PURINA® History

History

We believe that when people and pets come together, life is better. It’s a sentiment that has been part of our businesses through time and really brought to life through the PURINA® brand that William H. Danforth created in 1904. This belief is now placed at the heart of everything we do and the products we make across the globe

The PURINA® we know today is the coming-together of three established pet care businesses: PURINA®, SPILLERS® and FRISKIES®. Each has its own rich heritage, and has played a vital role in establishing PURINA® as a global leader in pet nutrition. Want to find out more? Use the tabs below to discover each brand’s unique history.

1829

Joel Spiller sets up business as a Corn Factor and Dealer in Bridgewater, Somerset.

1840s

With a little help from business partner Samuel Browne, Spiller builds the UK’s second ever steam-powered mill.

1856

Spiller and Co. takes on a second premises – a bakery in Cardiff. The company’s first ever dog biscuits are produced here shortly afterwards.

1887

Spiller and Co. becomes a public company.

1890

Spiller and Co. merge with Bristol-based William Baker and Sons to become Spillers and BAKERS® Limited.

1894

Along with George Robinson and William Andrews, William H. Danforth founds the Robinson-Danforth Commission Company. Together they set about the business of manufacturing feed for farm animals, changing the name to Ralston PURINA® in 1902.

1907

Spillers and BAKERS® Limited launch SHAPES – a brightly coloured biscuit for dogs. 100 years later, and SHAPES is still available in the shops!

1914

World War I is declared on 28th July. By this time, Spillers is producing 18 different varieties of dog biscuits at factories in Cardiff, Bristol, London, Newcastle and Birkenhead.

1920s

The world’s first research centre for canine nutrition is opened in Seattle, USA by the Carnation Corporation – the company behind Friskies.

1923

Almost a hundred years after its foundation, Spillers continues to expand dramatically, taking over no fewer than seven subsidiary companies by 1923.

1926

PURINA sets up the very first pet nutrition and care centre at PURINA® Farms, near Gray Summit, Missouri. Here, PURINA® experts would formulate and test their pet food products to ensure they were both appealing in taste and highly nutritious. Today, this centre has evolved into the Nestlé PURINA® Pet Care Centre in Northwest Missouri.

1926

Spillers is officially fit for royalty, as the brand is granted the Royal Warrant for dog food.

1924

WINALOT® is launched as a specialist food for greyhounds – fuel to ‘win a lot’ of races! At the same time, the company decides to unify and consolidate its sub-brands, and re-launches under a new name: Spillers Limited.

1930s

The pet food and animal feed trades take off, with Spillers’ WINALOT®, SHAPES and SAVAL all becoming UK brand leaders.

1939-1945

With the War came rationing – and a severely restricted supply of flour for dog biscuits. The use of tin plate for canned pet foods is also prohibited.

1948

Friskies bring something new to the pet food market… their first ever range of canned wet food for dogs.

1950s

Following the success of their canned wet food for dogs, Friskies share the love with their feline friends and launch their first range of tinned cat foods.

1953

Restrictions on flour and other cereals are finally lifted, leading to a new surge in the bakery and pet food markets – and intense competition.

1956

PURINA® celebrates another world first, as Purina Dog Chow® becomes the first pet food made using extrusion technology. This same technology is still used to make the distinctive shapes we know as ‘kibbles’ to this day.

1958

Tails are set wagging BAKERS® the country as Spillers launch their first ever meat-based canned dog food – WAGALOT.

1960

Spillers acquires Spratts Patent Limited, and with it their leading brand, BONIO® – the original bone-shaped dog biscuit. New brands PRIME and PRIZE soon follow popular cat food brand, TOP CAT, to be distributed nationwide.

1963

PURINA® answers the needs of a growing population of American housecats by launching a new range – Purina Cat Chow®.

1964

Having taken over Scottish Animal Products Ltd., Spillers increases production of canned pet food three-fold thanks to new canneries in Barrhead, Scotland and Malone, Northern Ireland. The takeover also sees two leading brands added to their portfolio - ARTHURS (originally KATTOMEAT) and KENNOMEAT.

1969

It’s a busy year for Spillers. Not only do they set up the Spillers Nutritional Centre and Pet Care Unit, they also buy out Wright & Company Ltd., acquiring Wright’s ALL-IN-ONE biscuit brand in the process.

1972

Two more leading pet food brands are added to the Spillers mix – this time, STAMINA for dogs and PAWS for cats. Both are acquired from the takeover of Stamina Foods, a sub-brand of Rank Hovis McDougall Ltd.

1973

Having recognised that small dogs require their own special nutrition, Friskies launches the Mighty Dog brand – a specially formulated range for more ‘compact’ canines.

1975

Always one step ahead of the competition, Friskies launch GO-CAT® – the world’s first 100% complete and balanced dry cat food.

1979

Spillers head for pastures new and relocate their Head Office to New Malden, Surrey.

1980

The Spillers Group is bought out by the Dalgety Group for £72.5 million.

1985

Nestlé S.A. acquires the Carnation Corporation, including Friskies Pet Food. Together, they decide to keep the Friskies name to become Friskies Europe.

1986

Ralston sells the PURINA® Mills animal feed business so that the company can focus on dog and cat food.

1987

PURINA® launches its groundbreaking 14 year study, which scientifically proves that feeding dogs to their ideal body condition can help them to stay healthier for longer. In the same year, PURINA® establishes Pets for People – a dedicated resource to help re-home shelter animals. Today, Pets for People is involved with nearly 6,000 welfare organisations in the US alone. The Pets for Seniors program is set up shortly afterwards, helping reduce pet adoption costs for American senior citizens at 150+ shelters.

1990

A new year, an exciting new acquisition for Friskies Europe. This time, it’s ALPO Pet Foods (USA), the brand whose spokesman, Lorne Greene, had such faith in its produce, he even tasted the food for himself!

1993

Paragon Petcare, with manufacturing plants in France, Germany and the Netherlands is acquired from BP Nutrition Ltd, adding the BETA® brand to the company’s UK portfolio, and the DOKO and DOKAT brands in Europe

1995

The Dalgety Group acquires Quakers' European pet food business, including leading cat food brand FELIX®

1998

Almost 170 years after its inception, Spillers Pet Foods joins forces with Nestlé S.A. to become one of the world’s largest pet care companies.

1999

Nestlé sets up the world’s first and only Canine Reference Family DNA Distribution Center to help top researchers advance their work in canine genetics.

2001

On 12th December, Nestlé takes on Ralston Purina to become Nestlé PURINA Pet Care, a move which helps increase the availability of PURINA® products across the globe – much to the delight of pets and owners alike!

2010

After years of planning, the PURINA® Event Center is unveiled. Designed to host even the largest cat and dog shows, the indoor exhibition space features a padded sports floor, 150+ grooming stations and dedicated dog bathing room.