History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in Ohio (1859-2022)

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1-948436-75-5

Publication Date: 2022 May 13

Number of References in Bibliography: 3284

Earliest Reference: 1851

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Brief Chronology/Timeline of Soy in Ohio

1851 – Soybeans (called Japan peas) are first known to exist in Ohio, sent from California (whence they were brought by shipwrecked Japan) to Andrew Ernst of the Cincinnati Horticultural Society.

1853 Feb. 1 – Japan pea is first mentioned in the title of an article in the Ohio Cultivator.

1853 May – John Lea, writing about “Japan pea” in a letter to the editor of the Western Horticultural Review (Cincinnati, Ohio). “Dr. Warder: - When I introduced the ‘Japan Pea’ to the Horticultural Society of this city, in November, 1851, I advised its being planted about a foot apart in the row, and the rows about two feet apart. Your last number of the Horticultural Review (for April) recommends planting "four feet each way.” This makes a great waste of ground, and the error should be corrected. Perhaps eighteen inches apart in rows two or three feet apart, is the proper distance. I did not recommend this pea "as a food for stock," but for domestic winter use [as food]. As a pea for summer use, it is not suitable. It requires the full length of our season to ripen, and flourishes under great heat and drought. This ‘pea,’ so called - in fact a bean - is self-supported by a remarkably hard, wood-like stem, about three feet high. It is very productive.”

John Lea, April 20, 1853.

Note: This is the earliest document seen indicating that the soybean is a drought-resistant plant; in fact it "flourishes under great heat and drought.

1855 April 12 – T.V. Peticolas (of Mount Carmel, Ohio), writes a letter titled “Japan pea” to Country Gentleman: “…... on the subject of the Japan Pea, or rather Bean. I have cultivated it for the last three years, and have disseminated it from Canada to Texas. It produces abundantly in common corn ground, planted six inches apart in the row, and the rows from 18 inches to two feet apart – wide enough to hoe or use a small cultivator. When eaten a few times they are pleasant enough, but have very little flavor - better when mixed with other beans. Before cooking, they must be soaked at least twenty-four hours. They are inconvenient to use green, being so difficult to hull. Chickens are very fond of them, and hogs devour them with great gusto. I think they would do for a field crop sown broadcast in good soil.”

1860 March 10 – E.E. Smith (of Milan, Erie County, Ohio) in a “Report on various products” to the editor of the Michigan Farmer, states: “Within the last three years, I have tried over one hundred of the novelties of the day, and have not found half of them worth any thing, and not more than one-fourth of these that were of any great value; some of the most valuable are as follows:" He then briefly describes 15 crops, the last of which is: "Japan Peas. - I consider the yellow and green varieties the best, as they are larger and more prolific than the red; with me the yield has been very large. They are very good for table use if soaked in cold water for twelve hours or more before cooking.”

Note: The red variety probably refers to the azuki bean.

1882 – The Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station is founded in 1882 in Columbus. Its first annual report, published in 1882, states (p. 95-96): “Several species of Cow Pea (Dolichos) and the Soya Bean (Soja) grew well; they yielded a large amount of leaves and stems, and, without doubt, will prove valuable soiling and fertilizing crops…”

In 1892 the station moved to Wooster, Ohio.

1907 – J.E. Wing & Bros. Seed Co. (Mechanicsburg, Ohio), starts selling soja beans (soybeans) in its mail order catalog that is focused on alfalfa.

1910 – In the Thirteenth census of the United States taken in the year 1910, Volume V, we learn: In 1909 a total of 16,835 bushels of soy beans were produced on 1,629 acres in the USA. They were worth $20,577. North Carolina was the leading soybean producer with 13,313 bushels (79% of the total).

The following states are listed in descending order of production. For each state is given production in 1909 (in bushels) / acreage / value.

North Carolina: 13,313 bu / 1,249 acres / $14,141.

Tennessee: 2,037 bu / 256 acres / $3,387.

Ohio: 424 bu / 33 acres / $843.

Virginia: 415 bu / 29 acres / $695.

Alabama: 219 bu / 29 acres / $494.

All other states combined: 427 bu / 33 acres…

1916 Oct. – The earliest known commercial soy product made in Ohio is a soap made by Procter & Gamble.

1917 March – J.B. Park of the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station (Wooster, Ohio) writes his first of many articles about soybeans.

1917 Nov. 5 – Acreage of soy beans in the leading states is given in Seed World as: North Carolina, 60,000 acres; Tennessee, 50,000 acres; Illinois, 30,000 acres; Ohio, 12,000 acres; South Carolina, 11,000 acres; New York, 10,000 acres, Arkansas, 10,000 acres.”

1917 – Adrian D. Joyce sells his stock, mortgages his home and buys a small concern named the Glidden Varnish Co. It took every cent he could muster.

1918 March 1 – Frederick V. Anderson applies for a U.S. patent titled “Expeller or press.” It is issued on 11 Nov. 1919 and assigned to the V.D. Anderson Co. of Cleveland, Ohio. Widely used for pressing soy oil from soybeans, it is known as an “Expeller™.”

