TRADE: Butcher's Luck

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One day three years ago in Pomona, Calif., a Czecho-Slovak butcher named William Dubil lugged a bottom round of beef from his refrigerator, found that someone had stored it too near the freezing coils. It was granite-hard. Sure that the piece was spoiled, would blacken as it thawed, rueful Dubil put it on a slicing machine, turned out a stack of paper-thin slices. He put them in the display refrigerator just to see what would happen.

What happened started a new business. To Butcher Dubil's surprise the slices did not blacken, but again became a toothsome red. Customers bought them and to his amazement they came back next day for more. William Dubil hard-froze more meat, thawed his thin slices gradually in the display case, but still wondered why they were so tender.

Finally he figured out that thin slicing had severed the fibers of the meat as effectively as if they had been ground into "hamburger" and the "tempering" (slow thawing) helped. Also he found that when piled one on another the slices stuck together, made thicker steaks that could be cut with a fork. Canny Butcher Dubil took out a patent on his process.

His friend, keen-eyed William Thomas Carpenter, who ran a real-estate agency across the street from Dubil's butcher shop, joined the venture and they found a ready market for their laminated steaks in other shops. Bill Carpenter named them "Chip Steaks," set out to sell them in a big way. Presently William Dubil sold his patents to Carpenter for 25% of the Chip Steak royalties.

Carpenter organized the National Chip Steak Co., set out with a trailer and a steak-making outfit to demonstrate and sell. Last week he reached Chicago having licensed the process en route to Western and Midwestern manufacturers (the largest at a $10,000 fee). In addition to license fees, National Chip Steak Co. collects ⅛¢ per steak royalty. Present output of "Chip Steaks" is at the rate of 30,000,000 a year, monthly royalties about $2,500. By the end of 1939 Carpenter expects to see royalties of $5,000 a month. Chip Steak Corp. of Illinois which began doing business two months ago in Chicago, reported to Salesman Carpenter that its output the second month was 66% above the first.

For production in quantity, National Chip Steak Co. has improved on Butcher Dubil's original process. "Chips" are made from rounds and loins, which are first cleared by butchers of bones, sinews and fat, then packed into loaves in metal containers which are quick-frozen, at 15° below zero. After 24 hours of sub-zero freezing they are tempered at 30°, then thin-sliced and packed into six-layer steaks (a super-steak can be made by stacking two such steaks) and sold in two sizes, six-inch ovals for household use, four-and-a-half-inch ovals for restaurants. Housewives can buy them for 10¢ to 12¢ each, restaurants sell the small sizes in 15¢ sandwiches.