The King of Michigan Pickles, Robert Vlasic Dead at 96
Rest in peace, Mr. Vlasic. You made some damn fine pickles in your day and Michigan is a better place because of you.
Robert Vlasic, the man responsible for making his little Michigan company a nationally-recognized pickle giant has passed away at the age of 96.
Vlasic Didn't Always Mean Pickles
It's a little-known fact that the Vlasic brand was initially associated with cheese. Robert Vlasic's grandfather Frank Vlasic opened his own creamery in the early 1900s. His son Joe then worked at expanding the family business by selling Polish pickles spiced with garlic and dill.
During World War II, the nation's pickle supply dried up so Joe began testing a new idea: selling pickles in jars. The idea took off, and soon the company couldn't keep up with demand.
According to Vlasic's webpage, Robert Vlasic took the role of General Manager after the war and the company's first pickle plant was built in Imlay City. Over the next couple of decades, Robert Vlasic grew the business into America's number one pickle company.
Trivia That No One Needs to Know
In the late 70s, the Vlasic pickle plant in Imlay City had the same phone number (but a different area code) as my parents. When I was a kid, long before the days of Caller ID, my family fielded many wrong numbers from people saying, "Is this the pickle plant?"
You Eat Eight Pounds of Pickles Per Year?
According to Vlasic, pickle consumption in the US grew to about eight pounds per person by the mid 70s. That's a lot of pickles.
As the pickle company increased in size, the Vlasic brothers dropped the milk and cheese part of the business.
Some of the Cutest TV Commercials
If you're of a certain age, you probably remember the Vlasic Stork. Check out some of these classic Vlasic TV commercials.
R.I.P., Mr. Vlasic.