Because You Asked . . . .    

Aroma of Fresh Brewed Coffee from Sunbury's South Columbus Street

Creamery to Baby Food to Coffee

John Wildi Evaporated Milk Company (formerly Sunbury Co-Operative Creamery) was sold in 1919 to Nestle Alimentania, S. A.  Butter, cheese and evaporated milk were still the primary products.  

In 1865 in Vevey, Switzerland, Henri Nestle, a merchant with a homemade laboratory, had been working on a baby food product when an infant in the town was born with no tolerance to breast milk or existing milk products. It was decided to give Henri's invention a try because the boy would surely die otherwise. The baby not only survived, he appeared to be very normal in every way. Word of such a miracle spread rapidly. In 1868 the medical profession had approved the baby food product and production began in Switzerland. Thus started the world wide company which came to Sunbury.

In 1924, Nestles brought Ernest Fivaz and his family, of Vevey, Switzerland,  to Sunbury from Fulton, N. Y. to supervise the making of baby formula.  He carried the top secret formula in his head.  The Fivaz family soon put down roots in Sunbury.  Mr. Fivaz was honored for 40 years of service to Nestle in 1940  Annette Roberts is the last of the seven Fivaz children living in Sunbury.

In a small corner of the baby food manufacturing plant, a handful began to turn out an  instant coffee called Nescafe.    Although much of the research happened elsewhere, in 1939, before convenience foods were popular, Sunbury produced 350 pounds of instant coffee an hour.  In 1943 they received the Army-Navy E Award for high achievement in producing Nescafe for every serviceman's ration pack. The pleasant aroma of brewed coffee covered the area and resulted in more than one person stopping in the town to inquire about its source.  The cup on top of the plant with the steam coming up from behind it became a Sunbury trademark.  On the negative side, I hated hanging out white sheets to dry on a day they cleaned their stacks and the sheets were covered with brown residue.

The Sunbury plant was the first to produce instant tea, Nestea, in 1946.  In 1968, Sunbury added the first continuous Freeze Drying process and added  Taster's Choice to the coffee line.  This became the primary product from Sunbury.  

In 1981, a $27 million five story addition for a natural decaffeination plant was built in Sunbury.  Daily the plant removed 2,500 pounds of caffeine from a million pounds of coffee beans and sold it to Coca-Cola for use in soft drinks.  Caffeine became the new primary product for this plant.

Nestles was always a good neighbor.  A big user of water, they helped the village provide up ground reservoirs for water storage, built a water tower to provide water for their plant and extra water for the village when needed. In 1952, when the village ran low on water, Nestles provided tank trucks to haul water as well as helped open a channel to move water pocketed near the roadside park north of Sunbury. 1979 Nestles replaced a sewer line which also drains part of Sunbury.  $500,000 was given to Sunbury for water system upgrades shortly before word came the plant was to close.

The company was always looking for better ways to get  rid of the waste from the company.  In 1961 coffee-colored waste water from instant coffee was diverted to a 750,000 gallon lagoon so the coffee could settle out and the waste water sprayed on fields.  1980 Nestles and Young Environment Services began injecting liquid wastes from the plant on Paul Miller farm to see what kind of an impact it would have on the environment.. The unpleasant odor replaced the pleasant coffee aroma of earlier years..

Nestles and Hills Company merged in May 1991 and became the Nestles/Hills Brothers Coffee Company and then Nestle Beverage Company.   Unfortunately decaffeinated coffee did not continue to be popular so it was announced in 1993 the Sunbury plant would close. Colin Swift, plant manager, worked hard to help his dedicated employees find new jobs

At the time it stopped production, Nestles was responsible for 32% of the village income tax, 40% of the water fees, and owned 250 acres of land..

Many thanks to Verna Bergandine and her Nestle Scrapbook for the company's history.  The scrapbook is in Community Library.  

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1920 Baby Food Ad found by
 Dr, Livingston

  Nestle-1930-40-600.JPG (69204 bytes)

Early Nestle Photo

Left, E.C. Teut, plant manager honors 
Ernest Fivaz for 50 years service
 to Nestles, 
Mrs. Ernest Fivaz

  Mid 1930s
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Ralph H. Clark
Hubert Lake
Frank Reifenberg

Herbert Kempton
Donald Lake

Frank Frey

nestle3-1966.jpg (279457 bytes)

Frank Bergandine

Aerial View

Nestles Basketball Team

Columbus Street
north in 1966

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Topping Out Ceremony 8-16-1979

  Field2-600.JPG (92412 bytes) Field10-9-1980.JPG (161856 bytes)   Crane-1981.JPG (183005 bytes)

Begin Injecting Taster's Choice Waste into Miller farm land - October 1980
Jim Young, Anthony Hanes, Paul Miller,Bruce Goff, Jim Wimmers, Colin Swift


1981 Crane used to lift equipment onto plant

Watching July 4th Parade 
from top of Nestles-1984

WatchingParade.JPG (65844 bytes)  

More photos coming soon

The demise of the building 

. . . .And Now You Know
by Polly Horn


Go to the Removal of the Building
Return to
Local History Index

(08/20/2011 )

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