Whenever merchandise manager Kate Fox welcomes tour bus groups to the J.M. Smucker Co. store and café, she asks visitors to guess Smucker’s first product. “Everyone always answers, ‘strawberry preserves,’” says Fox, “but the company actually started with apple butter.”
Located near U.S. 30, the store sits along a rural road in Wayne County just minutes away from the J.M. Smucker Company’s headquarters in Orrville. The town’s population is less than 10,000, yet it’s home to a Fortune 500 corporation with some 7,000 employees who work in offices and manufacturing facilities spread from Quebec to California. Why Orrville? In 1897, local farmer Jerome Monroe Smucker opened a cider mill there and began making apple butter from concentrated cider.