Quaker Oats Cereal Factory, Akron Ohio
The Quaker Oats Company traces its history back to 1854 when Ferdinand Schumacher built his first hand-operated mill in Akron. He perfected two revolutionary milling processes, steel cut oats and rolled oats, and popularized the new breakfast product "oatmeal". During the Civil War, Quaker Oats' popularity mushroomed because of its ease of preparation on the battlefield.
Schumacher's company flourished, and in 1872, he built his greatly expanded "German Mills" complex on the present site of the brick factory buildings. Though destroyed by fire in 1886, these structures were quickly replaced by similar buildings on the same stone foundations.
Through various mergers and acquisitions, Schumacher's company became the "Quaker Oats" Company and the Akron headquarters continued to grow through the 1940's. For a number of years before the turn-of-the-century, Quaker Oats was the biggest industry and the largest single employer of the City.
Today, the complex is the only remaining visual element in Akron associated with the Quaker Oats Company; the city where Quaker began and served a vital economic role in the community for decades.
While quartered in Akron, Quaker developed some innovative marketing concepts which have had world-wide impact. In addition, Quaker was a pioneer in the concept of national brand advertising by renaming its generic product (oatmeal) "Quaker Oats" and promoting it by distinguishing it from competitive products. The company also merchandised its products by developing the cross-country "whistle-stop" campaigns to increase public demand.
Quaker, for example, was one of the first companies to actively promote a "slogan" for its product--"Shot from guns". The company was also one of the pioneers in consumer packaging, taking what had been a bulk item and putting it into smaller, easier to handle containers.
The success of the Quaker Oats Company was born in the mill buildings and silos on the Akron site. The complex continues to be an important part of the City's history since it has been "recycled" into a successful regional specialty retailing center by maximizing the quality and character of these handsome industrial structures.