A 1997 Minnesota Historical Society plaque at a rest area near the state line on I-35 tells a bit about the history of Minnesota’s canneries.
Early settlers grew bumper wheat crops on Minnesota’s fertile prairies, land that today supplies produce for a thriving 270-million-dollars-a-year canning industry.
Sweet corn canneries opened in Austin and Mankato in the 1880s, followed soon thereafter by similar factories in Faribault, Owatonna, and LaSueur. Soon Minnesota’s canners were experimenting with new technologies and new products, and in 1903 the automated Big Stone Canning Company founded by F. W. Douthitt changed the industry nationwide. Douthitt’s plant in Ortonville had a conveyor system, mechanical corn husking machines, and a power driven cutter that produced the first whole kernel canned corn. The Green Giant Company, also founded in 1903 as the Minnesota Valley Canning Company, introduced golden cream-style corn in 1924 and the first vacuum packed corn in 1929.
Corn is still the major canning crop in Minnesota. The state’s more than thirty plants also freeze and can peas, beans, carrots, tomatoes, pork, beef, chicken products, and such unusual items as rutabagas. Mankato was the site of the nation’s first carp cannery in 1946.
For more on canned carp, read Dumneazu‘s well-illustrated blogpost on the Odessa Fish Market. In fact, just keep scrolling for an incomparable travelogue series on Dumneazu’s recent adventures in Ukraine.