The Cumberland Group
The American Scene
The story of Cumberland Packing Corporation is an unfinished success story.
From modest beginnings as the Cavendish Cafeteria, a restaurant owned and operated across from the Brooklyn Navy Yard during World War II by the enterprising Ben Eisenstadt, Cumberland has grown, until today, in little over 40 years it is a world-wide, multi million dollar Corporation - and still growing.
As the restaurant trade fell off in the early post-war years, Eisenstadt made the decision to switch from catering to supplying caterers and he set up in business packaging sugar in individual packets to supply to restaurants. It was in 1958 that he developed a low calorie granulated sugar substitute, called "Sweet 'N Low" after the title of his favourite song, packaged it in distinctive pink packets and added it to the range. The company took off!
Today Cumberland produce more than 80 million "Sweet 'N Low" packets every day. It is far and away the largest selling branded artificial sweetener in the US with a better than 80% share of the market.
Centred on the site of the original cafeteria the company's headquarters and main plant today forms just part of a complex spreading over several streets, with additional major plant facilities spilling over into the old naval dockyard. Other plants in Miami, San Fransisco, Wisconsin, and the United Kingdom together with licensing arrangements in Australia, Canada, the Middle and Far East, South Africa, South America, extend its operation world-wide.
Though clearly the star in the Cumberland firmament, "Sweet 'N Low" is just one of the successful and constantly expanding product range. "Nu Salt", "Sweet Magic", "Sweet 'N Low Brown", "Sugar in the Raw" and the newest to be added, "Butter Buds" - a natural butter flavouring with 99% less cholestrol and 94% fewer calories than butter - are just some of the products which continue to keep Cumberland in the forefront of the specialist food market.
The company is now led by Ben Eisenstadt's two sons, Marvin (Executive vice-president) and Ira (vice-president in charge of Production.)
Now largely self-sufficent, Cumberland has a major carton printing and maufacturing facility, in-house printing plants, rigid and flexible packing production units which serve the needs of other companies as well as their own.
The U.K. - Base for Europe.
When "Sweet 'N Low" crossed the Atlantic in the 1960's it obtained its first tentative foothold on British soil with a company called Dietary Foods (Bletchley) Ltd.
It was not until 1970, however, that it began to take root. Then the present Chairman and Managing Director, Graham Bright, re-formed the company and after successfully negotiating manufacturing arrangements with another company, began to establish "Sweet 'N Low" on the British market, with only the part-time help of his wife, Valerie.
Within eighteen months sufficent progress had been made to allow two major steps to be taken. The first was that David Rains - an old colleague of Graham's - joined the company. The other was the setting up of its own manufacturing facility on Canvey Island in Essex.
Rapid progress followed these two moves. So much so that in 1979 the company, still under its original name moved to its present location, a purpose built factory at Soham in Cambridgeshire.
Today "Sweet 'N Low" is firmly established on the British market where the distinctive pink sachets, together with its companion products, are becoming ever more familiar - especially on the tables of hotels and restaurants up and down the country.
A selection of sweetener packets from around the world.
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