Nabisco (pronounced /nəˈbɪskoʊ/; originally known as National Biscuit Company) is an American brand of cookies and snacks. Headquartered in East Hanover, New Jersey, the company is a subsidiary of Illinois-based Kraft Foods. Nabisco's plant in Chicago, a 1.8 million-square-foot production facility at 7300 S. Kedzie Avenue, is the largest bakery in the world, employing more than 1,500 workers and turning out some 320 million pounds of snack foods annually.
Its products include Chips Ahoy!, Fig Newtons, Mallomars, Oreos, Cameo, Premium Crackers, Ritz Crackers, Teddy Grahams, Triscuits, Wheat Thins, Social Tea, Nutter Butter, Peek Freans, Lorna Doone, Famous Chocolate Wafers and Chicken in a Biskit, used for the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico and Venezuela as well as other parts of South America.
Nabisco products are branded as Kraft in some other countries. All Nabisco cookie or cracker products are branded Christie in Canada; however, prior to the Post Cereals merger, the cereal division kept the Nabisco name in Canada. The proof of purchase on their products is marketed as a "brand seal."
Nabisco's colophon, a diagonal ellipse with a series of antenna-like lines protruding from the top, forms the base of its logo and can be seen imprinted on Oreo wafers in addition to Nabisco product boxes and literature. It has been claimed in company promotional material to be an early European symbol for quality; it may be derived from a medieval Italian printer's mark that represented "the triumph of the moral and good over the evil and worldly." Oreo cookies in Canada do not have the Nabisco Orb, as they are branded as Christie in that country. Elsewhere, the packaging is branded with the Kraft logo.
Company time line
- 1792 - Pearson & Sons Bakery opens in Massachusetts. They make a biscuit called pilot bread consumed on long sea voyages.
- 1801 - Josiah Bent Bakery first coined the term 'crackers' for a crunchy biscuit they produce.
- 1889 - William Moore acquires Pearson & Sons Bakery, Josiah Bent Bakery, and six other bakeries to start the New York Biscuit Company.
- 1890 - Adolphus Green starts the American Biscuit & Manufacturing Company after acquiring forty different bakeries.
- 1898 - William Moore and Adolphus Green merge to form the National Biscuit Company. Adolphus Green is president.
- 1901 - The name Nabisco is first used as part of a name for a sugar wafer.
- 1971 - Nabisco becomes the corporate name.
- 1973 - Frank Tasco is listed as the chairman of Nabisco.
- 1981 - Nabisco merges with Standard Brands.
- 1985 - Nabisco Brands merges with R.J. Reynolds
- 1993 - Kraft General Foods acquires NABISCO ready-to-eat cold cereals from RJR Nabisco.
- 1999 - Nabisco acquires Favorite Brands International
- 2000 - Philip Morris Companies, Inc. acquires Nabisco and merges it with Kraft Foods, Inc.
Nabisco dates its founding to 1898, a decade during which the bakery business underwent a major consolidation. Early in the decade, bakeries throughout the country were consolidated regionally, into companies such as Chicago's American Biscuit and Manufacturing Company (which was formed from 40 Midwestern bakeries in 1830), the New York Biscuit Company (consisting of seven eastern bakeries), and the United States Baking Company. In 1898, the National Biscuit Company was formed from the combination of those three; the merger resulted in a company with 114 bakeries across the United States and headquartered in New York City. The "biscuit" in the name of the company is a British English and early American English term for cracker products.
Key to the founding of Nabisco was Pittsburgh baking mogul Sylvester S Marvin. Marvin arrived in Pittsburgh in 1863 and established himself in the cracker business, founding S. S. Marvin Co. Its products embraced every description of crackers, cakes and breads. Marvin was called the Edison of manufacturing for his innovations in the bakery business—by 1888 the largest in the United States—and the centerpiece to the organization of the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco). Marvin was also a member of the elite South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club of Johnstown Flood fame.
After the consolidation, the president of National Biscuit Company—Adolphus Green of American Biscuit and Manufacturing Company—asked Frank Peters to create a package to distribute fresher products. This paved its way for In-Er Seal package, whose logo is a prototype for the "Nabisco Thing." The In-Er Seal package is a system of inter-folded wax paper and cardboard to "seal in the freshness" of the product. At the beginning of his presidency, Green decided the National Biscuit Company, often shortened to NBC, needed a new idea that grabbed the public’s attention. He got it when his employees created a new cracker that was flakier and lighter than any of their competitors’ versions.
The UNEEDA biscuit looked promising, but Green had to make sure it got to customers fresh and tasty, so it was the first to use the In-Er Seal package in 1898. Until then, crackers were sold unbranded and packed loosely in barrels. Mothers would give their sons a paper bag and ask them to run down to the store and get the bag filled with crackers. National Biscuit Company used this as part of Uneeda Biscuit advertising symbol, which depicts a boy carrying a pack of Uneeda Biscuit in the rain. In 2009 (after over 110 years), Nabisco discontinued the Uneeda biscuit out of concern that the product was not as profitable as others.
The first use of "Nabisco" was in a cracker brand first produced by National Biscuit Company in 1901. The firm later introduced—either through development or acquisition— Fig Newtons, Nabisco Wafers (early 1900s, now sold in one form as Biscos, a sugar wafer originally containing a variety of flavored fillings), Anola Wafers (early 1900s, now discontinued; a chocolate wafer with chocolate filling), Barnum's Animal Crackers (1902), Lorna Doones (1912; shortbread), Oreos (1912), and Famous Chocolate Wafers (1924; a thin wafer without filling).
In 1924, the National Biscuit Company introduced a snack in a five-cent sealed packet called the Peanut Sandwich Packet. They soon added a second, the Sorbetto Sandwich Packet. These allowed salesmen to sell to soda fountains, road stands, milk bars, lunch rooms and news stands. Sales increased, and in 1928 the company adopted and started to use the name NAB, which immediately won the approval of the public. The term Nabs today is used to generically mean any type of snack crackers, most commonly in the southern United States.
During WWII, the company manufactured K-Rations for US troops. The first use of the red triangular logo was in 1952. The name of the company was not changed to Nabisco until 1971; prior to that year, the company was often referred to as N.B.C. (unrelated to the broadcasting company; even though the logo could be said to resemble an antenna, this seems to be a coincidence).
The Nabisco unit that produces cookies and crackers was renamed the Nabisco Biscuit Company in the 1990s. That prompted advertising columnist Stuart Elliott in The New York Times to quip that since Nabisco stood for the National Biscuit Company, the unit should be known as the National Biscuit Company Biscuit Company (a modified RAS syndrome).