This article was written by Samuel Phineas Upham
The Corn Products Refining Company of New York and Chicago was formed in 1901, and launched its flagship product on May 13th of that year. It shipped both light and dark versions of its corn syrup, and named the concoction after the wife of the chemist who created it, Caroline.
Prior to Karo’s release, the American house wife had a jug that she carried with her to the grocery store. There, she would receive a refill from the barrels of sugar the grocer had. Karo changed all of that in a convenient disposable container.
The product was well-received and marketed to the masses with a “friction top” tin that allowed for easy access to the syrup. The syrup was often advertised in ladies magazines, as a spread for white bread. It was advertised as a sweet treat to be consumed at breakfast, lunch or dinner. The ads were often full page, and full of eleven different recipes that kids would love and parents would value for nutrition.
The president of the Corn Products Refining Company launched an ambitious ad campaign to bring national awareness to his syrup. The company published an edition of its Karo cookbook, which included 120 different recipes worth preparing.
Then, the company found a way to ensure its products would live forever. The wife of one of the sales executives was playing with the syrup in her kitchen when she figured out how to make pecan pie. The use of Karo syrup was so important to the recipe, that Southerners still call it Karo pie today.
About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Samuel Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Samuel Phineas Upham website.