CARPINTERIA, CA., MARCH 8, 2018 - The first Whole Foods Market wouldn’t open in Austin, Texas, for another two years. The first Sprouts wouldn’t make its debut in Arizona for another 24 years. Vegetarians were relegated to the shadows in most supermarket settings, and for much of the population, the term Vegan sounded like something out of “Star Trek.”
The year was 1978 and the health food revolution was in its infancy. But a young man named Joel Dee with a vision of what the industry could one day become saw the future. And it was delicious.
As a young man, Joel worked alongside his two brothers and their father, Edward, in the family’s iconic New Jersey-based business, Smarties Candy Company. But, as fate would have it, Joel’s interests extended well beyond the confection industry.
“I was responsible for export sales at the candy company and found it difficult to maintain a healthy, satisfying diet while on-the-road,” Joel recalls today. “Health food stores sold wholesome foods that required a kitchen and a long cooking time, both in short supply to a `road warrior’ such as myself. Conventional supermarkets sold convenience foods that were laced with preservatives and artificial ingredients, which I was determined to avoid. To make things even tougher, I had recently become vegetarian, so my restaurant menu options were often limited to salad and potatoes... not exactly a balanced diet.”
Adds Joel, “I was a traveling salesman who needed portable, nourishing, easy to prepare vegetarian food without artificial ingredients, but I couldn’t find it anywhere in 1976 America. I wondered: Could I be the only person who wants this? I hadn’t planned to start a new business, but I felt somewhat obliged to. If I wouldn’t take on the job of creating wholesome, vegetarian convenience foods, it occurred to me that no one else would either.”
With that motivation in mind, Joel began a two year effort to develop Miso-Cup® instant soup mix and, with its launch in 1978, Edward & Sons Trading Company, Inc. was born.
A History of “Firsts”
As it turned out, introducing instant Miso-Cup soup would be only the first of numerous company innovations that would continue for the next forty years. In 1979, for example, Edward & Sons introduced Baked Brown Rice Snaps® whole grain, gluten free crackers, decades before American shoppers would demand gluten free groceries on a massive scale. Numerous “first-to-market” vegan organic products followed, including canned coconut milk, hearts of palm, pineapple chunks and mandarin oranges, Worcestershire sauce, croutons, panko, ice cream cones and many more.
According to Joel, “We tend to do`firsts’ because that’s what we’re passionate about. We are driven to provide new options to our health-aware consumers, while creating markets for our ethical organic farmers and packers around the globe. We’re proud of our activities that protect native forests and support conversion from conventional to organic farming, which nourishes the environment while enhancing the well-being of everyone along the supply chain from farm to table”
Indeed, Joel and his team have successfully developed so many different products over these past 40 years that they’ve chosen to create subsidiary brands to market and distinguish them all, including the flagship Edward & Sons® brand as well as Native Forest®, Let’s Do Organic®, Let’s Do Gluten-Free®, More Than Fair®, Nature Factor®, Road’s End Organics®, Premier Japan® and The Wizard's®.
Regardless of the brand name on the package, however, all products under the Edward & Sons umbrella are defined by the company’s longstanding commitment to excellent vegetarian food and to its enduring motto: Convenience Without Compromise.®
As Joel sums up, “We remain a vegetarian company that’s mission-driven to offer consumers delicious and nourishing convenience foods free of artificial ingredients. That’s how we’ve run the business for the past 40 years and it’s how I envision Edward & Sons to be run for the next 40 years - and beyond.”