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Name:    Ralston Purina
Profession:  Merchant
Born/Started:    1894
Description:    In 1894, William Danforth and two associates manufactured a formula feed product for horses and mules. They started a company to sell their feed and called it Robinson-Danforth Commission Company. Two years later they lost everything in a tornado. Danforth started over with the help of a business loan and built a mill at Eighth and Gratiot . He expanded into food products for people as well as animals. In 1898 Danforth met a miller who had discovered a way to prevent rancidity. He then packaged the miller´s cracked wheat and sold it to St. Louis grocers under the name Purina Whole Wheat Cereal. The word Purina had been coined from the company slogan, "where purity is paramount." Danforth then sought Dr. Ralston, a proponent of health foods, and worked with him to develop Ralston Whole Wheat Cereal. By 1902 the firm was officially changed to Ralston-Purina, encompassing the two names that had been so well received. It was at this time that Danforth also created the red checkerboard logo that would stand as Ralston Purina´s trademark. Even Company headquarters in St. Louis is known as Checkerboard Square. The word "chow" was added to its animal food while Danforth was in the army. Noticing how enthusiastically soldiers reacted to the word "chow", he added it to the names of all the company´s livestock and poultry feed. In 1920, Danforth´s son, Donald, joined the firm, and was responsible for opening the 337 acre research farm located in Gray Summit that experiments with feed, management and sanitation projects. Wheat and rice chex were introduced and in 1957 Purina Dog Chow was made available for distribution in grocery stores. Today it is still the largest producer of dog and cat foods. In 1962, the same year that Ralston Purina was listed on the New York Stock Exchange, a fire broke out in the manufacturing plant, killing two workers and hospitalizing 35 others. By this time Ralston Purina manufactured food products that included cereals, crackers and tuna. In 1968, Ralston Purina acquired Foodmaker which led to the acquisition of the Jack in the Box Restaurants and it also invested in Keystone Resort in Colorado. It expanded into many other restaurant acquisitions and throughout the United States and overseas. In 1977, the company became involved in the floriculture industry with the acquisition of Green Thumb and Deco-Plants Company. It also bought the St. Louis Blues and the Arena for the hockey team to play in. The Arena was renamed the "Checkerdome." Some later acquisitions included Continental Baker(1984), Eveready Batteries(1986) and Beech-Nut(1989). In 1994, Ralston spun off its cereal and smaller grocery human food businesses into a freestanding company named Ralcorp. The spin-off included Bremner, Beech-Nut Nutrition Corporation, Keystone and Breckenridge ski resorts and American Redemption Systems. In 1999, Everready Batteries was spun off into its own company. In 2001 Nestlé S.A. and Ralston Purina entered into a definitive merger agreement which should be completed by the end of 2002. [St. Louis Portrait, p. 224, http://www.purina.com/company/profile/timeline.asp]

Danforth II, William H.

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