Type Subsidiary of Kraft Foods
Industry Food processing
Founded East Hanover, New Jersey U.S. (1898)
Headquarters Hanover, New Jersey, U.S.
Products Cookies, crackers
Parent Kraft Foods

Nabisco (pronounced /nəˈbɪskoʊ/; originally known as the National Biscuit Company) is an American brand of cookies and snacks. Headquartered in East Hanover, New Jersey, the company is a subsidiary of Illinois-based Kraft Foods. Nabisco's plant in Chicago, a 1,800,000-square-foot (170,000 m2) production facility at 7300 S. Kedzie Avenue, is the largest bakery in the world, employing more than 1,500 workers and turning out some 320 million pounds of snack foods annually.

Its products include Chips Ahoy!, Fig Newtons, Mallomars, Oreos, Ritz Crackers, Teddy Grahams, Triscuits, Wheat Thins, Social Tea, Nutter Butter, Peek Freans, Chicken in a Biskit, used for the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico and Venezuela as well as other parts of South America.

Nabisco products are branded as Kraft in some other countries. All Nabisco cookie or cracker products are branded Christie in Canada; however, prior to the Post Cereals merger, the cereal division kept the Nabisco name in Canada. The proof of purchase on their products is marketed as a "brand seal".

Nabisco opened corporate offices as the National Biscuit Company in the world's first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building in the Chicago Loop in 1898.[1]


The Nabisco trademark imprinted on an Oreo cookie

Nabisco's trademark,[2] a diagonal ellipse with a series of antenna-like lines protruding from the top, forms the base of its logo and can be seen imprinted on Oreo wafers in addition to Nabisco product boxes and literature. It has been claimed in company promotional material to be an early European symbol for quality; it may be derived from a medieval Italian printer's mark that represented "the triumph of the moral and good over the evil and worldly." Oreo cookies in Canada do not have the Nabisco Orb, as they are branded as Christie in that country. Elsewhere, the packaging is branded with the Kraft logo.


Company time line

  • 1792 - Pearson & Sons Bakery opens in Massachusetts. They make a biscuit called pilot bread consumed on long sea voyages.
  • 1801 - Josiah Bent Bakery first coined the term 'crackers' for a crunchy biscuit they produce.
  • 1889 - William Moore acquires Pearson & Sons Bakery, Josiah Bent Bakery, and six other bakeries to start the New York Biscuit Company.
  • 1890 - Adolphus Green starts the American Biscuit & Manufacturing Company after acquiring forty different bakeries.
  • 1898 - William Moore and Adolphus Green merge to form the National Biscuit Company. Adolphus Green is president.
  • 1901 - The name Nabisco is first used as part of a name for a sugar wafer.
  • 1971 - Nabisco becomes the corporate name.
  • 1973 - Frank Tasco is listed as the chairman of Nabisco.
  • 1981 - Nabisco merges with Standard Brands.
  • 1985 - Nabisco Brands merges with R.J. Reynolds
  • 1993 - Kraft General Foods acquires NABISCO ready-to-eat cold cereals from RJR Nabisco.
  • 1999 - Nabisco acquires Favorite Brands International
  • 2000 - Philip Morris Companies, Inc. acquires Nabisco and merges it with Kraft Foods, Inc.
  • 2011 - Kraft Foods announced it was splitting making the snack food business a separate company.[3]


Nabisco dates its founding to 1898,[4] a decade during which the bakery business underwent a major consolidation. Early in the decade, bakeries throughout the country were consolidated regionally, into companies such as Chicago's American Biscuit and Manufacturing Company (which was formed from 40 Midwestern bakeries in 1830), the New York Biscuit Company (consisting of seven eastern bakeries), and the United States Baking Company. In 1898, the National Biscuit Company was formed from the combination of those three; the merger resulted in a company with 114 bakeries across the United States and headquartered in New York City. The "biscuit" in the name of the company is a British English and early American English term for cracker products.

