Fleischmann is a brand name that everyone recognizes, even if they have never baked bread from scratch, drunk a Fleischmann’s gin and tonic, or used their vinegar and margarine. Charles Fleischmann, in fact, pretty much invented the brand name and this continued recognition is testimonial to his genius. At one time, teenagers around the country ate fresh yeast cakes by the millions to improve their skin, and corporate success was measured in pound of live yeast consumed per capita. And the great Fleischmann distilleries kept America jolly from 1870 to Prohibition and afterward. Charles Fleischmann and his brothers, sons, daughter, and grandsons amassed a fortune that would be easily equivalent to the billionaires of today—and it all started through the scientific husbandry of a tiny one-celled fungus known as yeast. Add sugar and water, and you get alcohol and more yeast—simple—alter it slightly and you get vinegar. Multiply it times a million and you have the beginnings of the modern industrial food industry in America. This book is a snapshot of a unique family from Central Europe that changed the way America cooked. A family business from the Civil War until the start of the Depression, Fleischmann’s created the giant food conglomerate Standard Brands, which was in-turn gobbled up by Nabisco in the 1980s. In its long history, it literally invented the coupon premium, the give-away recipe book, and state fair bake-offs. This is a story of a talented, generous, outrageously successful family, and of a brand name that still conjures up delicious memories of freshly baked bread and a most happy well being. The Fleischmann story is America at its finest.
Author Bio: P. Christiaan Klieger is senior curator of history at the Oakland Museum of California and research associate at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. A cultural anthropologist, he has done fieldwork in remote corners of Burma, Tibet, India, Nepal, and Hawaii, and is the author of many books on the people and history of these areas. Dr. Klieger became interested in the Fleischmann’s when he was assigned to write a background history of a private island in Hawaii once owned by a Fleischmann heir. This island, Coconut Island, was the prototype for television’s Gilligan’s Island. Digging deeper and deeper into the family history, this snapshot emerged.
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