An Economic History of the Fruit Processing Industry in Adams County, Pennsylvania

Open Access
Boyer, Adam David
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Sally Mcmurry, Thesis Supervisor
  • Catherine Wanner, Honors Advisor
  • Fruit processing
  • Adams County
  • Pennsylvania
  • C.H. Musselman Company
  • Knouse Foods
  • Cooperative
  • Corporation
  • History
  • Economics
This thesis examines the development of the fruit processing industry in Adams County, Pennsylvania, one of the nation’s most concentrated areas of fruit cultivation in the United States. As the United States industrialized, improvements in transportation and changes in consumer tastes facilitated an increase in commercial fruit processing, especially in the Adams County Fruit Belt. The result was an agricultural market that became dominated by the canning operation of C.H. Musselman who established some of the region’s largest processing facilities. Although Musselman built a highly successful business venture during his lifetime, his successors made a series of missteps that antagonized the fruit growers who were critical to the company’s viability. In response to these paternalistic corporate practices, the growers revolted and formed a cooperative that they could directly control in order to best serve their needs. This cooperative would rapidly grow, eventually purchase the Musselman operation, and form Knouse Foods, one of the largest fruit processors in the world. Thus, the economic development of the fruit processing industry in south-central Pennsylvania can be seen as the success of a successful grower-owned, grower-focused cooperative over a paternalistic corporation.