Key to the founding of Nabisco was Pittsburgh baking mogul Sylvester S Marvin. Marvin arrived in Pittsburgh in 1863 and established himself in the cracker business, founding S. S. Marvin Co. Its products embraced every description of crackers, cakes and breads. Marvin was called the Edison of manufacturing for his innovations in the bakery business—by 1888 the largest in the United States—and the centerpiece to the organization of the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco). Marvin was also a member of the elite South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club of Johnstown Flood fame.

A Nabisco silo in Toledo, Ohio

Packaging breakthrough

After the consolidation, the president of National Biscuit Company—Adolphus Green of American Biscuit and Manufacturing Company—asked Frank Peters to create a package to distribute fresher products. This paved its way for In-Er Seal package, whose logo is a prototype for the "Nabisco Thing". The In-Er Seal package is a system of inter-folded wax paper and cardboard to "seal in the freshness" of the product. At the beginning of his presidency, Green decided the National Biscuit Company, often shortened to NBC, needed a new idea that grabbed the public’s attention. He got it when his employees created a new cracker that was flakier and lighter than any of their competitors' versions.

The UNEEDA biscuit looked promising, but Green had to make sure it got to customers fresh and tasty, so it was the first to use the In-Er Seal package in 1898. Until then, crackers were sold unbranded and packed loosely in barrels. Mothers would give their sons a paper bag and ask them to run down to the store and get the bag filled with crackers. National Biscuit Company used this as part of Uneeda Biscuit advertising symbol, which depicts a boy carrying a pack of Uneeda Biscuit in the rain. In 2009 (after over 110 years), Nabisco discontinued the Uneeda biscuit out of concern that the product was not as profitable as others.

20th century

Early 20th century Uneeda Biscuit Ghost sign, Dubuque, Iowa.

The first use of "Nabisco" was in a cracker brand first produced by National Biscuit Company in 1901.[citation needed] The firm later introduced—either through development or acquisition— Fig Newtons, Nabisco Wafers (early 1900s, later sold in one form as Biscos, a sugar wafer originally containing a variety of flavored fillings), Anola Wafers (early 1900s, later discontinued; a chocolate wafer with chocolate filling), Barnum's Animal Crackers (1902), Lorna Doones (1912; shortbread), Oreos (1912),[4] and Famous Chocolate Wafers (1924; a thin wafer without filling).

In 1924, the National Biscuit Company introduced a snack in a five-cent sealed packet called the Peanut Sandwich Packet. They soon added a second, the Sorbetto Sandwich Packet. These allowed salesmen to sell to soda fountains, road stands, milk bars, lunch rooms and news stands. Sales increased, and in 1928 the company adopted and started to use the name NAB, which immediately won the approval of the public. The term Nabs today is used to generically mean any type of snack crackers, most commonly in the southern United States.

During WWII, the company manufactured K-Rations for US troops. The first use of the red triangular logo was in 1952. The name of the company was not changed to Nabisco until 1971; prior to that year, the company was often referred to as N.B.C. (unrelated to the broadcasting company).



N.B.C. acquired the Shredded Wheat Company (maker of Triscuits and Shredded Wheat cereal) and Christie, Brown & Company of Toronto in 1928, but all of the Nabisco products in Canada still use the name Christie. N.B.C. acquired F.H. Bennett Company (maker of Milk-Bone dog biscuits) in 1931. When Kraft bought Nabisco, it included Christie.

In 1981, Nabisco merged with Standard Brands, maker of Planters Nuts, Baby Ruth and Butterfinger candy bars, Royal gelatin, Fleischmann's and Blue Bonnet margarines, and many more. The company was then renamed Nabisco Brands, Inc. At that time, it also acquired the Life Savers brand from the E.R. Squibb Company.

R.J. Reynolds merger

In 1985, Nabisco was bought by R.J. Reynolds, forming RJR Nabisco. After three years of mixed results, the company became one of the hotspots in the '80s leveraged buyout mania. The company was in auction with two bidders: F. Ross Johnson, the company's president and CEO, and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, a private equity partnership.

