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James L. Kraft

AKA James Lewis Kraft

Born: 11-Dec-1874
Birthplace: Stevensville, Ontario, Canada
Died: Feb-1953
Location of death: Chicago, IL
Cause of death: Complications of Surgery
Remains: Buried, Memorial Park Cemetery, Skokie, IL

Gender: Male
Religion: See Note [1]
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Inventor of processed cheese

James Kraft, son of a Canadian farmer, started a cheese delivery service in 1903. Driving a horse named Paddy, he supplied Chicago area grocers with cheese he purchased at wholesale, delivering the cheese early in the morning, before it could melt or spoil -- a key advantage in a time before refrigeration was common. Many stores refused to even carry cheese in the summer months, because it would rot before it was sold. As the business grew, Kraft acquired his its own dairy facilities, and addressed the spoilage problem by shredding Cheddar cheese, then heating it enough to kill its inherent mold and bacteria, stopping the cheese aging process.

His patented, pasteurized cheese had a much longer shelf life than ordinary cheese, though connoisseurs complained that Kraft had literally "killed the cheese", and makers of what is now called "natural cheese" -- unpasteurized -- demanded that Kraft be forced to sell its product as "embalmed cheese". Instead, federal regulations eventually required Kraft and other makers of altered cheese products to market such foodstuffs as "processed cheese". While James Kraft controlled the company, Kraft introduced Velveeta in 1928, Miracle Whip in 1933, macaroni and cheese in 1937, Parkay margarine in 1940, sliced processed cheese in 1950, and Cheez Whiz in 1952. "After we are gone", he wrote in a company newsletter, "there will be Kraft salesmen trekking the veldt of Africa, braving the snows of Siberia and battling the superstitions of Mongolia -- all earnestly striving to increase sales, which by that time will be far in excess of a hundred million".


[1] Raised Mennonite, later joined the Baptist Church.

Father: George Kraft (farmer, b. George Krafft 1842, d. 1914)
Mother: Minerva Alice Tripp Kraft (b. 1848, d. 1933)
Brother: William Kraft (b. 24-Mar-1872)
Sister: Sarah Ann Kraft (b. 5-Aug-1876)
Brother: George Franklin Kraft (b. 5-Aug-1878)
Brother: Charles Herbert Kraft (Kraft executive, b. 17-Oct-1880)
Brother: Robert Harvey Kraft (b. 11-Oct-1882)
Sister: Ivy May Kraft (b. 30-Oct-1884)
Brother: Frederick Kraft (Kraft executive, twin b. 1-Feb-1887)
Sister: Florence Kraft (twin b. 1-Feb-1887)
Brother: Norman Kraft (Kraft executive, b. 31-Dec-1889)
Brother: John Henry Kraft (Kraft executive, b. 6-Jun-1891)
Wife: Pauline Kraft
Daughter: Edith Kraft

    Kraft Foods Founder & President (1909-53)
    Naturalized US Citizen
    Canadian Ancestry


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