History of S. Oppenheimer Sausage Casing Company by Lawrence C. Stix, Jr.

File Feb 01, 12 55 27 PM

In writing the history of S. Oppenheimer, my father recounts his experiences as the last proprietor of the 100 year old family business.  (pdf format):  History of S. Oppenheimer and Company

46 Responses to History of S. Oppenheimer Sausage Casing Company by Lawrence C. Stix, Jr.

  1. Robert Oppenheimer says:

    I happened upon this page the other day. My cousin is the family tree guy. I was only vaguely familiar with the family sausage casing business. As a child, my folks took me to visit Larry Stix at his Scarsdale, NY home.

    I took the PDF document and saved it as a searchable PDF and exported as a docx if anybody is interested.

  2. Joyce says:

    I was looking through my cookbooks and came across one titled “Sausage manual and textbook for factories and departments under Federal Bureau of Animal Industry Inspection”
    A Guide to Quality…from 1934. Published by Oppenheimer Casing Co.
    96 pages in blue hardback book.
    It says it’s the 20th anniversary of the Oppenheimer Casing Co.
    It has recipes for different kinds of sausage, etc.
    Just thought you’d like to know that there is at least one copy around.

  3. Jennifer Lee Raynor says:

    My Grandparents and Great Grandparents founded American Casing Co. and my Grandfather Raynor passed away while VP of the company in 1965 (i think), I’m trying to locate the exact information. I will post more as I find more, great blog, thanks for writting it!

  4. Kellie Victoria Vincent says:

    I found this fascinating from a business perspective but mostly because my grandfather led the London/Swindon factory- William (Bill) Howlett . He worked his way up from a very young age and so I grew up with a certain degree of snobbishness when it came to sausages and would never touch supermarket versions. I also grew up hearing his management stories including making sure you chatted to everyone in the organisation in the morning and this seemed to be due to the very positive culture throughout the entire company. As an academic in business this really did leave a lasting impression with me so I found the account amazing.

    • jacullman says:

      Hi Kellie, I so appreciate that you took the time to write about the memories your grandfather shared. You must have been very close to him. He sounds like the kind of person and manager that has vanished from the workplace — which is really sad. When did he work at the company? Do you have any photos of from that time?

      Thank you again for sharing the DNA of your grandfather’s experiences.



    • Sigmund Aberle says:

      I am Jim Oppenheimer and my family owned the OCCO Ltd from London but moved to Swindon. Phillip Baker was our last Managing Director when we sold it in about 1981. Is this the company your are referring to? Would love to hear from you. My email is jimopp@gamil.com

      • Debra R Noel says:

        My name is Debbie Noel (Debra Hyland Noel). My grandfather Harvey Hyland Sr worked for the Oppenheimer Casing Co in Chicago. I don’t know when he started or what his position was, but he worked there until his retirement in the early 1960’s. I believe he had something to do with bookkeeping or in that department. If you remember him or have any information for the time he worked for Oppenheimer’s, I would love it if you could share it with me. He, my grandmother and my uncle have all passed and there is no one left to tell me about his work history (my father passed in 1959 and I believe that contributed to the decline in my grandfather’s health and subsequent retirement) Thanking you in advance.
        I can be contacted at debra465@gmail.com
        Debbie Noel

  5. Meredith Ponedel says:

    My family knew a Max Oppenheimer in Chicago in the 1940’s – who had something to do with a meat-packing plant. Does this name sound at all familiar?

  6. charlie fisher says:

    Thanks. He can get in touch with me by email. Cartalk99@yaho.com Charlie

  7. charlie fisher says:

    Do you have any more information about Harry Strauss? His full name, where he lived, etc. I looked for obits but found nothing. He was a favorite of my dad’s and I remember him fondly when I was a kid. Charlie

    • Michael Strauss says:

      I’m Michael Strauss, Harry’s son, and you can find the obituary on the Chicago Tribune website. Harry lived in Highland Park, IL and Scottsdale, AZ. I worked with him starting in the 1970’s, in the casing business and later in the equipment business and pharmaceutical byproduct business.
      Michael Strauss

    • Harry’s son Michael Strauss is in Business and I will cc him so you two can conect
      Here is my phone number…….248 613 6421
      Which will work for you.

