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Just like Mother
 used to make
Junket History
 
The story of the Junket brand begins in Denmark in 1874, when Christian Hansen founded Hansen's Laboratorium in Denmark to make rennet extract for the cheese making industry.
 
Christian HansenChristian D. A. Hansen, a young chemist, sits in an office in Copenhagen some day in the early 1870s waiting to see a proprietor, a merchant of his acquaintance, to consult him in regard to his future.  He had served for years as an apprentice in drug stores, had graduated with honours, had won the gold medal of the University of Copenhagen for an essay on crystalology.  He was acting as instructor of students of pharmacy and assistant at the Polytechnical College to the eminent Professor in Chemistry, Julius Thomsen.  He had been editor of the Danish Pharmaceutical Journal, had obtained authority to lecture at the University and was already well known as a bright and distinguished scientist.  Yet, the conditions prevailing his future were not promising.  The usual path open to his class was to obtain a government license to open a drugstore of his own some ten or twenty years hence, did not look tempting to the ambitious young man.  To be sure, the few authorized prescription apothecary shops in the country were quite remunerative, but it was almost hopeless for a poor young man to think of ever acquiring sufficient capital to purchase one of those privileged stores.  There was some talk of the establishment of a Pharmaceutical College, separate from the University and the Polytechnical Institute where heretofore the druggists had acquired their education, but the prospect of a professorship at such an institution which might not materialize for years was too remote. 
 
Chr. Hansen
While waiting for an interview with the merchant, he heard an order mentioned which came in from the country calling for a dozen of rennets.  "What is that," he asked.  "Oh," was the reply, "rennets are calves' stomachs prepared for cheese making, the farmers soak them in whey and add the liquid to the milk to curdle it."  Why couldn't a commercial extract be made in the laboratory, our young chemist thought, and be put on the market?  After obtaining some more information as to the quantity used, etc., he bid his friend goodbye, forgetting the question as to his own future.  During the next few months he investigated the matter in the diaries where cheese was made, and worked in the laboratory until he had perfected an extract of high keeping quality, uniform strength and free from the contaminating impurities characteristic of the - often foul - liquid of uncertain coagulating power produced by soaking the stomachs in whey in the dairy.  With samples of his new preparation young Hansen again called on the merchant who entered into the proposition with enthusiasm and offered him the cellar under his office for a factory.  This was the beginning of "Chr. Hansen's Laboratory."
 
Whether the story is true or not, it is characteristic of the man.  It was, however, not by an accident that commercial Rennet Extract was invented, but due to the unusual foresight and clever grasp of the situation, of an eminent student with a clear head and practical sense for possibilities presented.  And it was not until many difficulties had been overcome by undaunted energy and persistency that success was obtained. 
 
It did not take long before Chr. Hansen's Danish Rennet Extract was introduced in every cheese making country in the world.  The authorities who at theat time were beginning to place the dairy industry on a scientific basis hailed this preparation as a great boom to the industry in that it made the process rational instead of haphazard according to the old rule of thumb and contributed so much to the production of a uniform high quality of cheese.  Soon rennet preparations in the form of powder and tablets, as well as butter and cheese colors were added to the products of the Laboratory and, about 1893, when Professor Storch discovered the flavour producing lactic acid bacilli active in ripening cream in buttermaking, the "Lactic Ferment" was also placed on the market, which is now so largely used everywhere not only in butter and cheese making but also in scientific preparation of sour milk or "buttermilk" to be taken as a beverage. 
 
 
Christian D.A. HansenIn 1878 Mr. Hansen opened a branch in the United States where cheese making had grown to such proportions as to make it one of the best markets of the world.  In 1890 Hansen Laboratories purchased for $1,100.00 the 1-1/2 acre island then called "Lock Island."  Construction was slow and while it was in progress the only access to the island was by a suspension foot bridge and a crude wooden wagon bridge.  It was not until 1892 that the town of Little Falls, NY provided an old iron railroad bridge obtained from the Delaware & Hudson Railroad Co.  When it arrived in Little Falls it was found to be a foot short of specifications and the abutments had to be rebuilt to accomodate.  The building was finished and in operation by September 1891.  Herkimer County, NY was chosen as the headquarters since that was the center of the US cheese industry at that time.  Today the building sits on what is known as Hansen Island.  Later on, factories were opened up in Reading England, Toronto, Canada, and depots established in Paris and Budapest. 
 
This headquarters was useful as he imported vats and farming machinery from the United States.  He tried the first millking machine ever used in Denmark, the B-L-K which was presented to him by the manufacturers, Messrs. D.H. Burrell & Co. of Little Falls, N.Y. 
 
At first, they imported rennet from Denmark, but in 1891 a factory was constructed in Little Falls, New York where Junket is still produced today - more than a century later. The "Junket" brand was first introduced in 1886 and Rennet tablets were the first product to be sold under the Junket brand name.  Junket actually means "milk with rennet" and thus is the inspiration for the brand name. The tablets were designed for household use for making cheese and other dairy products. 

In 1911, Chris Hansen began marketing a powder under the brand name "Nesnah" ­ Hansen spelled backwards. It was sweetened and flavored for making custards and drinks and not much different from today's Junket Rennet Custard. In 1915, the brand name of this product was changed to Junket.

After WWI new products were added to the range.  In 1934, Junket Freezing mix (for making ice cream) was introduced.  This later became known as Junket Ice Cream Mix and filled the need for ice cream that could be made quickly and easily at home.  In 1938, Junket "Quick Fudge and Frosting Mix" was launched. It was later renamed "Minute Fudge" and today is known as Hansen Island Fudge.  In 1939, the Junket Danish Dessert line was introduced. This product was based on the famous Scandanavian Rodgrod or "Red Pudding".  In 1948, Sherbert mix was introduced as a companion to Ice Cream mix. It was successful for some time, but is no longer produced and marketed.

Junket products were introduced into Canada beginning in 1917 and were produced in Toronto.

In 1958, Salada-Shirrif Horsey acquired the Junket brand from Chs. Hansen Laboratories along with the factory in Little Falls, New York.  Salada-Shirrif Horsey had been created only a year earlier in 1957 by the merger of the Salada Tea Company and Shirrif Horsey.  Shirriff was a Canadian company that had pioneered flavoring essences called "buds" which were used for flavoring dessert products, jelly powders, jellies, and puddings.  In 1962, the company name was changed to Salada Foods, Inc., and was later acquired by cereal maker Kellog in 1969.  Under Kellogg, Salada tea packing operations were merged with Junket in Little Falls in 1973.

 

 



Today, Junket mixes and Salada teas are still produced in Little Falls, New York on Hansen Island in the middle of the Mohawk River. Since 1988, Junket and Salada brands have been part of Redco Foods, Inc. You can find Little Falls just off the New York State thruway twenty minutes east of Utica, New York.

 

 

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