. Now the Egekvist name lives on in the memories of those where who were lucky enough to enjoy their breads, cakes, pastries, and other treats.  

 

Written by Alyssa Thiede 

Sources: 

Egekvist Celebrates 50th Anniversary,” Minneapolis Tribune, November 9, 1958. Star Tribune Archive. 

McCarty, Pat. “Merger Plan Announced by Two Bakeries,” Minneapolis Tribune, December 4, 1962. Star Tribune Archive. 

Neill, Dave. “Egekvist Business Rises Like Dough,” Minneapolis Star, December 1, 1958. 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.

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Prince and the Music Formerly Known as the Minneapolis Sound

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Image from HHM Collections

The Minneapolis Sound was an innovative musical style pioneered by Prince and born out of the city that he loved. Through ingenuity and experimentation Prince created unique music that utilized cutting edge technology. The style can trace its roots to the late seventies, when Prince was beginning his professional career, though it first came to fruition in his third studio album, Dirty Mind. This album combined elements of R&B, funk, rock, and pop in a radical way. It also introduced to the nation to the Minneapolis Sound, which would remain popular throughout the eighties. The key identifying characteristics of the style relied on new technologies; horn sections were replaced with synthesizers and drummers were replaced with drum machines. The result was a hybrid of electro-funk and New Wave music. This new sound drew together different audiences. Prince’s concerts brought together R&B fans that were typically black, and rock fans that were typically white, breaking down the boundaries that segregated musical audiences. By the time Prince released his sixth studio album, Purple Rain, Prince had ingrained the Minneapolis Sound into the national consciousness and energized the local music scene. Many of Prince’s friends, bandmates, and associates would also achieve success. In 1981, Prince assembled a group these musicians into a band called The Time, which included Morris Day as lead singer, Jimmy Jam on keyboards, and Terry Lewis on bass guitar. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis would go on to attain even greater success as the songwriting and production duo that worked with Janet Jackson, after which they would go on to produce an enormous body of work and win five Grammy Awards. 

 

Written by Alyssa Thiede 

Sources: 

Bream, Jon. “Isolation, Experimentation Led to pop’s ‘Minneapolis Sound’,” Star Tribune, May 7, 1989. Star Tribune Archive. 

Ohmes, Jeremy. “The Minneapolis Sound,” PopMatters.com. https://www.popmatters.com/94060-the-minneapolis-sound-2496026723.html 

Riemenschneider, Chris. “The Sound of Genius,” Star Tribune, May 1, 2016. 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.

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Power Through Portraiture

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Portrait of Emma Cranmer by her daughter, Frances Cranmer Greenman. Image from HHM Collections.

On June 28th, 1890 Emma Powers Cranmer had her first and only child named Frances Willard Cranmer in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Emma was an active women’s suffragist that traveled around the United States attending marches and giving speeches. It’s no surprise she named her child after prominent suffragist, Frances Willard. Emma’s daughter Frances would go on to achieve renown and become an important figure in a new a wave of female artists during the 20th century.

In 1906, Frances Cranmer was a young teenager living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. At the age of 16 years old, she decided to become a portrait painter, so she left home to attend school on the east coast. Frances arrived at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington D.C. with her portfolio in hand, but had a tough time getting accepted into school. The director didn’t feel she had the skills to study there and initially denied her acceptance. After noticing how strongly Frances wanted to be admitted into the school, the director put Frances on a probationary period which culminated in Frances receiving a permanent seat in the class. In 1908, at the end of her second year in DC, she was the recipient of the prestigious gold medal awarded annually to one art student at the Corcoran School of Art. She went on to study at the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts, the Art Students League in New York under William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri, and la Grande Chaumière in Paris. During her time in Paris, she visited the famous Louvre Museum to paint an object for one of her assignments. The day she decided to visit the museum she was unable to enter because it was the same day Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” was stolen in 1911. Denied entrance and unable to complete her assignment, she decided to join a school trip to paint landscapes in Switzerland. When crossing the border, the art students’ bags were ransacked as they were considered suspects in the theft of the Mona Lisa.

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Portrait of Frances Cranmer Greenman. Image from HHM Archives.

Throughout Frances’s education, she developed exceptional skills needed to pursue a career as an artist. Shortly after returning from abroad, Frances met John Greenman and they wed in 1915. John was supportive of Frances’ career and saw her work as equally important as his. Throughout her career, Frances was recognized as being one of the best American painters of children’s portraits. She loved to paint children especially her own, Coventry and Patty. Child portraiture is difficult for artists because it’s hard to get children to sit still. Frances’s trick was to entertain them through objects. First, Frances would give the child a hammer, a nail, and a potato. The child would observe the objects and learn each’s purpose by using the hammer to pound the nail into the potato. Once the child was tired of these objects, she would sing and tell them stories.

