By Jane Feehan
Visit janeshistorynook.blogspot.com for more South Florida history
Fort Lauderdale was a major vegetable shipping center during the early to mid 1900s, especially after the New River was connected to Lake Okeechobee via the North New River Canal in 1912. One of the most profitable crops in the area was tomatoes, and so it followed that the city also served as the site of a large ketchup factory.
Harbauer Company, a Toledo-based manufacturer of “high grade condiments,” leased the former Fort Lauderdale Lumber Company for four years commencing in 1918 to make ketchup. For months, locals in the young city (incorporated 1911) followed news of its setting up in Fort Lauderdale near the New River.
Forty rail cars of machinery rolled into Fort Lauderdale for the new factory. But additional machinery was needed before the red condiment could be produced. During the first year, Harbauer made tomato paste to send north to turn into the finished product. George B. Doust served as the plant’s local manager. He and other company executives eyed the 4,250 acres of tomatoes growing in fields south of Fort Lauderdale to beyond Hallandale for potential profits.
But Harbauer was not the only company to see green in those red Florida tomatoes. V. Taormina Co. of New Orleans set up a ketchup factory in a rented facility in Dania in 1918. Vincent Taormina and Joseph Uddo merged their New Orleans-based companies to form The Uddo and Taormina Corporation and created the Progresso label in 1927.
For another important South Florida crop, see:
Fort Lauderdale Sentinel, Mar. 8, 1917
Fort Lauderdale Sentinel, Nov. 30, 1917
Fort Lauderdale Sentinel, Jan. 30, 1918
Tags: Fort Lauderdale history, Dania history, catsup history, Florida tomatoes, ketchup history, film research, Florida film and TV researcher, Progresso brand history