|The first commercial gelatine came in
sheet form and needed a long soaking before it could be used. In 1889,
Charles B. Knox of Johnstown, New York discovered a method of granulating
gelatine which turned it into the practical, easy-to-use, standby of
modern cooks and home entertainers.
Knox quickly became known for his revolutionary marketing techniques. From brash slogans to innovative advertising, his unorthodox ways earned him the title of “the Napoleon of Advertising” and a successful business. When Charles Knox died in 1908, he left his wife to run the largest unflavoured gelatine manufacturing company in the world.
Upon assuming responsibility for Knox® Gelatine, she re-evaluated her husband’s business methods and elaborate advertising stunts. She sold off her husband’s many peripheral business ventures and concentrated on selling gelatine to the American housewife. She reasoned, gelatine was bought and used by women; and women were more interested in foods that were economical, nutritious and easy to prepare. She set up a test kitchen and developed hundreds of recipes which were printed on Knox® packages, on leaflets and in illustrated cookbooks. They also appeared in newspapers and magazines under the heading “Mrs. Knox says…” It was through her efforts that gelatine evolved from a delicacy and invalid food into a common household staple.
Mrs. Knox operated the company for over 40 years. Under her direction, the company expanded enormously. A larger plant was opened in 1911, and by 1925 the firm was capitalized at $1 million. In 1916, Mrs. Knox bought a half interest in the Kind and Landesmann firm of Camden, New Jersey, from which Knox firm had been buying gelatine, and in 1930 she became vice president of the Kind and Knox Gelatine Company. She built a new plant in Camden to produce flavoured gelatine in 1936. The Knox company became and remains today the leading manufacturer and distributor of gelatine, selling 60% of its product to home and institutional consumers and 40% for industrial and medical use.
Rose Knox is recognized as one of America’s foremost business women and the first female member of the American Grocery Manufacturers’ Association and in 1929 became its first female director. She retired from the presidency of Knox in 1947 in favour of her son James and took the title of Chairman of the Board. Mrs. Knox died in 1950 at the age of 93. Her dedication to the company is evident by the fact that she was still serving as the Chairman of the Board of Directors at the time of her death.
Rose Knox was succeeded by her son James. Under James’ direction, the company continued its heritage of innovation. In the late 1920’s, Knox produced the first pharmaceutical gelatine, used to encapsulate vitamins and medication. These were the first “gel caps”. James Knox is also responsible for the development of the “plasma extender”, an intravenous solution used as a blood plasma substitute during WorldWar II.
When James Knox died in 1958, his son became president of the company. Carrying on the family tradition, John Knox provided consumers with recipes and information that focused on diet and nail care. The Knox® Eat and Reduce Plan and Knox® Drink for Nails proved to be popular with the growing number of health conscious consumers.
The Knox family managed their gelatine business for three generations before being acquired by Thomas J. Lipton Inc. in 1972.
Twenty eight years later, Associated Brands Inc. acquired the Canadian Knox® Gelatine and business assets from Lipton Canada, a division of Unilever Canada Limited.
More than one hundred years since the brand was first introduced, Knox® Unflavoured Gelatine is still as timely as ever. As a low-calorie, pure protein food, it fits perfectly into modern lifestyles as an essential ingredient for light, healthful cooking.
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