Frances gained valuable skills throughout her collegiate career but didn’t acquire expertise until she started receiving private commissions for portrait artworks. Along with painting children, Frances was known for painting portraits of the Minneapolis elite including Emil Oberhoffer, founder of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, Idabelle Smith Firestone, wife to the founder of Firestone tires, Alfred G. Pillsbury, co-founder of Pillsbury corporations, William Hamm Jr., executive and grandson of the founder of Hamm’s Brewery, Karl Rolvaag, thirty-first governor of Minnesota, which still hangs today in the St. Paul Capitol. In addition, Frances painted portraits of famous Hollywood figures including Olga Petrova, an actress, Lynn Fontaine, an actress, Howard Greer, a costume and fashion designer, Donald Ogden Steward, an author and screenwriter, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, an author and poet, Dolores del Rio, an actress, Jesse Lasky, a motion picture producer, and Ernest Pascal, a screenwriter and playwright. Throughout her life, Frances was captivated by the sophistication of elites and socialites. She enjoyed the glamorous “Hollywood” life she gained through painting portraits of famous celebrities. A high-profile portrait that was widely acclaimed as an indication of her success was of Mary Pickford, a Hollywood motion picture actress, writer, director, and producer known as “America’s Sweetheart”. Frances obtained much praise for her portrait of Pickford and became known as one of the country’s foremost portrait oil painters. The portrait was completed in 1935 and was unveiled at a studio party thrown by Frances with Mary as the guest of honor and in attendance were high profile elites from the art and cinematic world. The portrait of Mary Pickford was a turning point in Frances’s career that highlighted her success as an artist.

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Clipping from The Los Angeles Times, February 16, 1935. Image from HHM Archives.

In the 1940’s, Frances was offered a position to teach at the Minneapolis School of Art in the Fine Arts department, now known as the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. One of her most famous students was Minnesota native George Morrison whom she helped secure scholarships funds for as she saw potential in his abilities and creativity to become an outstanding artist. Frances also guest lectured at the renowned Art Institute of Chicago educating art students about portraiture painting and her experience as an artist. Throughout Frances’s life, her paintings gained notable distinction nationally and internationally. Her exhibitions were displayed at the Minnesota State Arts Commission in St. Paul, the Exhibition of American Art in Paris, the New Gallery in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, the Sterner Gallery in New York, the Stendhal Galleries in Los Angeles, the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, and at an international exhibit at Carnegie Institute of Pittsburgh. By 1961, Frances was thought to have painted between eight hundred and one thousand portraits.

When Frances was thirty years old in 1920, Congress ratified the nineteenth amendment giving women the right to vote. Being one of a few women in a field dominated by men, Frances helped change the outlook on female artists. Frances career had an impact on the American modernist movement as well as the women’s movement. In 1981, Sun Newspapers wrote of Frances expressing, “She painted the soul, the vibrance of each personality in a manner that truly lives.” Frances ability to capture the essence of an individual in a portrait showed the brilliance of her work and distinction as an artist. Through determination and her talent as an artist, she became a leader of an underrepresented group that provided strength to the first wave of Feminism.

 

Author: Amber Januszewski is a Collections Intern at Hennepin History Museum. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Minnesota with minors in Art History and Medieval Studies.

Sources

Burke, Evelyn. “Frances Greenman stroked her way quickly to fame.” Sun Newspapers, June 10, 1961.

Flanagan, Barbara. “Portrait of a Portrait Painter–Mrs. Greenman.” Minneapolis Sunday Tribune, January 29, 1961.

Henri, Robert, Sarah Burns, Erika Doss, Betsy Fahlman, Helen Langa, Gwendolyn Owens, Lois Palken Rudnick, Marian Wardle. American Women Modernists: The Legacy of Robert Henri, 1910-1945, (New Brunswick, New Jersey, and London; Brigham Young University Museum of Art in association with Rutgers University Press, 2005).

Joint Resolution of Congress proposing a constitutional amendment extending the right of suffrage to women, approved June 4, 1919.; Ratified Amendments, 1795-1992; General Records of the United States Government; Record Group 11; National Archives.

Lamberton, Gretchen. “The Casual Observer.” Winona Daily News, February 21, 1961.

“Artist and Film Star Admire Portrait: Mary Pickford in Oil Shown at Studio Party.” The Los Angeles Times, February 16, 1935, 12.

Thornley, Stew. Six Feet Under: A Graveyard Guide to Minnesota, (Minneapolis; Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2004), 9-10.

Willard, Frances E., Mary A. Livermore. A Woman of the Century: Fourteen Hundred-seventy Biographical Sketches Accompanied by Portraits of Leading American Women in all Walks of Life, (Buffalo, Chicago, New York; Charles Wells Moulton, 1893), 214-216.

