Ohio's Two Royal Crest Dairies ~ History by Joe Clevenger ~ Vintage Milk Bottles

by Joe Clevenger

#1 - Royal Crest All Star Dairy

Oren G. Hoffman began his career in the dairy business in 1913 at the Molen Dairy Company of Dayton. He worked at the Molen Dairy until 1922 when he went to work at the Dayton Steel Foundry. By 1923 he was back to work at the Molen Dairy and he stayed there until 1927. After leaving the Molen Dairy he went to work for Borden’s of Dayton. Mr. Hoffman continued at Borden’s until 1930.

The Royal Crest Dairy was founded by Mr. O. G. Hoffman in December of 1930. When the dairy started it was located in Englewood on the farm of Charles Wenger. This partnership lasted three years. As time went by the plant was moved to 3977 Salem Avenue. 

The dairy made ice cream, cottage cheese and bottled milk. When the dairy began it employed seven people, but by 1966 the company employed one hundred and sixty people. In 1940 the company was incorporated as the Royal Crest Guernsey Farms.

In 1956 Gene Cox and Pete Davis bought interest in Royal Crest. Gene had been a milk hauler since 1948. Gene continued hauling milk until his retirement in 1998. Also in 1956 Royal Crest began collecting milk by bulk instead of can. 

Royal Crest was a member of the Golden Guernsey Association. This was because the dairy used mainly Guernsey milk. Guernsey milk is high in fat, but more importantly it is high in milk solids. Other dairy companies had to add powdered milk to increase milk solids. Royal Crest was also a member of the All Star Dairy Program which was a buying association. The association allowed small independent dairies the opportunity to buy supplies at a cheaper price.

Over the years Royal Crest had various ways to promote their products. In 1956 Gene Cox bought a farm near Greenville on Route 121. Gene remodeled the farm so that it was a modern dairy farm that people could tour. Royal Crest had all of the school contracts for the City of Dayton. This amounted to four or five million dollars a year in business. The Dayton School Board wanted the students to know where milk came from. And so in the fall six to ten thousand Dayton students would be bused into Greenville to tour the farm and have a picnic in the front yard. Royal Crest would supply the milk and ice cream for the picnic. Royal Crest continued to use the farm for tours until 1969.

In 1957 the next promotion was for Hopalong Cassidy. Hopalong Cassidy was flown in and met with the kids and Royal 
Crest promoted their products to the children. In 1959 Batman was the next promotion. Gene Cox dressed up as Batman and 
met with the kids and promoted Royal Crest products. In the early years Royal Crest bottled in glass, but by the late 1950s the company decided to get out of glass, and bottled strictly in paper. 

In 1961 the P. D. Cosmos Company, of Springfield, and Sunglo Dairy, of Germantown, started a milk war in Dayton because to survive the dairies needed to increase volume. The price dropped from 79 cents a gallon to 19 cents a gallon. To compete in this price war Royal Crest started to bottle in one gallon glass jugs. By 1966 Royal Crest stopped bottling in glass again. It was more cost effective for Royal Crest to bottle in paper because the people of Dayton either would not return the bottle or would return them in a non reusable condition.

As the years went by it became increasingly difficult for the dairies to survive. Royal Crest bought out several of their 
competitors. In 1960 Royal Crest bought the Stockdale Dairy, of Mechanicsburg, and used the plant as a distribution center. In 1963 the Sun-Glo Dairy, of Germantown, was bought and was used as a distribution center and an orange juice bottling plant.

In 1966 Royal Crest merged with Med-O-Pure of Washington Courthouse. Med-O-Pure had bought out two smaller 
dairies one was in Chillcothe and the other was Sunshade Dairy, of Bethel, located on Route 52. Med-O-Pure used these dairies as distribution centers. After Med-O-Pure merged with Royal Crest the Washington Courthouse plant was used to make Royal Crest cottage cheese. The Bethel and Chillicothe locations were used as Royal Crest distribution centers.​ Royal Crest also bought the Alpha Dairy of Alpha. Alpha Dairy was a small dairy owned by Glen Coy. The dairy made ice cream, cottage cheese and bottled milk. Ringer's Dairy, of Xenia, also sold out to Royal Crest.

Royal Crest also had several independent distributors. In Coldwater was Jim Forsthoefel, in Eldorado was Winston 
Dickey, in West Milton was Granville Minnich, and in Ansonia was Jim Riffle. In 1960 Lowell Byrd started the Farm Fresh Dairy Store, on Main Street, in Greenville. The dairy store closed in 1969. Gene Cox purchased an independent distributor in Arcanum. He built up two more routes in the Greenville area.

In the late 1950s business for many dairies got very rough. Retail routes started to dwindle because it was cheaper to buy milk from a supermarket. To compete against the supermarkets Royal Crest broadened it’s product line for its retail routes. The line included non dairy creamers, dips, fruit juices, eggs, potato chips and goats milk for babies.

In 1966 Royal Crest sold its retail routes to the Moler’s Belmont Dairy of Dayton. From that point on the dairy had only 
wholesale routes that sold to stores. Royal Crest increased its private labeling of milk. Some of the companies that Royal Crest bottled for were: Kroger’s, Liberals Market, Foodtown Markets, King Kwik Minit Markets and Stump’s Supermarkets.

In 1967 Royal Crest began to buy ice cream and cottage cheese from the Hawthorne Melody plant of Bowling Green, Ohio. This was done to make room in the Royal Crest plant so that the bottling capacity could be increased.

In 1968 business was worse than ever and Mr. Hoffman wanted to retire. He wanted his partners Gene Cox and Pete Davis to buy him out. They did not do it because the return was three percent and the interest rate was six percent. So the owners decided to sell the dairy to the Hawthorne Melody Dairy Company of Chicago, Illinois. Hawthorne Melody closed all of the distribution centers in 1968.

On April 30, 1984 Hawthorne Melody decided to close Royal Crest. Several of the Royal Crest sales accounts were sold to the Reiter Dairy of Akron. Some of the equipment from the Royal Crest plant was moved to the Reiter plant in Springfield, Ohio. The plant was torn down a few years ago.

#2 - Royal Crest Dairy Farm

The Royal Crest Dairy Farm was started by brothers William and Joseph Madak. The dairy farm was located at 23310 Royalton Rd Columbia Station, Ohio (AKA Strongsville) and the dairy served communities all over north east Ohio. As the dairy business changed it became increasingly difficult for the smaller farmers.

William and Joseph always loved golf and it was at this time that their dream of having their own golf course started to materialize. The two brothers hired golf architect William Burdick and in the spring of 1966 Royal Crest opened its first nine holes to the public. For a couple of years that nine remained the only nine on the course while the other half of the property remained a farm. In 1969 the second nine was completed and the 130 acre course was a full round of 18 holes and has remained the same ever since. Today the barn is used as a club house for the 
golf course.


Editor's notes:
Here are pix of Royal Crest items I found online:

Hopalong Cassidy Clock
Royal Crest / All Star Dairy Products / Hoppy's Favorite

Royal Crest Guernsey Farm / Dayton, O. milk bottles.

Royal Crest Farm Dairy / Strongsville, Ohio
Bell-shaped milk bottle.

These bottles are called THRIFT Jars.
Here's what Joe Clevenger wrote about Ohio's Thrift jars in the 2010 FOHBC Nat'l Bottle Show Program (read the rest of the article, and the entire program here.)

Findlay Antique Bottle Club
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