This Michigan Woman Created America’s First Baking Mix in a “Jiffy”
It's one of the most recognizable boxes on store shelves, but did you realize one of America's most beloved baking mixes got its start right here in Michigan? Because I sure didn't!
The Chelsea Milling Company has had roots in the flour milling industry since the late 1800s, but it was one Michigan woman who first thought to create America's first prepared baking mix which is still used in households across the country to this day.
Chelsea Milling Company
E.K. White first founded the flour mill in 1887 before it was reincorporated as the Chelsea Milling Company after its sale to Harmon S. Holmes in 1901. Established as a traditional flour mill located in Chelsea, Michigan it originally started as a commercial operation that only sold its flour to other businesses. In the spring 1930 Holmes' daughter-in-law had a special interaction that would change the fate of the business entirely.
Mabel White Holmes
Born in Illinois in 1890, Mabel White Holmes became a school teacher after graduating from Chelsea High School and pursuing a degree at the college now known as Eastern Michigan University. While it was her father-in-law and husband Howard Holmes who ran the flour mill, inspiration struck after Mabel encountered a recently widowed father who was having trouble making biscuits for his son. Mabel was determined to help the family in need and in the process created the first prepared baking mix in the United States.
"So Easy Even a Man Could Do It"
Mabel was determined to create a pre-made baking mix to help those in similar situations and soon, with the support of her husband, Mabel had created a cheap and effective way to make the perfect biscuits "in a jiffy." Since the mixture only required the preparer to add milk the company says, "the Holmes' new venture was able to help many families who were recovering from the effects of the Great Depression."
Even to this day Jiffy says their goal to feed America throughout tough economic times remains the same. Today Jiffy holds a 65% market share of the prepared muffin mix market and is the most popular corn muffin mix there is!
Mabel White Holmes was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in 2015 and the Jiffy company headquarters is still located in Chelsea. Daily tours are postponed due to Covid, but will hopefully resume soon! A Jiffy mix statute named "Corny" greets all guests entering the facility.