Take a trip down memory lane with us and learn about the history of Edward & Sons! Our story starts with an Airstream trailer and a passion to make and sell vegetarian convenience foods. Hop aboard and scroll through our journey below!
Our founder, Joel Dee, drove around the country selling Miso-Cup® out of an airstream trailer hitched to his Chevy truck.
At the age of 22, Joel Dee is developing export markets for his family’s candy business, Ce De Inc, creators of the iconic American "Smarties" candy roll, which was founded by his father Edward. Joel had recently become vegetarian and, as a young, traveling salesman spending a lot of time on-the-road, he has difficulty finding restaurants with vegetarian options.
The iconic "Smarties" candy roll.
While calling on customers in Belgium, he discovers packets of freeze-dried miso powder in a small health food store, finding they nourish him throughout his continuing travels. After returning to the USA, he seeks to replenish his instant miso supply, but learns that American health food stores have no interest in “convenience” foods. And instant miso he can find in Asian markets contains fish, artificial ingredients and preservatives. Vegetarian convenience foods made from unadulterated ingredients are nowhere to be found in grocery or health food stores. His search leads him to a health food trade show, where the industry's lack of interest in convenience foods dashes his hopes.
An original Miso-Cup® advertisement.
Joel begins to see it as his duty to change this. He knows where he has to begin. Freeze-dried miso had been a life-saver during his travels and he misses it dearly. He reasons that others would also appreciate its convenient and flavorful nourishment if they had the chance to experience it. While visiting Japan to call on a candy business customer, Joel makes side-trips to visit miso producers and begins product development of instant miso soup.
Joel in Japan being taught to play the game of "Go".
After a year of product development, the first production of instant miso soup arrives in NJ. Joel resigns his duties in the family candy business and puts all efforts into the new business, which he names after his father and brothers. Joel launches Edward & Sons Trading Company with the introduction of Instant Miso-Cup® soup mix, aligned with his mission to bring wholesome, vegetarian convenience foods to American consumers.
The original Miso-Cup® packaging.
Having no contacts or customers in the "health food industry", Joel began loading his first samples into a used Airstream trailer hitched to his Chevy. Joel and his significant other drive to health food stores throughout the the country making Miso-Cup® for those they encounter along the way. This begins to build a sales and distribution network. Overnighting in campgrounds and parking lots, each new day brings new stores and new shoppers to introduce to the easy preparation and satisfying nourishment of Miso-Cup®.
Sampling the original Miso-Cup in a health food store, circa 1979.
Joel travels back to Japan, where he develops our second product line. He finds a traditional rice cracker factory in the Sakata prefecture of Japan who agrees to custom-bake traditional usuyaki-style rice crackers from genmai (Japanese for "whole grain rice"). Edward & Sons introduces introduces Baked Brown Rice Snaps® wholegrain, gluten-free crackers to America, decades before "gluten-free" becomes a huge dietary trend"
An original Brown Rice Snaps® advertisement
With retailers and distributors now established from coast-to-coast, Joel can no longer administer the business from the road and settles on 56 acres outside the small mountain town of Saluda, North Carolina, about an hour south of Asheville.
The 56-acre property in Saluda, with the Edward & Sons sign.
We announce Premier Japan® to the public. The line presents Americans with a wide range of traditional Japanese specialties, from Shiitake to Soba noodles, which later was streamlined to focus on the first organic, gluten-free Asian sauces Premier Japan Teriyaki Sauce and Hoisin Sauce.
The Original Premier Japan® product family.
Joel moves the Edward & Sons' headquarters 80 miles north of Los Angeles to Carpinteria, California.
Edward & Sons Trading Co. acquires The Wizard's® brand from John Troy and we start selling the first vegetarian Worcestershire sauce. Before the Wizard’s creation, all Worcestershire sauce contained anchovies, and our goal was to create a Worcestershire sauce suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
In 1999, we bring the first Organic Hearts of Palm to the US under our Native Forest® brand. In 1999, we also introduce two new QAI certified organic Miso-Cup® varieties: Traditional Miso-Cup® with Tofu and Organic Reduced Sodium Miso-Cup®. FUN FACT: Our pioneering vegan logo has appeared on our vegan products since August of 1999!
In 2002, we introduce American consumers to the first organic coconut milk under our Native Forest® Brand.
In 2004, we bring the first organic vegan ice cream cones to life under our Let's Do... Organic® brand. This same year we introduce the first organic canned pineapple under our Native Forest® brand. Later, we added Let's Do... Gluten Free Ice Cream Cones to our line of products to offer a tasty treat for those with a gluten intolerance.
In 2007, we introduce Native Factor® Coconut Water to our product family.
In 2008, Miso-Cup® turns 30 years old. Many quick soups are packaged in disposable cups. We think it is more convenient and ecological to carry a pouch or two of Miso-Cup® in your pocket, purse or briefcase.
In 2014, we introduce our More Than Fair® brand consisting of Certified Fair-Trade Coconut Milk and Artichokes. Our Fair-Trade certification confirms compensation for farmers and respect for the environment. Farmers are protected from the risk of falling market prices, and premiums are paid for investment on socially beneficial projects in farming communities.
In 2018, Edward & Sons Trading Co. turns 40 years old! We've been around longer than the internet, CD's, MRI's, cell phones, and laptop computers. If that doesn't age us, we don't know what does!
Join us for our future as we innovate organic and vegetarian foods for stores and consumers throughout the globe. When you purchase our products you are supporting a family owned and operated business. We don't make our decisions like the big guys do, as a privately-owned company our main focus is on our customers, unlike most large companies that make decisions for their shareholders. We support these companies, but as a privately-owned company we are confident in being there for our consumers and what they put in their bodies.
Our founder Joel Dee, and Alison Cox (VP of Sales & Marketing), visiting our Organic Green Banana Supplier in India.