  8. I am Allen Ross, and my Grand Father, Samuel Slotkin (Of Hygrade, bought Independent around 1952 to 54. I remember Lawrence Pfaelzer and George Fisher and Harry Strauss (who just passed away this week, and along with Charlie Volkening in Hamberg ; Jack Spiegel in South America. I went to NZ and Australia in 1958 and met Walter tonks and Clyde Kennedy, so for sure Hygrade had owned Independent before that date.Eddy Floman and Sam Smith ran Independent later on in the 60’s and Harry Strauss came to Detroit to be in charge of the Casing Group, which included SAYER & CO, Berth Levi plus Independent My fatgher David Rosenblatt ran Sayer in the middle to late 30’s During this time Sayer owned an Australian Company called AJ BUSCH
    I think it was Floman who perfected the “BLUE TUBE” Sheep Casing pack. This gave Independent a huge advantage.

    • jacullman says:

      Hi Alan, Thank you for taking the time to write. What a strange coincidence — I just found a picture of my father and another gentleman standing in front of Hygrade — perhaps you might know the identity of the other person? It’s remarkable (to me) how wide and far the businesses ranged.

      • jraynor says:

        Maybe the unidentified people are my Grandparents. My grandparents were married in London, but worked in Germany, and also part of the German American Club in Hamurg. I’ve been searching for years. My father passed away 9 years ago, suddenly, so I’m just tracing back my history for genealogy. The Mayer’s and Raynor’s were great in business together. The Mayer Ascessors were founders in Milwaukee during the mid to late 1800s

  9. charlie fisher says:

    I am a little better informed now having consulted the memories of my siblings. Oppenheimer and Independent were different from some time on. My dad, George Fisher , may have worked for Oppenheimer sometime in the 1920s in New York. He moved to Chicago in the early 1920s where he went to work for Sig Strauss at Independent Casing Co. (whether it was an offshoot of Oppenheimer I don ‘t know.) My brother is trying to dig out a college course interview he did with our dad in the 1960s. George traveled the world for Independent buy and processing raw material. He worked Germany and eastern Europe in the 1920s out of the Hamburg office. In the late 20s he was in South Africa. He met our mom in Baghdad in 1933 where he was overseeing the processing of sheep casings. In the 1930s he worked in Australia, and New Zealand for what I presume were offices of Independent Casing. Then out of Buenos Aires. In the late thirties he and the other two senior employees bought the company from Strauss. Independent apparently had interests in China and Cuba whose revolutions brought those to an end as did Nazism to the Hamburg office in Germany in 1936. In 1950/51 Independent was purchased by Hygrade and my dad moved to Detroit where he worked till he retired in 1967. He never like Hygrade. I don’t know what this all has to do with the companies in Australia, NZ or Texas which were called Independent or were related to do Oppenheimer. One Clyde Kennedy worked for my dad in Australia.

    • jacullman says:

      I will be posting some terrific photos and emails from sisters in New Zealand whose grandad worked for S. Oppenheimer. Perhaps you or one of our other visitors will glean info from them. The sisters are also looking for information.

    • jacullman says:

      I would love to see your brother’s interview. Sounds like your dad did not work for S. Oppenheimer but for Oppenheimer. If you want to pursue this from that angle I can put you in touch with an individual who would be more knowledgeable about the Oppenheimer Casing company.

