Back to top

Gedney Foods Company

Creator: 
Color image of a Gedney's Pantry Pickles label, c.1935.

Gedney's Pantry Pickles label, c.1935.

The official source of "the Minnesota Pickle" and creators of the State Fair pickle line, Gedney Foods is an iconic Minnesota company, with products distributed throughout the Midwest. Founded in 1880, Gedney continues to grow one of the more successful pickle brands in the United States.

Matthias Anderson Gedney founded the M.A. Gedney Company. He was born in Patterson, New Jersey on October 24, 1822. Gedney spent much of his youth and early adulthood at sea as a sailor on merchant and naval vessels. In 1849, he joined the California Gold Rush, making enough money to start a small trade business and marry Calista Jane Bailey. Gedney first got involved in the pickle business in 1863. That year, Gedney and his family moved to Illinois. He began working for Northwestern Pickle Works near Evanston. While in Illinois, Gedney's wife Calista passed away in 1874 after having twelve children, three of whom died as infants. Gedney left Northwestern Pickle Works in 1876 to join S.M. Dingee and Co., a pickle company in Chicago. He was related to the Dingee family through his mother-in-law, Eliza Dingee Bailey. In 1877, Gedney was remarried, to Anne Kirk.

In 1879, after years in the pickle business, Gedney decided to found his own company. Moving to Minneapolis, Gedney searched for local Minnesota farmers willing to grow cucumbers, a semi-tropical vine fruit not yet introduced to the state. In 1880, he founded the M.A. Gedney Pickling Co. with two of his five sons, Charles Bailey Gedney and John Parker Gedney. The first factory opened in 1881 on Lowry Avenue in north Minneapolis. By 1888, the company was successful enough that two other sons, Isadore Vallier and Henry Edwin, joined. The company was incorporated on April 23, 1888.

By 1893, the Gedney Pickling Co. was expanding. Factories were already established in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Chaska; Omaha and Kearney, Nebraska; and Mauston, Wisconsin. Expanded railway service ended the need for these local branches by the early 1900s. All Gedney factories outside of Minnesota were closed. In 1958, the Chaska branch was expanded and all pickle processing moved to this location. The company went national in 1999 to better compete with larger corporations.

In 1905, Gedney Pickles celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary. That same year, Matthias Gedney passed away. His youngest son, Isadore Vallier Gedney, succeeded him as head of the company. The company remained under the leadership of Gedney descendents. Isadore Gedney's son-in-law Harry Augustus Tuttle, II succeeded him in 1945. Harry Tuttle's son, Gedney Tuttle, took over in 1967, followed by his son, Jeffrey Tuttle in 1997. Other family members work in the factories or hold key positions.

When Gedney Pickles started in 1880, they offered only pickles. After opening a branch in Chaska in 1900, sauerkraut was added to the product line. The company soon added other vinegar-based products, such as mustard, relishes, olives, catsup (now commonly spelled ketchup), Worcestershire sauce, horseradish sauce and tobacco pepper sauce. Production has ceased on all except pickles and relishes. In 1940, bottled salad dressings were added, and in 1994, jams, both of which are still produced in the early twenty-first century. The company began its State Fair Pickle line in 1991 with two varieties. This line grew to five pickle types and four different jams in 1994. In 2002, Gedney began production of all pickles for the Del Monte and Target Archer Farms brands.

  • Cite
  • Share
  • Correct
  • Comment
  • Print
© Minnesota Historical Society
  • Bibliography
  • Related Resources

Burns, Christopher. "In the Hall of Minnesota's Pickle King: M.A. Gedney Co. Relishes the Pickle Business." Chanhassen Sailor, June 6, 1990.

Gedney Food Company. Company History.
http://www.gedneyfoods.com/Company/History

"Gedney Pickle Factory Will Locate Here." Chaska Weekly Valley Herald, February 7, 1901.

"M.A. Gedney Co. Announces New Pickle Processing Plant." Chaska Weekly Valley Herald, April 25, 1963.

