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.

Home / Our History

Flavoring Every Moment

2000 - Today

2023

Watkins launches Yellowstone Seasonings & Rubs in partnership with Paramount and FoodStory Brands under the Eat Yellowstone product line.

2023

Watkins launches Spiced Orange and Cinnamon Apple Bourbon Whiskey with Natural Flavors.

2022

Watkins launches Aromatic and Orange Bitters.

2021

Watkins launches its 1868 Organic Grilling line of products featuring Seasonings, Rubs and Marinades.

2018

The 150th Anniversary Celebration was held over two days in September and featured manufacturing tours, live music, and plenty of food.

2018

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.

2018

Watkins launches a new line of organic spices, herbs and seasoning blends.

2006

Watkins introduces organic spices, continuing its commitment to offering healthier and more suitable products.

2005

The Watkins Administration Building and manufacturing plant are placed on The National Registry of Historical Places.

2002

Watkins launches a Food Service/Hospitality program offering high-quality spices, seasoning, and extracts.

Modern Taste

1950 - 2000

1998

Watkins begins to focus products around healthy living.

1995

Watkins celebrates its 125th Anniversary.

1988

Watkins expands its product line to include sauces, marinades and snack seasonings.

1980

Watkins returns its focus back to its core heritage products such as spices, extracts, and remedies.

1978

Watkins is sold to Minnesota businessman Irwin L. Jacobs ending 110 years of Watkins family ownership.

1973

Watkins introduces new line of gourmet food products under the J. Zachary label.

1968

Watkins celebrates its 100 year anniversary.

1966

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.

1960

As part of an ongoing national advertising campaign, Watkins sponsors Dave Garroway's Today Show on NBC.

1955

Watkins introduces its first modern catalog that features product descriptions, an illustration, and price for each item.

1953

By 1953 Watkins product were sold in the United States, Canada, South Africa and Australia.

History in the Making

1900 - 1950

1944

90% of Watkins production goes to the World War II effort.

1939

Watkins begins offering tours of the Watkins Headquarters, Manufacturing Plant and Research Farm. Up to 250,000 people a year would visit Watkins.

1932

During the Great Depression, Watkins Special Bargains Offers allowed families to lower their food costs and purchase items they would otherwise find unaffordable.

1930

Watkins introduces three flavors of Dessert Mixes - Chocolate, Coconut, and Lemon.

1928

Watkins Vanilla & Spices win the Gold Medal for the Highest Quality at the 1928 Paris International Exposition in Paris, France.

1950

In 1912, Watkins offers a selection of 10 different herbs & spices and 11 different extracts & flavorings.

1911

J.R. Watkins dies at age 71, the same year the Watkins Administration Building was completed.

1905

The Watkins Shipping Department begins using the recently invented electric truck to move finished product.

1900

Watkins publishes it's first Almanac.

The Early Years

1868 - 1900

1895

Watkins introduces Vanilla Extract, Black Pepper, and Cinnamon.

1894

The company discontinues the Dr. Ward's name and incorporates the business as the J.R. Watkins Medical Company.

1893

25th Anniversary of the start of the business.

1885

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.

1900

J.R. Watkins officially files the copyright and patent for Dr. Ward's Celebrated Liniment.

1869

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.

1868

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.

Ready to purchase your favorite Watkins products?

Click below to show all of your favorite Watkins Spices, Extracts,
Flavors, & More and have them delivered straight to your door.

SHOP WATKINS