The company eventually was sold to KKR in what was then the biggest leveraged buyout in history, described in the book Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, and a subsequent film.

Subsequent divestitures

In 1988, RJR sold its Chun King division, and also Del Monte Corporation's fresh produce division, which later became Fresh Del Monte Produce. In 1989, RJR sold the North and South American Del Monte processed food operations.

In 1990, RJR sold the Curtiss Candy division, which owned the Baby Ruth and Butterfinger brands, to Nestle. RJR also sold LU, Belin and other European biscuit brands to Groupe Danone, only reunited in 2007 after Nabisco's present parent, Kraft Foods, bought Danone's biscuit operations for EUR 5.3 billion.

In 1994, RJR sold its breakfast cereal business (primarily the Shredded Wheat franchise) to Kraft Foods and the international licenses to General Mills, which later on became a part of the Cereal Partners Worldwide joint venture with Nestle. In 1994 also RJR acquired KNOX Gelatin. The Shredded Wheat franchise would subsequently be integrated into the Post Foods portfolio, with Post continuing to sell the product today.

In 1995, RJR sold Ortega Mexican-style foods, and acquired Kraft Foods' tablespreads operations, which includes Parkay, Touch of Butter and Chiffon brands.

In 1997, RJR sold Egg Beaters egg substitutes, and Parkay, Touch of Butter, Chiffon, Fleischmann's, Move Over Butter and Blue Bonnet tablespreads to ConAgra, its College Inn broth business to Del Monte Foods and also its Venezuelan Del Monte operations.

In 2000 Philip Morris Companies (now called the Altria Group) acquired Nabisco; that acquisition was approved by the Federal Trade Commission subject to the divestiture of products in five areas: three Jell-O and Royal brands types of products (dry-mix gelatin dessert, dry-mix pudding, no-bake desserts), intense mints (such as Altoids), and baking powder. Kraft Foods, at the time also a subsidiary of Altria Group, eventually merged with Nabisco; in 2007, Kraft Foods was spun off from Altria Group, taking its Nabisco subsidiary with it. The Royal brands were eventually sold to Jel Sert.

Nestle is licensed to make some of the ice cream and popsicle variants of Oreo, Chips Ahoy! and Kool-Aid in Canada.

In January 2008, Cream of Wheat was sold to B&G Foods.

Legal battles

In 1997, the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus[5] became concerned with an ad campaign for Planters Deluxe Mixed Nuts. The initial commercial featured a man and monkey deserted on an island. They discover a crate of Planters peanuts and rejoice in the peanuts' positive health facts.

Nabisco made a detailed statement describing how their peanuts were healthier than most other snack products, going as far as comparing the nutritional facts of Planters peanuts to those of potato chips, Cheddar cheese chips, and popcorn. Technically, the commercials complied with United States Food and Drug Administration regulations, and they were allowed to continue. However, as requested by the NAD, Nabisco agreed to make fat content disclosure more conspicuous in future commercials.[6]

The company's A1 Steak Sauce was the subject of a legal battle against a venue called Arnie's Deli in 1991. The delicatessen was selling and using a homemade sauce called "A2 Sauce." The verdict favored Nabisco.

NASCAR sponsorship

From 2002–2005, Nabisco and Kraft jointly sponsored both Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and Roush Racing. Earnhardt Jr. won four races in a row at Daytona International Speedway with Nabisco sponsorship. Kraft and Nabisco sponsored a part-time Sprint Cup effort in car #81 driven by Jason Keller and John Andretti and fielded by Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Nabisco also sponsored Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the 2010 Subway Jalapeño 250 at Daytona International Speedway in July, 2010 with their Oreo/Ritz brand's and Tony Stewart with the Ritz brand in the 2010 DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway in 2010.


  1. ^ City of Chicago
  2. ^ Nabisco Australia. "How did OREO start?" [1]
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Laurie, Maxine N.; and Mappen, Marc; Encyclopedia of New Jersey: Rutgers University Press; 2004/2005. P. 555.
  5. ^ National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus
  6. ^ [2]

External links

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