The following article from The Packer's “A Century of Produce,” was published in 1993.
As The Packer prepares to publish our 125th-anniversary edition later this year, we are posting some of the writing from previous anniversary publications.
The following is a list of of The Packer's biggest milestones from 1893 to 1993:
February 1893: The Packer newspaper is founded in Kansas City, Mo., by Isaac N. Barrick, a former restaurant owner and advertising salesman for a grocery magazine.
>1903: Isaac Barrick dies of a heart attack at a hotel in Excelsior Springs, Mo. He is 45. The publication continues.
>1904: George A. Gurley, former advertising manager of the Armour Meat Packing Company, becomes president and general manager of The Packer. Barrick’s wife and daughter retain an interest in the company. Gurley expands the staff and coverage.
>1910: The Packer, which covers a wide range of commodities, primarily produce, attains a circulation of 37,500. The Packer has field representatives in 14 cities.
>1911: Roy Fellhauer joins The Packer. He will spend 50 years with the publication as an editor, general manager and columnist.
>1919: The Packer reaches an all-time high circulation of 48,000.
>1920: Gurley establishes The Produce Packer, which covers poultry and eggs. The Packer devotes almost all its coverage to fruits and vegetables.
>1924: The Packer, which has long been reporting on shady produce dealers and bad credit risks, creates a credit rating book and service, The Red Book.
>1927: A libel suit against The Packer for $100,000 is dismissed. The suit is filed by Aaron Sapiro, an organizer of what The Packer calls fraudulent grower marketing cooperatives. In these years, The Packer often is sued for libel because of its policy of “exposing crook” in the produce business.
>1930: The Packer supports federal legislation creating the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act that establishes fair dealing rules in the produce business.
>1939: George A. Gurley dies. His son, George H. Gurley, takes over the running of the company.
>1948: Gurley forms The Packer Publishing Co., which is partly owned by the employees.
>1950: Dick Whiting is named Packer editor. Whiting, a self-educated high school dropout, joined The Packer in 1921 and would spend 45 years with the publication. He retired as editor in 1966.
>1964: George H. Gurley sells The Packer Publishing Co. to the larger family-owned Vance Publishing Corp. of Chicago, publishers of business and trade magazines. Jim Connell, Packer sales manager, takes over management of The Packer.
>1967: With the backing of Vance, Connell modernizes the printing of The Packer. Production is shifted from an old hot metal printing plant to a modern offset plant in Sedalia, Mo. Connell adds more color and more new sections.
>1968: The Grower magazine is created as a spinoff from The Packer. The Packer becomes more focused on packing, shipping and retailing of produce, and on international coverage as the industry first begins to globalize. “Ideas in Merchandising” is published as a supplement. This is an attempt to create a generic promotion program for produce directed at retailers and consumers. Later, this will become a separate magazine, Produce Merchandising.
>1971: Produce Availability and Merchandising Guide begins publication.
>1972: The Packer expands coverage to include flowers and plants sold in supermarkets. These flower supplements eventually become a separate publication now called Supermarket Floral.
>1980: The old “field man” system is phased out. Under the direction of Connell, Bill Coon, Packer vice president and publishing director of the produce division of Vance, and Packer editor Paul Campbell there is a clear split made between the editorial and business functions of the staff. More editors and field reporters are added. Starting in 1978, coverage in Washington, D.C., is expanded.
>1983: The Packer begins sponsoring consumer research about produce purchasing habits, attitudes and beliefs. The annual series was titled “Fresh Trends” in 1986.
>1984: Vance launches Pronet, a computerized business information system for produce firms. Although Pronet has a separate staff, it makes use of The Packer’s resources.
>1985: Bill O’Neill is named editor of The Packer.
>1987: Jan Kessinger is sales director. O’Neill and Kessinger were named associate publishers in April 1987. New emphasis is put on analysis, in-depth reports, graphics, photography and marketing services.
>1990: Title of annual Focus magazine for consumer research changes to Fresh Trends.
>1991: The Packer is redesigned to make it more compartmentalized and “reader friendly.”
>1993: The Packer reaches the century mark as the dominant publication serving the produce industry in North America and with expanded coverage in many parts of the world.