Orange Meat: The First American Cereal Warrior comes to Kingston

Michael Peters Orange Meat

As spring of 1902 turned to summer, more information about the Frontenac Cereal Company's plans began to be revealed. They had the ambition to enter the prepared food manufacturing business, but this was no simple task.

As we discussed in the last post, this was a very new product, the whole industry was only a few years old. This was cutting-edge technology, requiring specialized equipment and machinery. In 1902, the number of people with the expertise to design, build and operate a functioning cereal factory was a short list indeed. It was inevitable that help would be recruited from outside of Kingston.

Daily British Whig - July 14, 1902

Newspapers began to report on the formation of the Cereal Company again in mid-July, coinciding with a July 12 meeting in Kingston to formalize the new corporation.

In addition to the names we have already discussed, the July reports add another: "Mr. H.E. Pyror, Chicago". The Toronto Globe describes him as a "skilled manufacturer of cereal foodstuffs." In Kingston, the Whig reported that offered "long and varied experience in the manufacture of cereal foods."

The Whig reports his arrival in town on July 18, 1902 - just a week following the incorporation meeting. 

Earlier in 1902, the "Canadian Grocer" trade magazine reported that he was visiting Toronto as a representative of the Great Western Cereal Company of Chicago, which seems to confirm part of the story. They were well known for "Mother's Oats" cereal.

It is difficult to verify whether Mr. Pryor himself was a "skilled manufacturer".
Most signs seem to suggest that his expertise was more likely sales and distribution. While working for Frontenac, he seems to have operated out of a Toronto office at 43 Scott Street, in addition to Kingston where the manufacturing was taking place. He is also separately listed at that address as the manager of International Brokerage Company (General Agents, Cereals and Breakfast Foods). A 1903 report in the Canadian Grocer describes him as the "manager of the selling department" for Frontenac.

Mother's Oats

But he was an American "cereal man" with business connections to Canada already, which may be how he was identified and approached by Frontenac initially. His connections to the cereal industry were likely instrumental in identifying and recruiting the other American expertise that would be necessary.

The July 14 Whig article also specifically references, twice, plans for the attractive product packaging. That this coincides with the introduction of Mr. Pryor leads me to speculate that he may have been the creative force behind the "Orange Meat" brand, packaging, and initial advertising campaign. It is hard to know for sure.

Despite maintaining a Toronto office, he had a presence in Kingston. The Whig reported his comings and goings, and his attendance at various social events with his wife. The 1903 Kingston City Directory provides a home on Brock Street and describes him as "FRONTENAC CEREAL CO, Limited, H E Pryor Manager, Cereal Manufacturers, foot of Gore St".

When Mr. Pryor and his wife leave town in 1905, the Whig offers kind words - which is notable since the Cereal Company (in its original form, at least) was in the midst of collapse.

Daily British Whig - Sept. 28 1905

Which is jumping ahead in the story considerably, but worth noting since we are about to meet two other Americans who played a key role in the Orange Meat story, contributing their technical expertise - and no small amount of colorful background and scandal.

Spoiler alert, neither gentleman seem to have received many kind words when they left town.

Stay tuned for more!

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