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The History of Kroger

Kroger began in 1883 when Barney Kroger invested his life savings — $372 — to open a grocery store at 66 Pearl Street in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1901, Kroger became the first grocery in the United States to establish its own bakery. Soon after, the company added an in-store meat department, too. (Until then, customers would have had to visit a grocer, baker, and butcher separately.) Kroger also established an in-store brand early on — when farmers came into town selling cabbage, Kroger purchased extra produce and had his mother make sauerkraut, which he then sold in his store. (Today, Kroger is one of the largest food manufacturers in America.) Interestingly, in the early days of the business, Kroger himself would sometimes deliver groceries to customers on his horse, Dan. Over time, Kroger expanded into a much larger business. In the 1930s, the company became one of the first grocery chains to conduct routine quality checks and scientifically test foods. However, Kroger wasn’t the first supermarket. In 1930, a manager named Michael Cullen proposed creating a series of massive stores with many departments and large parking lots, but Kroger rejected the proposal. Cullen then left and opened King Kullen, which is credited as America’s first supermarket. Kroger later adopted the format, as did many other grocers. In 1972, Kroger became the first grocery store in America to test out an electronic scanner. In the 1980s, Kroger locations evolved into combination stores that included new departments like pharmacy, beauty, and health. The chain also added florists to its stores and added fuel centers to the premises, too. Today, Kroger is considered the largest grocer in the United States with nearly 2,800 stores in 35 different states (although some operate under different names).

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