Good Humor Ice Cream Pays 25% Dividend in 1929
The Good Humor company started in Youngstown, Ohio by Harry Burt during the early 1920’s and covered most of the country by the mid 1930’s. Good Humor eventualy became a fixture in American popular culture.
In 1919, Christian Nelson, an Iowa store owner, discovered how to coat an ice cream bar with chocolate, inventing the Eskimo Pie.
In January 1922, Burt applied for patents, which were not granted until October 1923 because the patent office thought Good Humors were too similar to Eskimo Pies. The patents were only granted when Burt Jr. traveled to Washington, D.C,, with samples to demonstrate the difference.
Frank Epperston started marketing frozen ice on a stick and formed the Popsicle Corporation. Six months after Popsicle received its patent in August 1924, Good Humor sued Popsicle Corporation, and by October 1925 the parties settled out of court. Popsicle agreed to pay Good Humor a license fee to manufacture what was called frozen suckers from ice and sherbet products. Good Humor reserved the right to manufacture these products from ice cream, frozen custard, and the like.
Harry Burt died in 1926, and two years later his widow sold her interest to the Midland Food Products Company, owned by a group of Cleveland businessmen. They changed the company’s name to the Good Humor Corporation of America and started selling franchises with a $100 down payment. Cora Burt retained the license agreement with Popsicle. Thomas J. Brimer purchased the Good Humor franchise for the Detroit territory and by 1929 opened his second plant in Chicago. The mob demanded $5,000 protection money and destroyed part of the Chicago fleet when Brimer refused. The resulting publicity helped put Good Humor on the map.
Brimer’s father-in-law was a friend of Michael J. Meehan, a controversial New York stock speculator who made a small investment in Brimer’s operation. When Brimer paid a 25% dividend in 1929, Meehan financed the acquisition of 75% of Good Humor of America for $500,000. Meehan’s wife, Elizabeth Higgins Meehan, was the registered owner of the stock along with Mrs. John J. Raskob, the wife of another New York stock speculator.
In 1931, Good Humor reported a net profit of $452,105, almost as much as Meehan paid for the company.
In 1961, Good Humor was acquired by Thomas J. Lipton, the U.S. subsidiary of the international Unilever conglomerate.
Starting in 1989, Unilever expanded Good Humor through its acquisition of Gold Bond Ice Cream that included the Popsicle brand. Four years later, Unilever bought Isaly Klondike and the Breyers Ice Cream Company. Good Humor-Breyers is now a large producer of branded ice cream and frozen novelties with nine plants around the country.
Tags: Breyers, Dividend, Eskimo Pies, Gold Bond Ice Cream, Good Humor, Good Humor Corporation of America, Good Humor Ice Cream, Michael J Meehan, Midland Food Products Company, New York Stock Speculator, Popsicle, Unilever