History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in Wisconsin (1883-2021)

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1-948436-52-6

Publication Date: 2021 Sept. 28

Number of References in Bibliography: 1540

Earliest Reference: 1883

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Brief Chronology of Soy in Wisconsin

1891 Feb. 4 – One package of German Coffee Berry is sent to Mr. Goodman of Williams County, Illinois. Goodman writes a Kansas newspaper: 'From one package Salzer's German Coffee Berry I grew 300 pounds of better coffee than I can buy in stores at 30 cents a pound.'

“A package of this and big seed catalog is sent to you by John A. Salzer Seed Co., La Crosse, Wisconsin, upon receipt of 15 cents stamps and this notice.”

We later learn that the German Coffee Berry is a new name for the soy bean. Salzer probably grew them out in Wisconsin – but we cannot be sure.

1894 – Soybeans are first mentioned in a Wisconsin Agricultural College or Experiment Station publication (Woll, F.W. Composition of feeding stuffs. Wisconsin Agricultural Experiment Station, Annual Report. p. 288-94).

1895 Nov. – Soybeans are probably first cultivated in Wisconsin (Georgeson 1895).

1898 June – Nitragin is first made in Germany, but it is not mentioned in the United States in connection with soybeans until 1910 (Lipman 1910; Soybean Digest. 1998 Aug/Sept. p. 6).

1900 April 28 – Soybeans are first cultivated in Wisconsin (Moore. 1900. Wisconsin Agricultural Experiment Station, Annual Report. p. 227-38).

The beans were “sown broadcast at the rate of 2½ bushels per acre, April 28th [1900]. The beans made a rapid growth, and on August 7th two varieties measured four feet in height.”

1916 – Hepco Flour (Soy Flour), made by Waukesha Health Products Co. of Waukesha, Wisconsin is the earliest known commercial soy product made in Wisconsin (Joslin 1916. p. 397, 406).

1919 – Wisconsin is America’s 11th leading soybean producing state with 2,000 acres grown for hay, silage, grazing, etc. The 3 leading states are North Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi (Monthly Crop Reporter {USDA}, 1920 Feb. p. 11).

1920 March – George M. Briggs writes his earliest known publication about soybeans – A 6-panel leaflet titled “Grow soybeans.”

1920 Sept. – George M. Briggs attends the first meeting of the American Soybean Association on the farm of Taylor Fouts, named Soyland, in Camden, Indiana (Soybean Digest. 1952 Sept. Cover + p. 89).

1920 – Wisconsin is now America’s 9th leading soybean producing state in terms of production. The 3 leading states are North Carolina, Virginia, and Alabama (Piper & Morse, 1923. The Soybean. p. 3).

1921 Sept. – At the Second Annual Corn Belt Soybean Day, held at Urbana and Tolono in Champaign County, Illinois, George Briggs, of Madison, Wisconsin, gives a five minute talk about soybeans (Dungan 1921, event program).

1923 Sept. 11 – “The Fourth Annual Field Meeting of the Association was held under the direction of the President, G.M. Briggs, at the Wisconsin University Hill Farm near Madison, Wisconsin” (Proceedings of the American Soybean Association, Vol. 1, p. 46-48).

1926 – The William O. Goodrich Co. of Milwaukee is the first company to crush soybeans into oil and meal in Wisconsin; it was acquired by the Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. in 1928 (Illinois Agric. Exp. Station, Bulletin No. 706, p. 3).

1928 March – One manufacturer of a combine – combined harvester-thresher – is J.I. Case Co. of Racine, Wisconsin. In the 1929 Proceedings of the American Soybean Association, Case runs a full-page ad titled “This is the way to harvest your soybeans – Case” (p. 24). Case runs a 2nd full-page ad in the 1930 Proceedings (p. 45).

1930 – Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, writes an 18-page article titled “The versatile soy bean” in Allis-Chalmers Bulletin No. 1246.

1936 Sept. – Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, runs its first full-page ad titled “Serving the soy bean industry” in the Proceedings of the American Soybean Association (p. 2). Photos show rotary dryers and a two-pair mill for cracking soybeans. The company runs a 2nd full-page ad in the 1937 Proceedings (p. 68).

1939 Sept. – Massey-Harris of Racine, Wisconsin, runs its first full-page ad titled “The combine they're all talking about - the Massey-Harris Clipper” in the Proceedings of the American Soybean Association (p. 35).

1939 – Fox Valley Canning Co. of Hortonville, Wisconsin begins canning “Mother's Choice Brand Green Vegetable Soybeans.” It runs a small ad in the Proceedings of the American Soybean Association (p. 12).

1945 July – George M. Briggs is first featured in an article in Soybean Digest titled “71 Wisconsin counties know ‘Soybean’ Briggs.” A portrait photo of Briggs is included in the full-page article (p. 7).

