At ‘This Place in History’, we’re at the Maltex Building on Pine Street in Burlington with Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins.
‘People of a certain generation love Maltex. Maltex is a cereal. It was made right here in Burlington in this building. But we need to go way back to the 1890s. You’ve probably heard of Kellogg and you’ve probably heard of Post. Those are people and they created this whole health craze around eating cereals. Corn Flakes is one of those things,” began Perkins.
“They also had this great idea that if you malt barley and you mixed that malted barley with wheat, it would be really healthy. So in New York, there was this malted cereal company. I would say it was like Cream of Wheat with malted barley added to it.”
“A guy named William Van Patten bought the company and the idea of making a malted breakfast cereal and he built the building right behind us here in Burlington in 1900. Soon enough, they needed to come up with a better name for this so they called their malted cereal Maltex,” explained Perkins.
“It was here for a long time. The Van Patten family had some tragedy. He had one son Charles who was supposed to inherit the company and ended up committing suicide right here in this building. The estate was sold off to the Shepardson’s company, but they kept manufacturing right here.”
“One of the cool things about this company is that very early on they had very progressive ideas about employment. So they did such things as allowing paid leave. And they provided hot lunch for all of their employees right here in that building. This was unheard of in this time, 1910s and 1920s.”
“You can still buy Maltex. I haven’t found it locally, but certainly online. What you can find locally is Maypo. A food scientist came to this company in 1950 and he created a way of adding maple flavoring to a dry cereal or a cereal that was shipped dry and you then cooked.”
“They called it Maypo and it was a whole line of cereals. There were 11 different varieties of Maypo. It had a great advertising campaign. A former Disney animator created this little character here and he would yell on tv, ‘I want my Maypo’. And so you had this whole generation of kids growing up with this tagline of ‘I want my Maypo’,” said Perkins.
“It’s not still here and it’s a sad story, typical of what happened to a lot of industrial companies in Vermont in the 1960s. The company went through a series of owners. Standard Milling, which was a really large wheat and flour company bought it. And in 1969, the vice president for Standard Milling came up, it was 9 o’clock on a morning in May and he said, ‘you’re done’, closed the factory and walked out. None of the employees knew it was closing. They were all just instantaneously out of a job,” lamented Perkins.
“They moved to manufacturing to Pennsylvania, where they had a larger plant. Interestingly enough, it’s still made in that same plant in Pennsylvania. It’s managed by the Homestat Farm Corporation. But it all started right here on Pine Street in Burlington and that’s why it’s called the Maltex Building,” concluded Perkins.
At ‘This Place in History’!
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