 

A Chip Off the Old Dutch

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Image from HHM Collections

Today most Old Dutch Potato Chips are sold in their signature cardboard box, but they originally came in a one-pound tin like this one in the collection at Hennepin History Museum. That iconic windmill logo is ubiquitous on grocery store shelves all over the upper Midwest and customers in Hennepin County are loyal to the company. Old Dutch is the oldest potato chip manufacturer in Minnesota, and they have enjoyed a long and successful history in the snack business.

Karl Marx founded Old Dutch in 1934 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Just three years later, the company crossed county lines and established their headquarters in Minneapolis. Vernon Aanenson purchased the company in 1952, and ultimately passed it along to his sons. Steven Aanenson is President of Old Dutch today, and his brother Eric is its Senior Vice President. The company’s success is surely due to attention to quality and flavor that Old Dutch has always been devoted to. The back of the tin seen above, which dates to the fifties, reads “Old Dutch fine potato chips are one of those foods of outstanding quality with a new tenderness and special flavor that makes them everybody’s flavor favorite!”

Old Dutch celebrates its 85th anniversary this year and the company can still boast about their devoted customer base. Though they will never achieve the same status as larger national brands, the snack company is famous in this region. So much so, Old Dutch products even made their way to the silver screen, appearing in movies set in the upper Midwest. Those titles include “Fargo”, “Grumpier Old Men”, and “Michael”, to name a few. Old Dutch has become so tied to our local identity that even Hollywood knows about it.

 

Written by Alyssa Thiede

Sources:

Jones, Gwenyth. “Potato Chips Boom with New Tastes,” Minneapolis Star, February 4, 1958. Star Tribune Archive.

Tillotson, Kristin, “Always Hometown Stars, Old Dutch Chips Hits Movies,” Star Tribune, February 16, 1997. 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.

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The Man Behind the Bug: The Inventor of the Game of Cootie

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Image from HHM Collections

Hennepin History Museum has three sets of The Game of Cootie in its collection. Given Cootie’s iconic status and the fact that it has been continuously sold for seventy years, it is surprising that we don’t have more. With missing parts and disintegrating boxes, these games were obviously adored and frequently played with. Most people are aware that the game was created in Hennepin County, but the story of the inventor behind it is less well known. 

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Image from HHM Archives

William Herbert Schaper of Robbinsdale enjoyed fishing and hand carving his own lures. He began selling his wooden bugs to children out of the store he ran. By 1948, Schaper realized the potential of his creations. Adapting the rules of an existing game to his unique insect creations, Schaper invented The Game of Cootie. In 1949, he founded the W.H. Schaper Mfg. Co., Inc. (later named Schaper Toys) to manufacture and distribute Cootie. Initially, Schaper hand-carved each game himself. Then, in an innovative move he started manufacturing his games in plastic at a time when plastic toys were just emerging in the market. Schaper first sold his product at Dayton’s on consignment. HIs first shipment flew off the shelves. By 1952, more than 1.2 million games were sold. By the sixties, Schaper’s company created and sold an entire line of games. For a time Schaper toys was one of the largest toy manufacturers in the nation. Like with toys, Schaper also took an innovative approach to marketing. He was one of the first to make a televised advertisement for a toy. He even secured a spot during “Captain Kangaroo,” after which sales skyrocketed.  

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Image from HHM Collections

Cootie has long enjoyed status as a cultural icon. In 1975, a giant fifteen-foot tall Cootie floated in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Also, in honor of the game’s thirtieth anniversary, two streets in Plymouth, Minnesota were renamed “Cootie Lane” and “Cootie Boulevard”. Today the game continues to be enjoyed by little ones and fondly remembered by multiple generations.  

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Image from HHM Collections

One Hennepin County resident’s hobby turned into a million-dollar toy company.  Schaper sold the rights to Cootie and his line of games to Tyco in 1971. Milton Bradley acquired the game in 1987 and still sells it today. Schaper passed away in 1980. He was fondly remembered by his family as a cheerful, kind, and generous man. All characteristics that make sense for someone who brought happiness to so many children.  

 

Written by Alyssa Thiede 

Sources: 

“Cootie Game’s 30th Anniversary is This Year,” Minneapolis Tribune, August 3, 1978. Star Tribune Archive. 

“Firm Hopes This Year You’ll Have Giant-Size Cootie Itch,” Minneapolis Star, March 13, 1958. Star Tribune Archive. 

Levy, Paul. “Can’t Shake This Bug,” Star Tribune, November 28, 1988. Star Tribune Archive. 

Schaper, William H. Separable Toy Figure for a Contruction Game or the Like. U.S. Design Patent 167,006 filed March 20, 1950, and issued June 10, 1952. 

Strickler, Jeff. “Toy Story,” Star Tribune, May 21, 2014. 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.

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