History

Welcome to Franklin Foods! We are a company with a long and innovative history, which began in the rolling dairy hills of Franklin County, Vermont.

1899 – Our Roots

Frank Hahn and Russ Rustelhulse started the Hahn’s Cream Cheese Company in a small building in Enosburg Falls. Hahn’s primary product was a unique Baker’s Cheese, crafted to high quality using old world technique.mHahn’s was carried to success both by their great product and a new technology – the iced railroad car – which transported the Baker’s Cheese to New York, where it became an essential ingredient in the city’s renowned New York style cheesecake.

1940s and 1950s – Growth with the Hildebrandts

In the 1940s, Otto Hildebrandt purchased Hahn’s to compliment his bakery supply company, which was already distributing eggs, milk, cream, and other products to retail bakeries in the New York City metro area.

In the 1950s, the company moved to the east end of the 1908 United Farmer’s plant. This location remains Franklin Foods’ present-day Vermont home.

1970s – Direct Set Cream Cheese

Otto’s son Walter Hildebrandt eventually took the reins. Walter developed an innovative process to create a premium cream cheese faster than traditional methods, and without any whey as a by-product.   “Direct Set” cream cheese had the smooth texture of traditional cream cheese and a new tangy taste that many people preferred over the bland, salty taste of existing cream cheeses.

Bakers creatively used Direct Set Cream cheese to enliven their recipes, and in the 1980s it was embraced by the fresh bagel shops that flourished first in New England and then across the United States.

1990s – Continued Innovation and Emergence of Franklin Foods, Inc.

In 1989, Walter Hildebrandt sold the company to two Vermont entrepreneurs who were huge fans of Direct Set Cream Cheese. Nordahl Brue and Michael Dressell, founders of Bruegger’s Bagel Bakeries, were well acquainted with the cream cheese made in Franklin County. They wanted to branch out into flavored cream cheese for their bagel shops.

In 1990, the first Bruegger’s flavored cream cheese rolled off the line, offering their customers the consistent quality and unique flavors that became a beloved signature of the Bruegger’s brand and experience.

1993 saw major plant renovations, and two year later, in 1995, the All Seasons Kitchen line was introduced.

John Gutknecht took the helm as President and CEO in 1999. The company evolved rapidly under Gutknecht’s dynamic leadership, with continued improvements in production, moderinzed organization and management, and a renewed push for innovation.

In 2000, the Vermont Gourmet line of cream cheese was born and a new company name was adopted: Franklin Foods, Inc.

2000s – Yogurt Cream Cheese

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 lower fat, sodium, and cholesterol. The process even allows for the yogurt cultures to remain alive and active –  a food science development that was previously unheard of. This product is named Hahn’s Yogurt and Cream Cheese, honoring the century-old tradition that has made Franklin Foods the company that it is.

2010s – Greek Cream Cheese and The West

  • Groundbreaking Greek Cream Cheese
  • Casa Grande, Western Markets – In the summer of 2013 Franklin Foods opened a second SQF
  • 2000 Level 3 manufacturing facility in Casa Grande, Arizona.
  • Hochland and International Markets

2020s and Forward

What started as an ambitious cheese-based business in little Enosburg Falls, Vermont, has flourished through more than 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 a devoted market. From its iced rail cars and horse-and-buggy delivery system to and throughout New York City at the end of the 19th century to its nationwide and international distribution today, Franklin Foods has proven that point.

Franklin Foods continues to operate in the Enosburg Falls facility where it first 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, remains.

Today, Franklin Foods is on a mission to Re-Invent Cream Cheese® for today’s consumer and culinary professional.  We are the third-largest cream cheese producer and second-largest private label cream cheese manufacturer in the United States. 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.

Franklin Foods has been making dairy products for more than 120 years. We look forward to continuing to serve our consumers through the 21st century.