Nearly 75% of U. S. oranges, though ripe, edible and juicy, are partially or completely green in color, would sell at a disadvantage against no better but more appealing fruit. When these oranges have received the Color Process (dipping in a solution of food-color) they emerge as yellow as ever an orange grew. Color Process machinery is one of the many leased specialties of Food Machinery Corp., world's largest maker of mechanical aids to food growing, handling, packing and canning.
Food Machinery started humbly in 1884 when Maine-born Californian John Bean invented the first hand spray pump, designed to battle the San Jose scale.* Spray pumps grew bigger, with higher pressures, became power driven, resulted in the manufacture of turbine pumps used in irrigating farms. Now turbine pumps are used in mines and tunnels.
Spray pumps also developed into pumps for washing food. From food-washers came automobile washers, and from automobile washers a line of motorcar equipment including brake-testers and wheel-aligners. Thus many a Food Machinery product sprang from the spray pump, which Food Machinery still sells.
As Food Machinery Corp. grew (the present name dates only from 1929) many another company, many another food machine was added to it. From a peach machine which could "cook" 30 cans a minute in 1912, Food Machinery has perfected a machine which cooks 300 cans a minute today. Another important machine is the Pacific Peach Pitter, which halves and pits peaches in one operation.†
It used to take two or three years to train a hand worker on his job; anyone can run the Pitter with two or three hours training. About 60% of the 1935 peach pack (10,000,000 cases) was halved and pitted on this machine. A third machine automatically stems, cores, peels and halves pears. It operates from ten to twelve times as fast as the hand worker. Though introduced only in the 1934 season, the Pear Machine this year handled more than one third of western canned pears. (Total pack: 4,500,000 cases.)
Big producer as well as seller of evaporated milk is Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., and the A. & P. is a big customer for Food Machinery's equipment for sterilizing canned milk. In this process, cans are heated, sterilized, cooled, labeled and cased in 47 minutes. Though Food Machinery's method has been used only since 1924, it accounted for more than half the 1935 evaporated milk output (2,000,000,000 cans plus).
Besides its California centres (San Jose, Fresno, Los Angeles, Riverside), Food Machinery has plants at Portland, Ore. (apples, pears, tomatoes), Dunedin, Fla. (oranges, grapefruit), Massillon, Ohio (pumps), Lansing, Mich, (sprayers, motor products) and Hoopeston, Ill. (corn-canning). At Hoopeston was developed a can-filling machine, designed for corn, but also used by oil companies in their development of the market for canned motor oil.