all over world by aqua-blue label
By Joanne Hammer
No one would guess
Hulman & Co. used to be a small dry goods store at the edge
of a dirt-paved town.
The company known for producing Clabber Girl Baking Powder is
now recognized practically everywhere by the product's aqua-blue
label showing a smiling girl holding a plate of biscuits.
It began with Herman Hulman, who emigrated from Hanover, Germany
with encouragement from his brother, Francis. He joined his brother's
grocery business until Francis died on a ship headed to Germany.
Herman Hulman, 27, continued to run the wholesale store at Fifth
Street and Wabash Avenue (then known as "Main" Street).
In 1869, he added a liquor house and spice mill, which could
roast up to 100 sacks of coffee a day, according to documents
with the Vigo County Historical Society.
Ever inventive, Herman installed Terre Haute's first telephone,
which ran from his wholesale business to a distillery he owned
near the Fairbanks Park area, said April Osburn, Clabber Girl
museum tour guide and bake shop assistant manager.
His ingenuity expanded into baking powder, which fit into his
store's product lines and would give his business a competitive
At the time, baking powder was made from a mixture of baked fireplace
ash and sour milk, called "clabber." The ingredients
produced inconsistent results, no doubt frustrating many cooks.
In the late 1800s, Herman developed a formula for Milk Brand
baking powder, which he perfected during the next 40 years.
As Herman's business grew, so did the need for a larger building.
In 1889, he bought property at Ninth Street and Wabash Avenue,
where the old Pig & Whistle tavern stood. The new Hulman
& Co. wholesale building opened in 1892 and customers jammed
the building during its grand opening.
The early 1900s was an age that nurtured ingenuity. The baking
powder was a dream to housewives, who could open a can and have
their biscuits taste the same every time.
From the 1930s to the 1940s, Tony Hulman Jr. began a national
advertising campaign for Clabber Girl. Signs, similar to billboards,
were hung on barns and fences throughout the country. Instead
of cash payment for the use of their property, farmers would
receive items from the Hulman & Co. catalog.
As people began to cook less at home, Hulman & Co. changed
its focus and began to market to food service industries, said
Marla DeHart, Clabber Girl executive director of corporate operations.
The general merchandise and grocery business closed in 1995 and
the company added cornstarch, baking soda and a multi-purpose
baking mix to their product line. In 2003, the company bought
Delisheries, a line of dry cookie and brownie mixes sold to fund-raising
The success that followed Herman Hulman has remained with Hulman
& Co. Although Hulman & Co. exports its products to 32
nations, the company remains family-owned and promotes a family
atmosphere for its 155 employees.
A museum opened in 2002 displaying the history of Clabber Girl
and the technology of the time.
A year later, Antonia's Country Store and bake shop opened -
where customers can get the same Rex brand coffee that was ground
in the 1800s.
Joanne Hammer can be reached at (812) 231-4214 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Labels: Labels for the smaller cans of
Clabber Girl baking powder roll around a spindle before being
glued to cans.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT CLABBER GIRL/HULMAN
- The most popular Clabber Girl size is the 10-ounce
can. Hulman & Co. also makes a 22-ounce can and a 5-pound
- Double-acting baking powder means it reacts to liquid and heat.
Clabber Girl has a 30 percent reaction to liquid and a 70 percent
reaction to heat.
- Clabber Brand baking powder was changed to Clabber Girl in
1923, when the Food and Drug Administration changed its labeling
- Hulman & Co. bought Rumford Baking Powder in 1950 and moved
the production to Terre Haute. The formula was the first calcium
phosphate baking powder.
Find out more at the Clabber Girl museum
Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m.-3
p.m. Saturday. For a guided tour, call (812) 232-9446.
Source: Hulman & Co.