Thursday, July 4, 2024

Bigelow Tea: From Kitchen Creation to Household Name

Bigelow Tea, a renowned name in the tea industry, has a rich history dating back to 1945 when Ruth Campbell Bigelow created the iconic "Constant Comment" tea in her kitchen. This specialty tea, a blend of black tea, orange rinds, and sweet spices, marked the first of its kind in the United States. The inception of this now-famous tea company stemmed from challenging circumstances: Ruth's husband, David Bigelow, lost his publishing job, and Ruth's interior design business was severely affected by the Great Depression.

The Bigelows began their tea venture in their New York brownstone apartment. Despite financial constraints, David meticulously managed the finances to ensure the fledgling business could survive. Their perseverance paid off as the tea gained popularity, prompting Ruth and David to sell their city home and move to Connecticut in 1950. There, they purchased a small factory in Norwalk, beside the Norwalk River, laying the foundation for future growth.

In 1957, the business moved a mile away to a larger, classic New England brick factory on Merwin Street, Norwalk. This relocation was pivotal as it marked the beginning of significant advancements for Bigelow Tea. In 1958, the company acquired its first tea bag machine, enhancing production efficiency. The late 1950s also saw Bigelow Tea transition from being available in specialty shops to supermarket shelves, broadening their consumer base.

The 1960s were a transformative decade for the company. Ruth and David's son, David Bigelow Jr., joined the family business in 1960 and took over its leadership in 1963. Following the deaths of Ruth in 1966 and David Sr. in 1970, David Jr. and his wife Eunice led the company with integrity, passion, and determination. Their leadership propelled Bigelow Tea to new heights, cementing its status as the number one specialty tea company in the country.

The 1970s brought another wave of innovation as Bigelow Tea began packaging their teabags in folding cardboard boxes instead of tins, a move that significantly boosted sales. This change not only made the product more accessible but also more appealing to a broader audience.

Today, Bigelow Tea remains a testament to the resilience and vision of Ruth Campbell Bigelow and her family. From humble beginnings in a kitchen to becoming a household name, Bigelow Tea's journey reflects the enduring legacy of quality, innovation, and family values.
Bigelow Tea: From Kitchen Creation to Household Name

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