The Tuttle Cheese Company was a local (headquartered in Oakland) producer of cheese, especially cottage cheese and cream cheese, active c.1922 – c.1969. It eventually became part of Kraft foods. (Some sources mention it later having been the cheese arm of the Foremost Dairy operation.)
In 1922, J. L. Tuttle headed a company then called Tuttle Food Products Company, which announced in mid-1922 that they would be building a new plant at 1367 Willow Street. A year later, a directory of dairies noted that the company's factory and office was at 615-619 23rd Avenue, although an advertisement in the November 27, 1963 Oakland Tribune noted that the factory would be auctioned off as part of a bankruptcy proceeding for the company. The company appears to have survived, perhaps by obtaining new investors - Mr. Tuttle apparently co-owned the company with J. I. McIntosh and Fred O. Namanny in 1926, when it moved into a new building at 1119 - 28th Street. 3
Although it continued to operate as Tuttle Cheese, in 1930, it was purchased by the Kraft-Phenix Cheese Corporation. 9 Kraft-Fenix itself was purchased by National Dairy Products Corporation, which eventually became Kraft Foods. 10
In 1938, the company moved into a new 10,000+ sq. ft. factory a few blocks away at 2327 Union Street, on the southwest corner of 24th and Union.
Another new Tuttle Cheese plant was announced in the Oakland Tribune on May 19, 1940 due to the increased demand for Tuttle’s cottage cheese. The new building, built of brick, tile and glass, was located at 2401 Union Street, on the northwest corner of 24th and Union Streets across from the prior location. At that time J. L. Tuttle was the head of the company, Fred Namanny the secretary and general sales; Duane Louis was sales manager, and Ed Kenealy was plant [manager?]. 2 The building still seems to be in existence and use.
On November 21, 1942 J. L. Tuttle was elected the new President of the California Cheese Association whose annual conference was held at the Hotel Oakland under the auspices of the Pacific Slope Dairy Association. 1
Tuttle Cheese Co. was a member of Union Local 29 in Oakland, and in the early 1950s union dues was $13.50 a month.
BTW, Does anyone remember the old Tuttle’s television commercial jingle here in the Bay Area that went something like “Tut, Tut, Tuttle’s, What’ll It Be? Tuttle’s … Naturally!” I remember "Tut, Tut, Tut, Tut Tuttles; Tuttles Cottage Cheese", notes C, D, E, F, G, C, D, C, B, A, G, and am dying to remember the rest. Won't stop going through my head.
Not the above version, but apparently a vintage Tuttle's ad (played on a theremin!) can be heard here.
An early 60s radio jingle began "Tut,tut, Tuttle, if you please/Tut, tut, Tuttle cottage cheese. I think the next line was "Tut,tut, Tuttle, good for you/Tut, tut, Tuttle, nutritious too." The next line ended "...for a heathy family" and the last one started "Tut-tut-Tuttle, can't resist" but I don't recall the rest.
In the 1940s, Tuttle's Cheese (like many other businesses in Oakland) had an IAA amateur basketball team, 5 and a baseball team in the 1930s. 6
On May 14, 1928 burglars who had stolen the Tuttle Cheese Co. safe from the offices located at 1190 - 28th Street were being traced because a Miss Leatrice Quatman used her lipstick to write down the license plate number of the burglars. Seems that she and her companion came upon the thieves on Tunnel Road as they were about to break into the safe with a sledge hammer. 11 Howard Kinney, Andrew Hector, and Henry Shepherd were convicted of stealing the safe and extracting $200 from it. Kinney was granted a re-trial because some key witnesses hadn't testified. 7
There seems to have been big money in cheese. On October 14, 1928, J. L. Tuttle was robbed of $500 in cash and checks by armed robbers. They apparently followed him from his home to the bank, where they kidnapped him. They drove him off in his own car, robbed him, and dropped him off, telling him he could find his car later in Hayward. 4
Links and References
- Polk’s Oakland directory 1928
- Polk’s Oakland directory 1933
- San Francisco, Exposition and Bay Counties, Telephone Directory, August 1938
- The Office Worker Office Employers International Union of the A.F. of L.
- Oakland Tribune, Sunday, April 04, 1943, Page 31
- Machine Now Mixes Cheese Oakland Tribune September 22, 1939
- Oakland Tribune, Saturday, November 21, 1942, Page 11
- Cheese Plant in New Home Oakland Tribune May 19, 1940 (lengthy description of Tuttle dairy processes)
- Tuttle Cheese Co. Erects New Building Oakland Tribune May 30, 1926
- Thugs Kidnap Oakland Man on Broadway Oakland Tribune October 14, 1928
- IAA Sport Notes Oakland Tribune January 31, 1942
- Busher's Own Corner Oakland Tribune August 4, 1931
- Safe Cracker Gets Retrial Oakland Tribune August 17, 1928
- New J. L. Tuttle Plant For Cottage Cheese Oakland Tribune July 22, 1938
- Oakland Plant Ships Tons of Cheese Abroad Oakland Tribune December 18, 1936
- The History of Kraft Foods Inc.
- Girl Uses Lipstick to Copy Burglar Clue Oakland Tribune May 14, 1928