      • Sigmund Aberle says:

        I am Jim Oppenheimer who was the last Chairman of Oppenheimer Casing co which I sold in 1987 I know a great deal about the company founded by my greandfather in 1914 in Chicago

        Email is jimopp@gmail.com

    • jacullman says:

      Hi Charlie,
      Thank you for the follow-up letter! Sorry for the delay in responding. I get so much more information from the other children and grandchildren whose families worked in the casing business. And who have taken the time to write.

      Last week I received the letter (above) from Alan J Ross, whose grandfather bought Independent – thought you might be interested.

      What a complicated and interwoven field the casing business was! The players all knew each other; the companies split and merged and morphed. The work spanned the globe – from sheep farmers in a field through inner city, industrial slaughterhouses to neighborhood butchers…manufacturers of tennis racket strings…..surgical sutures…international monetary exchange, wars, and more.

      The connections are remarkable given that much of this was in the age before direct international flight & the Internet.

    • Doug Brown says:

      First, a thanks to those who have posted here as I have been doing some light research on my great-grandfather, Berthold Levi (Berth Levi & Co., New York City) mentioned in some of these posts plus Lawrence Stix’s nice anecdotal history (which I have just started reading). Berth was born in 1855 in the Kochenddorf, Wurtteinberg in Germany, and emigrated to the US where it appears – from what I read – he did well in the sausage casing business. At one point his firm (“house”) had locations in New York City, Chicago, London and Wellington, New Zealand. He was married in to a Strauss though I have no idea if wife Anna was related to any casing-industry Strausses. After his death, his two sons (Arthur and George) were involved in the business before Berth & Co. must have been absorbed during some industry consolidation. I’m still learning. My family also has good friends named Oppenheimer and I have to wonder about the potential for a casing industry link there too.

      • Allen Ross says:

        I think I have written beforebut for he record; I am Sam Slotkin’s grandson, Allen Ross. I worked at Hygrade during the time that George Fisher and Laurence Pfaelzer ran Independent and Harry Strauss was the Operations Manager, along with Eddy Floman (in Canada) They put together quite a team and with quite a group of managers. Hygrade bought Independent around 1954
        In fact I have a photo from the late 1930’s and only one-man I can identify and that is my Father
        Call me if you wish

        Allen Ross

        Little Silver Corporation
        Office: (248)642 0860
        Mobile : (248) 613 6421
        Website: http://www.littlesilvercorp.com

      • Sigmund Aberle says:

        I am Jim Oppenheimer the last chairman of Oppenheimer casing co and would love to speak with you. My research indicates that Berthold Levi may have been related to me as a Max Levi had married a daughter of a Oppenheimer in the casing business from Heilbronn
        My email is Jimopp@gmail.com

    • Jim Oppenheimer says:

      I am Jim Oppenheimer the last head of Oppenheimer Casing which I sold in 1983. I would love to talk to about. your Dad and the casing industry and Independent Berth Levi etc
      My email is jimopp@gmail.com and phone 954-292-4700

  10. Hi, My name is Jo Oppenheimer and OCCO, as it was called, was owned first by S. Oppenheimer and then given to Harry Darwin Oppenheimer who then gave it to his youngest child, Edward Oppenheimer, my uncle. Eddie’s three sons continued to run OCCO for a while but then, I believe, it was sold to ?. If you want more information, contact Jim Oppenheimer, Eddie’s youngest son, at jimopp@gmail.com. He is our family’s historian.

  11. Hello!
    Wonderful stories, history and pictures. It is a pleasure to read your blog which I stumbled upon trough one of your old photographs from East Berlin in 1971 that I found on Pinterest.
    My name is Barbara and I am a German, born in 1959 in Frankfurt am Main. Since 2009 I’m living in Göteborg/Gothenburg, Sweden, married to a Swede. My main interests are photography and history.
    Please notify me of new posts via e-mail.
    Best wishes and a Happy New Year 2016!
    Barbara Nilsson

  12. GretchenL says:

    I am reasonably certain we are related via grandparents families. My grandmothers sister married an Oppenheimer. My grandfather owned Chicago Casing Company, David Falk. I believe he sold it before 1970. I have a letter opener somewhere with the name and logo.

