Well, here we go again. I suppose most of the readers of the Boiler Bulletin have, while shopping for groceries, bought Allen's Apple Juice. If you have never used any, you better start now. A glass of Allen's Apple Juice before breakfast really peps you up for the days work. Now why is it called Allen's. Why isn't it called George's or Sam's or Albert's or Mary's or Muriel's or Gladys' apple juice; why Allen's?
The name Aliens originated in the good old Quaker town of Norwich. The first pioneers migrated to the Norwich area about 1812. Many of them came from Dutchess County, New York. These pioneers planted quite extensive apply orchards in the area. In about 1880, a man by the name of Solomon Allen migrated to Norwich and he, along with a couple of other settlers built the first cider mill in the area. Sol Allen, as he was known by his friends, soon bought out his partners and enlarged the plant and it was known as 'The Allen Vinegar Works.'
There was a good market for Allen's vinegar in Canada and I am told that they also developed quite an export trade. Apparently there were among the pioneers, those who liked to drink something stronger than water, so the company began the manufacture of 'Apple Jack.' This was an alcoholic beverage, and this part of the plant was government bonded. The 'Apple Jack' division of the company was quite prosperous until prohibition time, and that finished the 'Apple Jack' business.
There are many weird and tall stories told how the natives would obtain cider from the plant, maybe from some of the employees, or they would steal it, to make their own 'hard cider.' This could be another story. Do you remember the song 'Down by the Vinegar Works?' I think this song originated in prohibition times.
In 1913 my father and mother moved on the farm where I now live. There was an old orchard there that was supposed to be 100 years old. I don't really think it is quite that old. I would say 60 or 75 years. There were some very large trees and high ones. My dad had a 32' ladder and it wouldn't reach the top of some of the trees. I guess the pruning methods used in the old days were different. In the early 20s, I had drawn many wagon loads of apples to Allen's Cider Mill. I remember one load that had 7,980 pounds of apples on and the weigh master said it was the largest load he had ever weighed, and he told me to tell my dad not to load the wagon so heavily again or I would have a bad breakdown.
In the early 30s I believe, the company developed a new process that enabled them to can sweet cider and this new product was given the name 'Allen's Apple Juice.' In 1937 or 1938 Canada Vinegars bought the Norwich plant and operated it for several years. For a good many years this Norwich plant was the largest one of its kind in Canada.
In 1960 Canada Vinegars built a new modern plant in the Toronto area. This location was more central than the Norwich plant. Gorman Wood Products bought the old plant in Norwich and they now have an extensive business there. They manufacture pallets, crates and bins.
So now, the next can of Allen's Apple Juice you get at the grocers, you will know why it is called 'Allen's.' Maybe there will even be just a wee drop of juice in that can from Orth's Orchard.