Before it became synonymous with Lean Cuisine and French-bread pizza, Stouffer’s began as an Ohio-based restaurant chain with a location at 100 Old York Road in Jenkintown.
Stouffer’s Jenkintown opened around 1960, though the company’s first restaurant was called the Stouffer Lunch in 1924.
The family-run company began as the Stouffer’s Cottage Creamery Company of Medina, Ohio in 1898. Stouffer introduced frozen foods in the 1950s and calorie-controlled products in the 1980s, including frozen entrees, side dishes, the Lean Cuisine line, and popular French bread pizzas.
In 1967, the Stouffer Corporation was purchased by Litton Industries, which had a large share of the microwave oven market. In 1973, Litton sold Stouffer to Nestlé. The Stouffer Corporation celebrated its 50th anniversary on May 24, 1974.
By the 1990s, frozen entrees began to lose appeal among American families and Stouffer’s sales dipped.
In 1991, the Federal Trade Commission issued a complaint that Stouffer Foods had misrepresented sodium content in their Lean Cuisine entrees by stating that they were low in sodium. Stouffer’s argued that the campaign had focused on good taste and controlled sodium, fat, and calories. They also argued that the sodium claim was relative, reflecting a lower amount of sodium, not necessarily that the entrees were low sodium. However, the Administrative Law Judge ruled in favor of the Federal Trade Commission.
Today the Stouffer Corporation is still the United States’ leading manufacturer and marketer of more than 150 varieties of frozen prepared foods.
From the June 1959 issue of Chain Store Age, page E46:
Stouffer to open fourth restaurant
The first phase of a nearly $3-million expansion program of the Stouffer Corp. was recently completed with the opening of its fourth restaurant in Philadelphia. The two-level unit has 625 seats with an area of 26,000 square feet.
The lower level of the restaurant is built out from beneath a plaza walk and faces on a garden court section of the concourse.
The second step of the program is scheduled for completion this month with the opening of a $1.5 million dollar unit in Jenkintown, Pa.
Vernon Stouffer, president of the chain, noted that the two new restaurants would bring the total in the Philadelphia area to five, more than in any other city in which the chain operates.
“The management food service and frozen food service divisions of the chain are also due for expansion,” Mr. Stouffer added.
Pictured below is the Abington Room with Stouffer’s, which was used for business meetings, functions, and private parties.
The photo below, which advertises the 1969 moon landing as well as all of the Stouffer’s locations at the time, includes the Jenkintown franchise under its “Pennsylvania” listings.
100 Old York Road is still an apartment complex today.
For more on Stouffer’s history, you can click here.
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