A Natural History
From a bluff high above the Mississippi River in Winona, Minnesota to the same factory we’ve made our all-natural products in for the last 155 years, Watkins’ commitment to pure flavor has persisted throughout our history and continues today in the kitchens of families everywhere.
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Flavoring Every Moment
2000 - Today
Watkins launches Yellowstone Seasonings & Rubs in partnership with Paramount and FoodStory Brands under the Eat Yellowstone product line.
Watkins launches Spiced Orange and Cinnamon Apple Bourbon Whiskey with Natural Flavors.
Watkins launches Aromatic and Orange Bitters.
Watkins launches its 1868 Organic Grilling line of products featuring Seasonings, Rubs and Marinades.
The 150th Anniversary Celebration was held over two days in September and featured manufacturing tours, live music, and plenty of food.
During the Watkins 150th Anniversary Celebration in September 2018, Watkins became the title holder for the Guinness World Records "Greatest Number of Layers in a Layer Cake". Watkins' Guinness World Records title holding cake had a total of 260 layers.
Watkins launches a new line of organic spices, herbs and seasoning blends.
Watkins introduces organic spices, continuing its commitment to offering healthier and more suitable products.
The Watkins Administration Building and manufacturing plant are placed on The National Registry of Historical Places.
Watkins launches a Food Service/Hospitality program offering high-quality spices, seasoning, and extracts.
1950 - 2000
Watkins begins to focus products around healthy living.
Watkins celebrates its 125th Anniversary.
Watkins expands its product line to include sauces, marinades and snack seasonings.
Watkins returns its focus back to its core heritage products such as spices, extracts, and remedies.
Watkins is sold to Minnesota businessman Irwin L. Jacobs ending 110 years of Watkins family ownership.
Watkins introduces new line of gourmet food products under the J. Zachary label.
Watkins celebrates its 100 year anniversary.
To increase the size of its salesforce, Watkins begins recruiting women to become Independent Watkins Dealers through an ad campaign in magazines such as Good Housekeeping and Ebony.
As part of an ongoing national advertising campaign, Watkins sponsors Dave Garroway's Today Show on NBC.
Watkins introduces its first modern catalog that features product descriptions, an illustration, and price for each item.
By 1953 Watkins product were sold in the United States, Canada, South Africa and Australia.
History in the Making
1900 - 1950
90% of Watkins production goes to the World War II effort.
Watkins begins offering tours of the Watkins Headquarters, Manufacturing Plant and Research Farm. Up to 250,000 people a year would visit Watkins.
During the Great Depression, Watkins Special Bargains Offers allowed families to lower their food costs and purchase items they would otherwise find unaffordable.
Watkins introduces three flavors of Dessert Mixes - Chocolate, Coconut, and Lemon.
Watkins Vanilla & Spices win the Gold Medal for the Highest Quality at the 1928 Paris International Exposition in Paris, France.
In 1912, Watkins offers a selection of 10 different herbs & spices and 11 different extracts & flavorings.
J.R. Watkins dies at age 71, the same year the Watkins Administration Building was completed.
The Watkins Shipping Department begins using the recently invented electric truck to move finished product.
Watkins publishes it's first Almanac.
The Early Years
1868 - 1900
Watkins introduces Vanilla Extract, Black Pepper, and Cinnamon.
The company discontinues the Dr. Ward's name and incorporates the business as the J.R. Watkins Medical Company.
25th Anniversary of the start of the business.
J.R. Watkins relocates his family and company from Plainview, MN to Winona, MN. At the time, Winona was Minnesota's third largest city and had thriving lumber and flour milling industries.
J.R. Watkins officially files the copyright and patent for Dr. Ward's Celebrated Liniment.
J.R. Watkins launched the Watkins Trial-Mark in 1869. The Trial-Mark is believed to be the first money-back guarantee in America. Molded into the glass bottle, about one-third of the way down, was a mark that showed how much of the product a customer could use and still get a refund.
Dr. Richard Ward sells the rights to Dr. Ward's Celebrated liniment to J.R. Watkins for $100. J.R. begins manufacturing liniment in the kitchen of his home in Plainview, MN.