Muffins, brownies, and buttermilk pancakes are just a few of the Jiffy Mix brand foods that make their way into thousands of kitchens every day. It is a success story that began because one widowed father could not make good biscuits.
One day in 1930, Horace and Dudley Holmes brought home two friends for lunch. Their mother, Mabel White Holmes, was shocked by the biscuits the boys had in their sack lunches. The boys’ father had made the biscuits, which looked more like hockey pucks.
Mabel remembered the boys’ stale biscuits when she and her husband were planning the future of the Chelsea Milling Company (CMC), the family’s flourmill in Chelsea, Michigan. CMC enjoyed a reputation for quality flour milling, but Mabel wanted to expand. She considered printing recipes on the company’s bags of flour. She took the idea a step further, deciding to sell ready-made baking packages with everything in them but the liquid. “She wanted to save homemakers time in the kitchen and made a mix even a man could prepare,” recalls her grandson Howdy Holmes.
After remembering her family’s cook who used to make biscuits for Mabel’s father “in a jiffy,” she found a name for her new company. In 1930, Jiffy Mix hit store shelves. The blue-and-white, ready-made packages quickly became popular.
Despite competing against larger companies, CMC produces nineteen different Jiffy mixes. Its manufacturing operation (nicknamed Jiffyville) is a landmark in downtown Chelsea. CMC spends no money on advertising or marketing. Instead, it depends on people telling each other about the products. Today, the company produces 1.6 million boxes daily, especially corn muffin mix, which is the company’s bestseller.
Chelsea Milling Company (Jiffy Mix) web siteFor more great stories on Michigan’s past, look to Michigan History magazine. For more information or a free trial issue, call (800) 366-3703 or visit http://www.michiganhistorymagazine.com/.