Interesting History of Folgers Coffee

For most of the American households, the presence of the iconic red Folgers coffee tin in the pantry is a must. Waking up to the delicious aroma and the sensational taste of the Folgers coffee is a feeling that numerous people relate to very strongly. You can still catch many people humming the famous jingle of the Folgers coffee, “The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup”. 

Folgers is one of the pioneers in the coffee business in the USA. The company has always believed in prioritizing customer satisfaction over earning money. It has built an unmatched persona of its coffee with millions of loyal consumers. Due to the company’s strong belief in high-quality coffee, the Folgers is known to have changed America’s outlook on coffee. It has set the bar high for its competitors and has constantly been evolving for the sole purpose of providing the best coffee to its customers. 

Folgers History A Timeline 

The whole journey of Folgers is inspired by the perseverance and resilience of its founder, James Folger. James Folger was an extremely motivated and focused kid at the age of 14 when he came to San Francisco with his brothers. The brothers had come for the search of gold from Nantucket, following a major fire that destroyed their family’s entire livelihood. 

  • 1850

With a passionate soul and an intelligent mind, James Folger opted out from the gold search and stayed in San Francisco instead.  It was 1850, and most of the Californians jumped at the idea of roasted and ground coffee available in the market when Pioneer Steam Coffee and Spice Mills started the business. William H. Bovee was the founder of this company, and he had hired James Folger. 

A year after working at the mill and later on having some luck in finding gold, James Folger had a stake in the company. Also, while going away for hunting gold, Folgers was able to establish networks with various grocers to stock and sell their coffee. Later on, Folgers fully acquired the company and renamed it as J.A. Folger & Co. 

  • 1854

1854 was the year Folgers became a trend-setter in the coffee roasting industry. Almost all of the coffee imported in the US at that time was bought based on appearance. There was no concept of tasting the coffee beans first. James Folgers changed the face of importing coffee in the country and for the first time, conceived the idea of cup-testing. 

J.A. Folger & Co. started tasting the coffee beans before importing them to redefine the standard of coffee for its consumers. The company settled on Mountain-Grown beans because of their superior taste and high-end quality.

  • 1880 

The early 1880s brought about a major hit to the company as James A. Folger, aged 54, passed away. It was his son’s turn to build upon the foundation his father had laid and made his dreams come true. James A. Folger II passionately took over the task and made a point to pursue his father’s dreams. 

It is documented that besides practical learning, James A. Folgers II had found great inspiration in one of his father’s letters to him. The letter reflected the passionate spirit of James Folgers and said, “money-making was always secondary to a good reputation.”

  • 1889 

The end of the decade saw exponential growth in the company, and it was all due to an ardent and hardworking salesman, Frank P. Atha. Atha was the one who introduced Folgers outside California by urging the grocers to sell Folgers coffee.

Atha convinced the store owners to stock and sell Folgers coffee by sending samples. It was purely based on merit and true taste that Folgers started becoming a hot favorite among consumers outside California. Atha was truly a loyal employee of Folgers coffee, and diligently worked towards making the company into a big hit. He often used to design the in-store displays for the coffee samples. 

  • 1900 

With the start of the new millennia, the Great San Francisco earthquake shook the whole city to the core. It had also affected the newly-built factory of the Folgers coffee, but the business survived. With the massive earthquake, came an uncontrolled fire that destroyed most of the city. The surviving building of the Folgers coffee factory served as a host to the US Marines for their relief operations. 

Folgers coffee kept the spirits high and did not abandon its mission of prioritizing the consumers first – they provided free coffee to the citizens and won their hearts. 

  • The 1940s 

During the catastrophic times of World War II, Folgers coffee improvised its packaging from steel to glass jars. The war had brought about a severe shortage of metal, and even that did not keep the relentless nature of the Folgers coffee from serving its consumers. 

Glass jars were prepared for distribution with special waxed cardboard lids that helped trap the real taste and aroma of the coffee. As the war called for numerous factory workers to perform their heroic duty, numerous executives and salespeople also came forward to help overcome the shortage of workers in packaging. 

  • 1953 – Jumping On The Instant Coffee Bandwagon 

As a company that has never stopped evolving, Folgers coffee released its instant coffee in the year 1953. However, it was discontinued due to not being up to the mark for Folgers’ consumers. The company kept on working till it came up with the Folgers instant coffee that lived up to their reputation. It was released in 1958, and the consumers loved it. 

  • 1960 – A New Home For Folgers 

Since many shipping routes were destroyed or changed due to the war, Folgers coffee decided to establish a new home. New Orleans became one of the hubs of green-coffee markets in the country. Thus, Folgers initiated the construction of its coffee factory in New Orleans in 1960. 

Notable Advertising Campaigns 

  • Mrs. Olson 

After a while, the Folgers coffee brand was acquired by Procter & Gamble. This acquisition resulted in one of the most successful advertising campaigns in the history of the country. Mrs. Olson, a Swedish lady, was seen recommending Folgers coffee to her neighbors and the viewers loved it! 

Mrs. Olson was a super hit and represented Folgers coffee for about 20 years. From commercials to billboards and posters, Mrs. Olson was everywhere, and the whole of the US adored her. 

  • The Great Folgers Switch 

Folgers coffee pulled a successful stunt with the infamous slogan, “The Great Folgers Switch”. To convince people about their Folgers Crystals, the company, in collaboration with numerous high-end restaurants, switched regular coffee with Folgers Crystals. 

Coffee lovers loved it, and the slogan took a toll. It became famous, and the consumers were convinced about the quality and taste of the Folgers Crystals. 

  • The Best Part of Wakin’ Up is Folgers in Your Cup 

This advertising campaign still resonates with the loyal customers of Folgers coffee. This jingle became one of the most talked-about and repeated jingles of all times. Americans relate to this slogan differently according to when they came across it. Some remember it as a sweet reminisce of their carefree childhood while for some, it is their hectic workdays when only Folgers cup of coffee could wake them up.  

Continuously Evolving 

As if on a quest to satisfy its consumers to the fullest, Folgers coffee has continuously been evolving for the sake of its consumers. Folgers coffee opted for a major change in their packaging in 2002 and introduced the newly developed canisters that were designed to trap the rich aroma of their coffee. 

Due to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Folgers coffee came out to help its employees and offered temporary housing schemes for them. The Folgers coffee factory was on the frontlines of helping to bring the city back to its feet after the hurricane. 

Since 2008, Folgers coffee has been a part of The J.M. Smucker Company and has been the top favorite coffee brand in the country. 

Final Words 

Resilience and persistence are fundamental points to achieve long-term success. Businesses do not survive on money only – customer satisfaction is the ultimate key to rule the industry. The history of Folgers coffee is not only interesting but also very inspiring. The company has come forward as the key helper in numerous difficult times. It has put the satisfaction of its consumers above all, and it is this passion of the company that has taken it to the top.