1953 Sept. – George M. Briggs is chosen an Honorary Life Member of the American Soybean Association (Soybean Digest, p. 23).

1953 Sept. – “In 1950 the Congress repealed anti-margarine legislation which taxed yellow margarine 10 cents a pound. The vote was overwhelming despite strong opposition from butter interests.” Today, “Only two states, Wisconsin and Minnesota, prohibit the manufacture and sale of yellow margarine” (Soybean Digest, p. 36-37).

1969 Nov. – Saheiji Mogi, president of Kikkoman, reads a report titled “International Marketing of an Oriental Product” to the Japan Marketing Association at a meeting on international marketing. It was edited, translated and published in April 1971 by the Asian Productivity Organization (Mogi 1971).

1971 March –The Brady Crop Cooker, a low-cost extrusion cooker for cooking soybeans, begins operations (Piqua Daily Call {Ohio}. 1971 March 29. p. 3). By 1971 it starts to be made by the Koehring Company in Appleton, Wisconsin,

1971 March – The decision to build a plant in Wisconsin is made by Kikkoman (Mogi Saheji. 1973 June 21).

1972 Jan. 1 – “Recently the Walworth County [Wisconsin] board of supervisors voted 42 to 1 to allow construction of a $6 million Kikkoman soy sauce plant in the county. This will be ‘Kikkoman's only plant outside Japan, where the company has been making soy sauce for over 300 years.’ (National Observer).

1972 Jan. 18 – Groundbreaking ceremonies are held for the new $12 million Kikkoman plant at Walworth, Wisconsin. “The shoyu fermentation takes about 3 months and Kikkoman expects to start their first fermentations in October or November 1972 with the first sales in [March] 1973. Initial production will amount to about 2,500,000 gallons annually which will use about 500,000 bushels total of wheat and soybeans per year (Dimler. 1972 Jan. 21).

1972 Jan. – The $8 million Kikkoman soy sauce plant in Walworth, Wisconsin, “is believed to be the largest single investment ever made by a Japanese concern in the U.S.” The plant will produce 2.6 million gallons of soy sauce annually. It will be constructed by the Austin Co. of Cleveland, Ohio. Kikkoman began exporting shoyu (to be sold in bottles) to the U.S. in 1949. It was transported in tank containers from Japan to California, where it was bottled and packed for distribution (Soybean Digest, p. 17).

1973 May 16 – Yuzaburo Mogi, Vice-President of Kikkoman Foods, Inc. of Walworth, Wisconsin, gives an excellent speech titled “Kikkoman – American Plant Project – From Planning to Start Up” at the Governor’s Conference on Business Development, Green Lake, Wisconsin.

Mr. Mogi, earned his B.A. degree from Keio University in Japan and his Master’s of Business Administration from Columbia University in New York City. Yuzaburo Mogi and his senior, Saheji Moji, company president, were the two people most responsible for the conception and execution of Kikkoman’s plant in the United States. This 14-page speech gives an in-depth look at how that process developed.

1973 June 16 – Ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Kikkoman plant site in Walworth, Wisconsin. The two-day weekend event is featured in a 12-page tabloid supplement to The Times (a local newspaper). Participants in the ceremony are: William McKonke, Keizaburo Mogi, Governor Lucey, Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Nabuhiko Ushiba, and Saheiji Mogi. One photo shows Keizaburo Mogi presenting the “grand opening address,” with translator Yuzaburo Mogi at his side. Thousands were invited.

The event included a tour of the plant, Japanese music (including taiko drumming) and dancing, and buffet tables of delicious food. “The $9,000,000 facility on the Big Foot Prairie has been completed and the production of Japanese soy sauce has begun. The plant is on a 200-acre site northwest of the Village of Walworth”

1976 – Thriposha, a food for young children, starts to be made in Colombo, Sri Lanka by a Brady Crop Cooker (History of Soy Flour).

1977 – An expansion of Kikkoman’s plant is completed, which double’s the new plant’s capacity.

1981 Oct. 10 – Kikkoman is now the No. 1 brand of soy sauce in the United States (with about 40-45% of the U.S. market), ahead of its two main domestic rivals, La Choy (a product of Beatrice Foods) and Chun King (made by the Reynolds Tobacco Co.).

Kikkoman is operating at near the new full capacity of 5.2 million gallons a year (New York Times).

1981 – Three U.S. states have a state soybean development board but no checkoff (by which farmers have ½-1 cent deducted at the first point of sale to pay for ASA development programs): Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana (Acton 1981).

1998 – The Nitragin Co. celebrates its 100th anniversary. It was established in Germany in 1898; today it has a large factory at 3101 W. Custer Ave., Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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