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Milo C. Jones, inducted into the Wisconsin Meat Industry Hall of Fame in 1994, founded Jones Dairy Farm in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin in 1889. In 1832, Milo C.’s father, a government surveyor also named Milo, moved from Vermont to Fort Atkinson along with his wife Sally and two children. Among their possessions was a family recipe for sausage that years later would become the cornerstone of the family business.
The sausage that the Jones family made was a favorite among neighbors in Fort Atkinson but it was Milo C. who first had the idea of commercially producing the sausage. Unfortunately, at the early age of 35, Milo C. was stricken with arthritis–which was called rheumatism in those days. Within a few years, he was badly crippled and used a wheelchair. However, despite his affliction, he decided to take the family recipe and turn it into a business because he realized there was a market for high-quality pork sausage. Milo's production of pork sausage was unique. Instead of pork trimmings, he made his sausage using ham, loin, and shoulder cuts.
Milo began selling sausage to Wisconsin grocers, neighbors and friends but soon set his sights on larger markets such as Chicago, New York and Boston, and began delivering product by rail. Unlike most sausage makers of the day, Milo began advertising heavily. Although Jones began with direct mail, the company was soon advertising in national magazines like Saturday Evening Post, Literary Digest and Good Housekeeping as early as 1903.
Jones Dairy Farm established a number of industry firsts. In the 1920s Jones was the first meatpacking company to quick-freeze sausage, facilitating shipping throughout the U.S. and abroad without the need for chemicals and preservatives. The company was also the first to introduce a line of fully cooked breakfast sausage and one of the first to offer a “light” breakfast sausage product.
Jones also became one of the first meatpacking companies to operate a modern bacteriological laboratory on-site to monitor and test for food safety. The company is one of a handful of companies (and the only privately owned company) that meets the standards of the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation, a nonprofit public service dedicated to the formal recognition of testing laboratories, inspection bodies and proficiency testing.
Jones Dairy Farm is still a family-owned and family-managed company. After Milo C. Jones' death in 1919, he was followed as president by his daughter, Mary. She was followed as president by her nephew, Alan Jones, in 1960 and then by his brother Edward Jones in the 1970s, and another Milo C. Jones (Alan's son), who became president in 1983. Edward C. Jones, Jr. (son of Edward) became the seventh president in 1995 and his son Philip Jones, the great-great grandson of company founder Milo C., became the president and CEO in 2001, marking the start of the sixth generation of Joneses to lead the company.
Set on 300 acres (120 ha) in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, the Jones Dairy Farm property encompasses the Jones factory, crop fields, and the original Farmhouse where Milo Jones I settled in 1843. The Secretary of the Interior on December 27, 1978, listed the property on the National Register of Historic Places. The original farmhouse is still depicted on all Jones Dairy Farm product packaging.
The company is best known for breakfast sausage that uses a recipe that has been in the Jones family for more than 180 years. The recipe, created from all-natural ingredients and spices, has remained unchanged. In addition to sausage, the company also produces high quality hams, bacon, Canadian bacon, liver sausage and scrapple for both retail and foodservice customers.
The company currently offers almost 50 items certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization, a program of the Gluten Intolerance Group. Jones also joined the effort to help promote awareness for celiac disease patients, families and health care professionals by becoming a sponsor of the Celiac Disease Foundation and is a benefactor member of the Celiac Sprue Association (CSA) to assist their efforts to help individuals with celiac disease worldwide through education, research and support.