1922 –La Choy Food Products of Detroit, Michigan, starts to import fermented soy sauce from China in wooden barrels to use as a seasoning in their Asian food products.

1931 – La Choy Food Products of Detroit, Michigan, starts making soy sauce in the United States. That same year the company publishes a 15-page color recipe booklet titled “The Art and Secrets of Chinese Cookery.”

1934 – The Glidden Co. (headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio) buys a modern solvent extraction plant from Germany. Under the leadership of Adrian Joyce Glidden becomes a major diversified player in soybean processing.

1935 Oct. – A huge explosion destroys the Glidden solvent plant in Chicago and one entire city block. Six workers were killed.

1939 Sept. – Dr. Harry W. Miller starts making “Miller’s Soya Lac” at the International Nutrition Laboratory, a soymilk plant he built by hand at Mt. Vernon, Ohio. In Aug. 1940 he launches canned Miller’s Green Soya Beans, Miller’s Soya Curd [tofu], and many other soyfood products. His is a steady voice for food uses of soybeans.

1939 – A.E. Staley Manufacturing Co. is building in new soybean crushing plant at Painesville, Ohio.

1939 – Special Foods, Inc. (a Seventh-day Adventist company later renamed Worthington Foods), in Worthington, Ohio, makes its first commercial product, Proast, a meatless gluten-based meatloaf. Resembling Battle Creek Food Company’s Protose, it contains a little defatted soy grits or flakes.

1941 Oct. – Special Foods, Inc. launches its first soy-based food product, Canned Soybeans (Plain, or with Tomato Sauce). That same month it introduces its most famous early product, Choplets, – resembling pork chops.

“The company's early development coincided with meat rationing efforts during World War II, and the company raced to keep up with the demand for vegetarian meat substitutes” (Worthington Memory, 2016).

1943 Sept. – Beatrice Creamery Co. (later named Beatrice Foods) acquires La Choy Food Products, which in 1941 moved to Archbold, Ohio. Beatrice publishes an excellent history of La Choy, “the largest producer of canned Chinese food in the world – including China!”

1944 – The Drackett Co. (Cincinnati, Ohio) starts to spin soy protein fiber, named Azlon, for use in felt hats.

1945 Dec. – Special Foods, Inc. is renamed Worthington Foods, Inc.

1946 – French Oil Mill Machinery Co. (Piqua, Ohio), starts to get involved with making equipment for extracting oil from soybeans.

1948 April – Worthington Foods begins publication of Chopletter: The Magazine of Worthington Foods News and Views. It continues to be published until 1969. By April 1960 the circulation was about 65,000.

1949 – Worthington Foods, Inc. introduces Soyloin Steaks, a meatless product with a great name.

1952 May 6 – Robert A. Boyer, a former longtime protégé of Henry Ford, applies for a landmark U.S. patent for a “High protein food product and process for its preparation, which describes the preparation of textured meatless foods from spun vegetable protein. The patent is issued on 29 June 1954. Worthington Foods is one of several companies that buys a license for the patent.

1960 – Worthington Foods purchases Battle Creek Foods (of Michigan).

1964 – Worthington Foods purchases Madison Foods (of Tennessee).

1966 – The Indiana Soybean Growers Association is formed to advocate for soybean farmers on important industry issues.

1966 – Worthington Foods starts manufacturing its own spun soy protein, which it formerly purchased from Ralston Purina Co., for its meatless meats.

1970 March 11 – Miles Laboratories, Inc., a large pharmaceutical company in Elkhart, Indiana, and Worthington Foods announce that they have merged. Worthington, a pioneer in the technology of textured vegetable protein foods, will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Miles Labs. – the maker of Alka-Seltzer.

1973 – Miles Laboratories starts selling meat alternatives to the mass market at supermarkets under the Morningstar Farms brand.

1974-1975 – Miles Laboratories, Inc., (Grocery Products Division) opens a plant to manufacture the Morningstar Farms line of meat alternatives in Schaumburg, Illinois, at 601 East Algonquin Road, 60172.

1977 Oct. – Miles Laboratories is purchased by Bayer A.G. of Germany, makers of Aspirin.

1980 – Twenty-six states pass soybean checkoff legislation. Ohio and Indiana are the only two soybean producing states without soybean checkoff programs.

1982 Oct. 15 – Worthington Foods is repurchased from Miles Laboratories by a group of three Seventh-day Adventist investors. Allan Buller is now president, James L. Hagle is treasurer and chairman of the board, and Dr. George Harding IV is secretary and vice president. Miles Labs. never made a profit the whole time they owned Worthington – 12 years. Worthington Foods chose not to include the Schaumberg plant in its purchase, because it believed it could meet its projected sales for a number of years with production limited to Worthington.

1999 Oct. – The Kellogg Co. (makers of breakfast cereals, such as Corn Flakes) purchases Worthington Foods but the plant continued to operate in Worthington until Kellogg's closed it in 2005 and moved operations to Zanesville, Ohio.

Click here to download the full text to open and read book History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in Ohio (1859-2022)