Welcome to Franklin Foods, a company with a long and innovative history, located in the rolling dairy hills of Franklin County, Vermont. Started in 1899 by partners Frank Hahn and Russ Rustelhulse in a small building at the end of Depot Street in Enosburg Falls, the Hahn’s Cheese Company was carried to success both by their great product and a new technology – the iced railroad car. The primary product, Bakers Cheese, was especially popular in the New York City baking market. The quality and old-world techniques created a unique and desirable product, essential for the city's renowned New York–style cheesecakes.
In the 1940s, Otto Hildebrandt purchased the Company in order to vertically integrate his bakery supply company, which distributed products (eggs, milk, cream, etc.) to retail bakeries in the New York City metro area. In the 1950s, company operations moved to a rented area in the east end of the 1908 United Farmer’s plant (the present-day home of Franklin Foods). Soon Otto’s son Walter Hildebrandt was leading the company. He pursued growth of the company through the development of Direct Set Cream Cheese in the 1970s. This new process allowed for the creation of premium cream cheese using a faster process that does not create whey. It had the smooth texture of traditional cream cheese but a tangy taste that many people preferred over the traditional bland, salty taste of traditional cream cheese. Bakers used it to enliven their recipes. In the 1980s it became the preference of the fresh bagel shops that flourished first in New England and then across the United States.
In 1989 Hildebrandt sold the company to two Vermont entrepreneurs who were great fans of Direct Set Cream Cheese. Nordahl Brue and Michael Dressell were well acquainted with the cream cheese made at Franklin County’s facility. As the founders of Bruegger’s Bagel Bakeries, Brue and Dressell wanted to branch out into flavored cream cheese for their bagel stores. In 1990, the first Bruegger's brand flavored cream cheese rolled off the line, providing their successful shops with consistent quality and unique flavors.
In 1995, two years after major plant renovations, the All Seasons Kitchen line was introduced. President and CEO Jon Gutknecht came aboard in 1999 and now is a partner in the business. Under Gutknecht's leadership the company began to change even more rapidly: changes in production and management as well as a new push for innovation. In 2000, the Vermont Gourmet line of cream cheese was born and a new company name was adopted: Franklin Foods, Inc.
Technological advances in 2003 allowed for the creation of the first-ever yogurt cream cheese. Made using a patent-approved process, this new and ingenious product provides fewer calories and less, fat, sodium and cholesterol. The process even allowed for the yogurt cultures to remain alive and active, which before that time was scientifically unheard of. The product was named Hahn’s Yogurt and Cream Cheese, honoring the century-old tradition that has made Franklin Foods the company that it is.
What started as an ambitious cheese-based business in little Enosburg Falls, Vermont, has weathered a century of changing market conditions and consumer preferences. But what was true back in 1899 is true today: if you make a good, wholesome and innovative product, you will find an audience. From its horse-and-buggy delivery system in New York City at the end of the 19th century to its nationwide distribution today, Franklin Foods has proven that point. Franklin Foods continues to operate in the facility where the business was originally relocated from Depot Street. The building has been renovated and old structures removed, but the east wing from the 1908 building, which Hildebrandt first rented to make cheese, still remains. Franklin Foods has been making dairy products for more than 100 years, and we look forward to continuing to serve our consumers into the next century.
Today, the Franklin Foods traditions of excellent quality, delicious taste and dairy innovation continue. Franklin Foods is the third-largest cream cheese producer and second-largest private label cream cheese manufacturer in the United States and is on a mission to Re-Invent Cream Cheese® for today’s consumer and culinary professional. Franklin Foods’ award-winning products are distributed to industrial, institutional, foodservice, private label, supermarket, and club store accounts across the United States and numerous international markets.
In the summer of 2013 Frankln Foods will open a second SQF 2000 Level 3 manufacturing facility in Casa Grande, Arizona.