Sarah Hall recently found a vintage folding wooden box of Light House Food Products from the National Grocer Company in the rafters of her garage in Florida. Because the company went out of business during the Great Depression, a find like this is pretty amazing.
From what we have been able to determine, the National Grocer Company, which was headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, produced a large number of food products bearing their brand name of Light House Food Products. Some of the products that we know about include Light House Coffee, Light House Peanut Butter, Light House Mustard, Light House Sardines, Light House Extract of Vanilla, Light House Rolled Oats, and Light House Safety Matches.
At some point, the National Grocer Company, which at its pinnacle operated as many as 300 grocery stores, decided to also go into the wholesale business of selling its trademarked Light House brand products to other grocery stores, as well as carrying them in their own stores. Apparently, this was a disastrous business decision. In the August 27, 1930 edition of Michigan Tradesmen Magazine, the editor of the publication wrote the following, “Eighteen months ago, I wrote a letter to an officer of the company that if management persisted in riding two horses at the same time by conducting both wholesale and retail establishments, the organization would be in bankruptcy in two years. The collapse has come six months sooner than we expected.”
Items featuring Light House Food Products of the National Grocer Company are a unique part of the history of products and firms that used a lighthouse to promote themselves and their business. If you come across them, please send us photos, or the products themselves.
This story appeared in the
Jul/Aug 2020 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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