Rushville Republican

Features

November 8, 2008

“Jewel Tea Man" was a welcome site in neighborhood

It was a simple idea, so simple that he couldn't believe that no one had thought of it before. Frank Vernon Skiff, Chicago resident and employee of the India Tea Company, was discouraged by the conditions under which coffee was sold by the local emporiums. In many cases the beans sat in a warehouse for weeks, even months, before they were dispersed to the local grocers. Wouldn't it be wonderful, he thought, if fresh coffee could be delivered to your door? Who could resist the aroma of fresh ground coffee beans, and if coffee, why not teas and spices? So in 1899, with a an idea, a horse and wagon, and $700 he set out to turn his ides into a reality.

Word traveled fast about the kind man with the gentle nature who would bring fresh roasted coffee right to your door. As Frank delivered his coffee, he listened to the needs of his clients who ask if he could possibly deliver other staple items to their homes. The customer list grew, as did the items Frank and his salesmen offered. His brother-in-law, Frank P. Ross, joined the company in 1901, and by 1916 they had taken the company national with 1,645 routes. By 1926, the company that started as a door to door coffee delivery service had expanded its merchandise to more than 50 products, including laundry and toiletry products. It was hard to find a neighborhood in America

where the "The Jewel Tea Man" wasn't a welcome site.

The key to the incredible success of Jewel Tea is found in its ability to understand the needs of their customers and fulfill them. One such need was met in 1926 when Mary Dunbar, of the Jewel Tea Homemaker's Institute, released a series of cookbooks featuring recipes using Jewel Tea products. The books were an instant hit. Many of the items from Jewel Tea, including the cookbooks, tea and spice canisters, and the more than 100 premiums that were offered through the years have become of interest to collectors. But the most enduring collectible to come from

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