February 7, 2007

Lance

And the man behind the brand is...
P.L. Lance

P.L. Lance always tried to look out for his customers while operating his food brokerage business in Charlotte, North Carolina. Although he dealt primarily in coffee from time to time Lance was asked to obtain peanuts for his customers.

On one such occasion he obtained an order for 500 pounds of peanuts only to have the customer turn down the order at time of delivery. Rather than back down on his bargain with the farmer from whom he obtained the peanuts he decided to roast the goobers in his own kitchen and sell them in small bags on downtown streets.

It was 1913 and, after much deliberation, Lance decided to roast peanuts, make peanut butter and deliver to Charlotte merchants to promote the use of this nourishing food. With $60 to start he installed a peanut roaster and peanut butter mill on the 2nd floor of a downtown building. He called his new venture the Lance Packing Company because the partners actually packed the peanut butter into containers.

The product line expanded in unconventional ways. It was Mrs. Lance who came up with the idea for the company's famous peanut butter cracker sandwich, believed to be the first such combination sandwich ever offered for sale. A soldier at nearby Camp Greene offered the Lances a recipe for peanut brittle and it became a big seller.

Lance products were offered by mail and soon Lance was the largest parcel post business in North Carolina. P.L. Lance died in an automobile accident in 1926 when the company was still mainly a candy manufacturer and peanut processor. The big shift in product line took place during World War II when Lance decided its sugar allotment would go further in crackers than candies. Production shifted to the 5¢ peanut butter sandwich, the staple of the Lance line today.

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