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Cudahy Employee Pin

Date: c. 1950


Description: This triangular pin once belonged to an employee of the Cudahy Packing Company, the first of Sioux City’s “Big Three” meatpacking houses. The number at the base is the employee’s identification number. Cudahy Packing Company was started in 1887 by Patrick Cudahy and his brother John, who were Irish immigrants looking to flee the famine. They came to Sioux City in 1892 and quickly grew into the city’s largest packing plant. By 1922 the company was based out of Chicago and was one of the largest packing houses in the United States, with plants across the country. Patrick Cudahy bought a tract of land in Wisconsin that would eventually become the town of Cudahy, Wisconsin, which still exists today. Cudahy’s main market was originally in Europe where there was a high demand for American pork, but in the mid-1920s high tariffs caused them to switch to domestic sales. The company prospered but fell on hard times in the 1950s. By the 1970s the company was dismantled and sold off to other packing houses.


The Cudahy plant in Sioux City was the largest plant in the company. Its chairman was A. E. Mills and at its peak employed over 1,700 workers and could process over 80 beef carcasses an hour on the abattoir. Along with meat Cudahy also processed other by-products, such as fertilizer, margarine, glue, and lard. In 1945 the Sioux City plant received the prestigious “A” Award from the United Sates War Food Administration for the meat and food products they provided for the war effort. Along with business Cudahy also sponsored many different athletic teams and clubs in Sioux City, usually staffed by company employees. The plant closed in 1954 with the decline of the company and the meat industry in Sioux City.

Donor: Robert Weare Howe


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