    • jacullman says:


      Do you know which Oppenheimer your grandmother’s sister married? What was your grandmother’s sister’s name? On another note, did your grandfather have any family members in the security business (locks)? I am working with a person who happens to have the last name of Falk. What a small world!

  13. kerry griffiths says:

    Have found this website (by accident), only because of a photo I have of people sitting outside a business, with a plaque with Oppenheimer on it. Looks to be around WW 1. It would seem to be workers at the Petone plant in Wellington, New Zealand. I suspect you would love to see a copy of this! I have no idea why my Grandfather would have had this image, may have to look in my Great Grandfathers diary to see if there is any message that associates our family with the business.

    Give us an email, and sometime during the holiday break we will get a copy of this image to you.

  14. John Gram says:

    I’m in Portland OR and have two Mont Blanc marking pencils stamped “Oppenheimer Casing Co.” that I bought at a thrift store ~20 years ago. One is 5.75 inches long, 5/16 inch diameter with no clip but a Mont Blanc star on top. It’s loaded with red “lead.” The grip is black, round and smooth. The other is a double-ended marking pencil with no clip, 7.75 inches long, 3/8 inch diameter with blue lead in one end and red in the other. Both are octagonal black hard plastic except the double-ended has a smooth red grip and a smooth blue grip. Both are also stamped “Oppenheimer Casing Co.” The double is also stamped “Mont Blanc” and, on the blue end, “Germany.” The smaller has “Made in Germany” stamped on the facet opposite the Oppenheimer stamp. A web search shows Oppenheimer Casing Co., founded in Chicago, was a supplier of sausage casings and still exists, at least in Australia.

  15. Brett says:

    My grandfather worked for S. Oppenheimer at one point. He continued to work in casings and his boss’s name until retirement was Lawrence – I have photos of him with his manager. He was sent out to manage the “British American Bye product” company in Australia in 1934, which he did until retirement in the 1960s. I understood it was owned by Oppenheimer’s. Can you confirm?

    • jacullman says:

      That is very interesting! If Its not too much trouble, I’d love to see the photos of your grandfather and Lawrence, who is probably my father or grandfather.

      My knowledge of the company is based on what I was told by others, most of whom are gone.. But I suspect that the company your grandfather worked for was owned by Oppenheimers. I’d need to do a little research. Anyway, to complicate things a bit, for a time there were two Oppenheimer companies in the business.

      • Brett says:

        He began work Jan 1927 at the Chicago office of S. Oppenheimer & Co – 2700 So. Wabash Ave, Chicago, Ill. He later worked in NY and Toronto. My grandfather’s story is being published in August, and it includes a 1933 conversation with his manager, Lawrence, on being sent out to Australia to take over operations there. http://www.transitlounge.com.au/forthcoming.htm scroll down to Hard Times, Jack Mercer.
        I’m happy to share the photo if you can let me know your email address.

      • jacullman says:

        Wow! I can’t wait to read your grandfather’s book when it comes out. It sounds terrific! What a great gift he left you.

        Would love it if you can send the photo.

        Also checked my fathers account of the history of S. Oppenheimer on my blog, and it mentions the purchase of B.A.P.P. which is where I believe your grandfather worked. link below. See pages 4 and 5.

        By the way, was your grandfather related to a Berthold Levy (might be spelled Levi)? He is mentioned as a good family friend and instrumental in S. Oppenheimer’s operation in Australia…..and more.



