We’re huge fans of Fromm Family Foods, a fifth-generation family-owned and operated artisan pet food company based in Wisconsin. Let’s go to the start of the Fromm story to learn how this great company came to be an American institution and a trusted source of food for pet parents and their dogs.

Cute dog eating from a blue bowl

The Beginning

The Fromm and Nienman Family history in the US starts in 1852, when the families emigrated from Germany in the hopes of making a new life in a country where land was plentiful. In the late 1800s, John F. Nieman is the first Nieman born and raised in the United States. As an adult, John moves to Hermansville, Michigan in the early 1890s to participate as a businessman and merchant in the logging boom of northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula. After he makes his fortune, he and his family move to Cedarburg. Around the same time, dairy farmer Fredrick “Fritz” Fromm marries AlwinaNieman. They have five children: Walter, Edward, John, Henry, and Erna.The brothers have a dream—to raise silver foxes.

A Family Business from Day One

In 1916, Alwina Nieman-Fromm co-signs a $6,800 loan with her 160-acre farm as collateral to provide the four Fromm brothers (her sons) with enough money to carry out their business plan. Four years later, the brothers turn to their relative John Nieman for an infusion of capital. In 1924, Edward Fromm teams up with Dr. Green at the University of Minnesota—this leads to the formation of Fromm Laboratories in Grafton, Wisconsin, where they begin work on the fox distemper vaccine. In 1925, Fromm Bros., Nieman & Co. builds its own food manufacturing plant in Mequon, Wisconsin. This allows them to continue producing their own nutritionally geared recipes at a volume sustainable for their growth. (This plant is still in operation today and serves as the primary research and development area for new foods and treats, and a home base for the company.)

All this hard work leads to the world’s first litter of 11 silver foxes, which were born on the company’s farm in Mequon-Thiensville in 1933. After 15 long years, Dr. Robert Green and Fromm Laboratories, Inc. create and market the fox encephalitis vaccine, a fox distemper vaccine, canine distemper vaccine, and feline distemper vaccine—utilizing attenuated viruses developed through their research work with ferrets. This achievement marks a major milestone in dog, cat, and fox health. The next step, in the 1940s, was to harness the expertise of biochemist Dr. Willard Roberts to pioneer the process of cooking meat and grain together to produce the first all-granular pet food, and in 1948, Federal Foods is formed. Just one year later, the first bag of Fromm Complete Dog Meal is sold. (Federal Foods, Inc. is renamed Fromm Family Foods, LLC. In 1995 to reflect its 4th generation ownership and the company’s strong family values.)

Getting Into the Pet Food Business

Over time, the company fine-tunes its recipes, venturing into lifestyle specific recipes with formulas such as “Hi-Stress” food for working dogs in the 1970s, to the use of mixed tocopherols as a natural preservative in the 1980s. The 1990s see Fromm formulas using a better quality protein in its recipes, and the 2000s usher in meals highlighting high quality meats and fish as the first ingredient complimented with a vast array of fresh fruits and vegetables.

To keep up with demand, Fromm has grown to two plants—Columbus, Wisconsin and Mequon, Wisconsin—proudly sticking to its Wisconsin roots and keeping all of its food American made and sourced. And that’s how a long history makes such a great pet food.

By: Amy Tokic