Video: Inside Riverside's Foremost Dairies, Inc.

September 24, 2013 12 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Milk Production: "Triple Goodness". A 1948 video featuring an inside tour of milk and ice cream production in Riverside's famed Foremost Dairies processing plant.

In this 1948 video, Paul Reinhold, a Jacksonville business executive, financier and philanthropist, takes us on a tour of his company's milk and ice cream business.

About Foremost Dairies, Inc.

Located on the edge of Riverside, at 2903 College Avenue, the former Foremost Dairies, Inc. was one of the area's largest manufacturing companies for many decades.  Here, Foremost operated an ice cream and milk processing facility.

Paul Reinhold, a Jacksonville business executive, financier and philanthropist, founded Reinhold Ice Cream Co. in Oakmont, Pa., in 1916. In 1930 he began using industrial refrigeration techniques to freeze ice cream at a plant, considered the first of its kind in the nation.

In 1931, Reinhold was approached by J.C. Penney, founder of the department store chain, and was asked to direct an ice cream and dairy operation in Florida. Reinhold moved to Jacksonville, and the company was called Foremost Dairies Inc., in honor of Penney's prize bull, Foremost.

The company grew from a small operation serving several Southeastern states to an international conglomerate. By 1955, Foremost was the third- largest dairy company in the world with sales of $400 million. It eventually merged with Beatrice Dairies.

Reinhold also was one of the founding directors of American Heritage Life Insurance Co. and served on boards of many companies.

The Metro nightclub is located in Foremost Dairies, Inc.'s former garage.

Creating a Sense of Heritage

As his personal fortune grew, Penney began donating significant amounts of money to his favorite charities, which included the Christian Herald and a home for retired clergymen. He borrowed against his store stock and accumulated in excess of $7 million in personal debts. At the same time, this son of a Missouri farmer and preacher made two observations. First, he was concerned about "the low quality of beef and dairy animals found on a large percentage of farms." Second, Penney felt the great U.S. herds were being broken up after the owner died, contrary to what he saw in England and Scotland, where herds remained in families for generations. Penney purchased Emmadine Farm at Hopewell Junction, N.Y. On the advice of leading Guernsey breeders, Penney also bought Langwater Foremost for the then record price of $20,000. He then endowed the herd because he decided that "a lifetime was too short a period to develop a great herd of cattle." With creameries closing during the Great Depression, Missouri-born businessman J. C. Penney bought a Jacksonville, Fla., creamery and named it after his prized Guernsey bull Foremost which grew into the longest milk route in the world and is now the choice name used by a Midwestern-based farmer cooperative. In 1952, the herd was moved to the College of Agriculture, University of Missouri-Columbia. There are still a few Guernsey cows in the herd, though most of the cows are now Holsteins. Each Guernsey, however, can trace her lineage back to Langwater Foremost. With creameries closing during the Great Depression and with extensive holdings in Florida, including City National Bank, Penney bought a Jacksonville creamery. He named it Foremost Dairies after his prized bull. It originally operated in 12 southern communities and its net sales totaled $1 million the first year. By 1932, Penney had lost his personal fortune and was subject to unfounded charges that he had profited at the expense of fellow shareholders in the collapse of the Florida bank in which, he was a major investor. After a brief stay in a sanitarium, Penney returned to the post of chairman of the company and rebuilt his fortune. He resigned as chairman in 1958, and died in New York City in 1971 at age 95.

The former milk processing plant can be seen in the background of where the creamery once stood.

In 1978, the company was acquired by Louisville-based Flav-O-Rich.  Operations ceased in 1991.  A portion of the plant has been demolished but the buildings that housed the milk processing plant and container storage facility still stand.  The Metro nightclub, at 2929 Plum Street, is housed in the dairy plant's former garage.

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at