AP NEWS

Then and Now: Western Dairy Products

May 20, 2019

George and David Brown already knew the dairy business when they journeyed to Spokane in 1888 and formed Hazelwood Farms, named after their father’s farm in Illinois, near the Hayford-Cheney Road and Sunset Highway.

Fifteen years later, the brothers claimed to operate the second-largest dairy in the country. They had organized farmers from as far as 100 miles away. Farmers would put their separated cream on a train to Spokane after the morning milking. The Brown brothers also built a butter empire and bragged that their products shipped to New York and the Philippine capital of Manila.

In 1926, Western Dairy Products purchased Hazelwood’s milk and ice cream business for around $500,000, coinciding with Western’s expansion into California markets.

That same year, Western Dairy bought the Bake-Rite bakery at Post Street and Mallon Avenue and converted it into a dairy plant. Western Dairy kept the Hazelwood name on its products for several years.

Hazelwood continued in the butter, cold storage and ice business at its plant at Pacific Avenue and Browne Street.

The Brown brothers and their brother-in-law John L. Smith started Hazelwood Irrigated Farms to sell off their West Plains land in parcels planted with apple and pear trees. They only sold a handful of plots and the project went bankrupt a few years later. They sold off their butter and cold storage business, which went under in the early 1960s.

In the late 1930s, an even bigger company, Arden Farms, merged with Western Dairy to create a new dairy conglomerate. The name Arden Farms went up on the building on West Mallon Avenue around 1940.

Arden diversified into many different food lines and grocery stores. Sunfreze was their ice cream brand.

Competition was cutthroat as home milk delivery gave way to the grocery store.

Arden Farms started showing losses in the early 1970s. The company sold off its Spokane dairy, which became part of a cooperative, Consolidated Dairy Products, the purveyor of Darigold products.

Production was moved to the large new plant on Francis Avenue and Division Street. The plant on Mallon was closed in the mid-1970s and torn down in 1977.

All contents © copyright 2019 The Associated Press.All rights reserved.