Fans today can enjoy a crisp Mt. Olive Pickle thanks to the forward-thinking business leaders of the North Carolina town of Mount Olive back in 1926.
That’s right: America’s favorite pickle company is 95 years old.
In the early 1920s, several large produce markets in town served a wide agricultural region. While cucumbers grew well in the area, there wasn’t much market for them.
Faced with bumper crops of cucumbers rotting in the fields, the group established a pickle company, reasoning that a new market for area farmers would benefit the local economy. They named the company for their hometown.
Organized on Jan. 2, 1926 and formally incorporated a few weeks later in February, Mt. Olive Pickle Company started with about $19,000 in capital and a 3,600 square foot building. By year’s end, 37 local men and women – among them merchants, physicians, prominent farmers, railroad men, and even one 23-year-old mechanic still living at home – had invested in the fledgling firm.
In the earliest days, employees used old coffee pots to pour sweet pickle brine into jars. At night after supper, the directors of the company, including the local bank president, would go down to the plant to glue on the jar labels. Less than 20 years later, in 1943, Mt. Olive implemented a profit sharing plan for employees, one of the first 200 companies in the country to do so. That plan is still in place today.
From those humble, yet visionary beginnings, the Mt. Olive Pickle Company grew to become makers of the best-selling brand of pickles, peppers and relishes in the U.S.
Today the company employs about 1,200 people who pack and sell over 230 million jars of product annually.
Mt. Olive continues the commitment to the idea that a strong company makes for a strong community, focusing on producing quality, innovative products and serving its customers well. In turn, 2020 was a record year for company giving: Mt. Olive provided over $1.1 million in financial support and products to non-profits.
“It’s amazing to think that the company was started by people who simply wanted to make their community better,” said Greg Smith, vice president of sales and marketing. “It’s even more amazing that we are still here and going strong 95 years later.”
Happy Birthday, Mt. Olive.