Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fresh Milk, the Daily Bread, Candy, Pillsbury Flour and Potato Chips

This blog posting covers some familiar food manufacturers as well as enterprising retailers that have fed the Southland both past and present:

Broguiere's Farm Fresh Dairy

505 South Maple Avenue, Montebello

Once a dairy farm est. 1920, it has stayed the course, and aside from some drastic business decisions along the way, it thrives to this day.  A drive-through dairy, Broguiere's is known for its glass milk bottles and seasonal egg nog.  Given a boost of notoriety by Huell Howser some years ago, the family-owned store is run by third-generation Ray Broguiere, Jr. 

His grandfather, Ernest, was from the French Alps.  Ernest and his stock of 150 cows on five acres was the success over the original lemon grove that resulted in failure.  He and his wife Marie, were relative latecomers to immigrate.  East in Whittier a French dairyman, Francois Pellissier, who immigrated in 1888, developed sprawling pastures.  But the Broguieres have the longevity, surpassing the once larger operation of the Pellissier family.  (Both dairies provided door to door milk deliveries back in the day.)

The 1920 Census data indicates the diverse backgrounds of neighbors to the Broguieres:  Mexicans whose occupations were listed as brickworkers, probably employed at nearby Simons brickyard or the Metallic brick plant further north in Monterey Park.  Japanese residents were also listed, some whose employment were as teachers, probably in the local Japanese language school, as well as farm laborers.

When Ernest's son, Ray, Sr. took over the business in 1965, he had to cut costs by getting rid of the milking cows and switch over to being a milk producer (thus the added name 'Montebello Sanitary Dairy'.)  He made a key decision to retain the rare use of glass milk containers, for which today customers drive from miles away to purchase.

Helms Bakery Plant 2

While the original, 1931 bakery building complex on Washington and Venice Boulevards in Culver City has found new uses with its furniture stores and restaurants, a less known former Helms Bakery building is located in Montebello, not far from Broguiere's.  The sister plant has been a bread outlet store for many years.

Many Southern Californians have fond memories of delicious, fresh breads delivered to their houses by the unique Helms trucks.  The Montebello plant provided service to towns all over the San Gabriel Valley when it opened in 1947.

480 So. Vail Avenue, Montebello

A look inside the truck loading area
The atmosphere while shopping at the bread outlet includes the rumbling of an occasional train and its piercingly loud horn
Garvey Nut & Candy

By all appearances to be the Costco of candy stores, this business is a retailer and a supplier of bulk candy galore and soda pop.  It operated in the City of Commerce on Flotilla Street for many years, but recently moved to Pico Rivera.  The hub of activity in this warehouse concentrates on filling orders as workers pull boxes and bags of candy as they eye-ball their requisitions in hand.  Forklifts are everywhere, so the place doesn't really accommodate too many customers - they definitely do NOT allow children.

Parking is very limited.  You have to dance with the big rigs - both in your car and when on foot.
Update:  On March 1st, 2014, the company changed its name to First Source, and is no longer open to the public - you need to set up an account and have a re-sale license.

8825 Mercury Lane, Pico Rivera

Pillsbury Flour Mills Company

The Minnesota-based company established a West coast milling operation around the late 1940s.  Riding its success through the late 1960s until 1981, Pillsbury was the top flour producer.  In 1961, it expanded its mill in the City of Commerce.  But business spiraled downward until it was bought in 1989 by a British company, Grand Metropolitan.  In 2001, General Mills bought Pillsbury.

Built around 1947, this view is from the "mix-master" intersection on the 5 Freeway overpass

Click here for another view showing the gigantic grain silos attached to the 12-story tower.

Laura Scudder Potato Chips

Ask anybody - if you mention the name 'Laura Scudder' do you think of a woman named Laura, or does Miss Scudder come to mind?  More likely, the two words bring up immediate thoughts of crunchy potato chips instead.  Kitty-corner from The Blue House in Monterey Park is the northeast corner of Garvey and Atlantic by a vacant Shell gas station.  Here a sidewalk plaque informs the pedestrian that Laura Scudder started her business at this site in 1926.

Installed at the street corner by the vacant gas station is this plaque honoring Laura Scudder's site