The development of the California raisin and dried fruit industry followed the gold miners of 1849 as agriculture became the second gold rush in California. Nearly 2,000 years earlier, Egyptians wrote of the enjoyment of raisins. The Bible (I Samuel), too, makes note of raisins as a food.
Once raisins were established as a marketable crop which grew and dried well under the California sun, raisin grape acreage expanded rapidly in the late 1800’s. The earliest efforts to form a successful cooperative business to be owned by raisin growers started in 1898. But visions surpassed reality until 1912 when the entire community supported the establishment of the California Associated Raisin Company. In 1915, the brand name SUN-MAID was launched, and within a year, executives of the company discovered a local girl, Lorraine Collett Petersen whose smiling face, red sunbonnet, and tray of fresh grapes would become synonymous with the sun-dried goodness of California raisins.
By 1918, facilities had become inadequate for the rapidly growing enterprise. The company opened a new sun-lit facility near downtown Fresno, which was recognized at the time as the “finest factory building west of Detroit.”
In 1964, further modernization of processes and growth of the cooperative lead to the construction of, and move to, a new facility in neighboring Kingsburg. This new location was voted one of America’s top new plants by FACTORY MAGAZINE that year.
Since its establishment in 1912 to the 21st century, Sun-Maid has represented quality, a willingness to change with technology, and a focus on the customer.
The following timeline starts with today and progresses backwards in time.