        Click to access oppenheimer-casings.pdf

        Sent from my iPad

    • charlie fisher says:

      Reading Pacyga’s history of the Union Stockyards took me back in time. You can see my review of it on Amazon. Lawrence was Laurence W. Pfaelzer the man in the picture. He and my father, George G. Fisher and Charlie Rayner (? Spelling) bought the company from old man Oppenheimer in the late 1930s. They had been his top employees. They were bought out by Hygrade Foods of Detroit in the late ’50s. I worked there as a kid. I look forward to reading your piece. Charlie Fisher

      • Andrew Phillips says:

        Like pieces of a jigsaw it all comes together…In my 2011 response I mentioned that S Oppenheimer was purchased by Independent Products which was at that time a division of Hygrade Products (Hugo Slotkin). Ultimately Hygrade was acquired by Hanson Trust Plc, a British conglomerate, in the late 1980’s.

        In the spirit of evolution, when I left Independent Casing Co the company I formed was Hygrade Casing Company.

      • jacullman says:

        Hi Charlie, sorry it took
        So long to get your note posted. I see you’ve already received a reply from Andrew Phillips (below).

        Andrew, It is indeed a big jigsaw puzzle – and I must admit I am having a bit of trouble following it all.

        There is one part of the history that my father chose not to write about. And my knowledge is confined to something my mother said in passing after he died in 2006.

        She said some Chicago area relatives left S. Oppenheimer and formed their own separate company, simply called Oppenheimer Casing. I wish I had a better grasp of when the split occurred in order to clarify which company readers are generously writing about.

        I look forward to reading your book review on Amazon, Charlie.

      • charlie fisher says:

        In my last posting I was wrong about the date that Hygrade purchased Independent In Chicago it was not 50/51 but 1959/60.

  16. jacullman says:

    Thank you for sharing this interesting follow-up on what happened to the company after it was sold! It seems that the sausage casing buz has gone the way of the buggy whip — like so many industries that have evolved or become obsolete …it is both exciting and disturbing to observe how the evolution is happening faster and faster!

  17. Andrew Phillips says:

    A very interesting narrative, well done!
    I had several years (40) in the natural casing industry beginning, in 1968 with Independent Casing Company in Wellington New Zealand. Independent by that stage was a division of Independent Products of Montreal Canada with processing plants in Nelson (Sayer and Co) and Auckland (A H Wells) under the guidance of Montreal based, Eddy Floman.

    At that time too Australian Casing Company and BABP (Doug Lee) Had also come under Independent Products along with the Berth-Levi Company in Hamburg (Fritz Brinke) and Santa Clara CA (George Simpson) I believe this occurred as a result of Independent Products acquisition of S Oppenheimer…

    This gave the Independent group a global position in the purchase, selection and distribution of sheep and lamb casings.

    During my time with the company it expanded further in the United states Canada and Mexico with the acquisition of Master Casing Company, Canada New Zealand Casing Company and Oppenheimer casing company (As opposed to S.Oppenheimer).

    Eventually the reins of ownership passed to Eddie Tonks in New Zealand under the banner of New Zealand Casing Company. Regrettably that company passed into history in 1997/98.

  18. jacullman says:

    I wish I knew enough to answer your question. If my father were still alive, I’m sure he would be able to answer this easily. He probably even knew this family. What was their name?

    Even though I don’t know anything about the history of home sausage making. I do know that a lot of people still do this – and they purchase the casings as they do the ingredients and spices that go into them. My personal opinion(really a guess) is that due to the variables necessary to make a decent casing, the folks in Texas probably purchased them. This is just from what I read in my father’s account — casings had to have certain basic properties (porosity, flexibility and so forth) that were dependent on what the animals ate, the climate and so forth. And this was just to make them a useable product. Then, assuming the casing was good, useable quality, customer preference (and the ingredients in the sausage) determined the type of casings purchased.

  19. Elizabeth Harris says:

    Fascinating account. Do you know anything about the history of home sausage making in the U. S.? I was trying to discover whether a reasonably prosperous German- American farm family in Texas in 1936, which butchered its own animals and made its own wurst, would have purchased sausage casings or would’ve cleaned and stripped the intestines to make their own. As they purchased very little, I incline to think the latter. Does that seem right to you?

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