"The Pickle Factory." Chaska Weekly Valley Herald, June 26, 1902.

Schettler, Joel. "Gedney's Makes Move- From 'Minnesota Pickle' to 'Minnesota Preserve. '" Chaska Herald, April 28, 1994.

Tuttle, Gedney. The Minnesota Pickle: A History of the M.A. Gedney Company. Edina, MN: Lily Pad Publishing, 2009.

Related Images

Color image of a Gedney's Pantry Pickles label, c.1935.
Color image of a Gedney's Pantry Pickles label, c.1935.
Black and white photograph of the exterior of the Chaska pickling factory showing the vats used to brine the pickles, undated.
Black and white photograph of the exterior of the Chaska pickling factory showing the vats used to brine the pickles, undated.
Black and white photograph of Matthias Gedney, c.1900.
Black and white photograph of Matthias Gedney, c.1900.
Black and white photograph of M. A. Gedney Compnay workers and vinegar barrels, c.1912.
Black and white photograph of M. A. Gedney Compnay workers and vinegar barrels, c.1912.
Black and white photograph of M. A. Company workers constructing vinegar barrels, c.1912.
Black and white photograph of M. A. Company workers constructing vinegar barrels, c.1912.
Black and white photograph of Female employees at the M. A. Gedney Company, c.1912.
Black and white photograph of Female employees at the M. A. Gedney Company, c.1912.
Black and white photograph of M. A. Gedney Company workers bottling product, c.1912.
Black and white photograph of M. A. Gedney Company workers bottling product, c.1912.
Black and white photograph of Bottling machinery at the M. A. Gedney Company, c.1912.
Black and white photograph of Bottling machinery at the M. A. Gedney Company, c.1912.
Color label for Gedney Company French Dressing, c.1935.
Color label for Gedney Company French Dressing, c.1935.
Color image of Gedney's Tomato Catsup label, c.1935.
Color image of Gedney's Tomato Catsup label, c.1935.
Color image of Gedney Sweet Midget Pickles label, c.1958.
Color image of Gedney Sweet Midget Pickles label, c.1958.
Black and white photograph of a man standing to the left of the Gedney sign, outside the Chaska factory,  c.1980s.
Black and white photograph of a man standing to the left of the Gedney sign, outside the Chaska factory,  c.1980s.

Turning Point

In 1863, Matthias Gedney gets his first job in the pickle business with Northwestern Pickle Works, beginning a lifelong passion for and business in pickles.

Chronology

1822

Matthias Anderson Gedney is born in Patterson, New Jersey on October 24.

1849

Gedney joins the California Gold Rush, starting a small trade.

1863

Gedney joins the pickle industry, working for Northwestern Pickle Works near Evanston, Illinois.

1876

Gedney joins the S.M. Dingee and Co. pickle business in Chicago, Illinois.

1879

Gedney and family move to Minneapolis, where he encourages local farmers to grow cucumbers.

1880

The M.A. Gedney Pickling Co. is founded by Matthias Gedney and two sons, Charles Bailey Gedney and John Parker Gedney.

1881

The first Gedney pickle factory opens on Lowry Avenue in Minneapolis.

1888

The M.A. Gedney Pickling Co. is incorporated on April 23.

1893

The Gedney Co. has expanded into Minneapolis, St. Paul and Chaska; Omaha and Kearney, Nebraska; and Mauston, Wisconsin.

1905

The M.A. Gedney Pickling Co. celebrates twenty-five years. That same year, Matthias Gedney passes away. His son, Isadore Vallier Gedney succeeds him as head of the company.

1958

The Chaska factory expands; all operations and pickle processing are moved to Chaska.

1991

The State Fair product line is introduced by Gedney Foods.

1999

The Gedney Food Company expands nationally through increased distribution and purchase of Del Monte pickling plants.

2002

Gedney begins production of all Del Monte and Target Archer Farms brand pickles.