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Evenflo was incorporated as the Pyramid Rubber Company under Ohio law on June 4, 1920. Our first facility was located at 226 South Prospect Street in Ravenna, Ohio. Our first products were rubber sundries, surgical supplies and Infant feeding nipples made by a cement drip process. Transparent nipples gained great favor under the trade names C-Thru, Sunshine and Crystal.
Evenflo’s roots can be traced back to the Pyramid Rubber Specialty Company, founded in Ravenna, Ohio, an emerging industrialized city on the outskirts of a region known as the rubber capital of the world. In addition to making a name for itself in the rubber trade, Northeast Ohio had become a landmark for the women’s rights movement. Ravenna was home to the Woman's Rights Association’s first meeting. Sojourner Truth had delivered her famous, “Ain’t I A Woman” speech, in nearby Akron, Ohio. In 1920, the year Evenflo was founded, the 19th amendment was ratified, allowing America’s women to cast their first ballots in a presidential election that would be won by Ohio-native, Warren Harding.
Northeast Ohio led the nation in advocating for women’s rights and manufacturing rubber goods, making it a natural birthplace for a product that would bring women a little extra freedom, at a time when freedoms were less entitled. In the years prior, brands like Quaker Oats and numerous glass companies were closing up shop in Ravenna for more industrialized cities in the midwest. Less than a hundred miles away, Pittsburgh was supplying 80% of the country’s glass in newly-invented natural gas-powered furnaces. Ravenna’s newly created Chamber of Commerce was eager to persuade the Pyramid Rubber Co. to begin operations in town. With its close proximity to Akron’s rubber trade and rail access to Pittsburgh’s glassworks, Ravenna would prove to be an ideal location.
Venting Valve System for Nipples drawing from patent application filed February 21, 1934
One day a stranger wandered into the Pyramid Rubber office eager to show us something. It was a particularly busy day and assuming him to be a salesman he was told we were not interested in buying anything. The stranger hung around and insisted to be heard. He pulled a small candy jar from his pocket with a prototype for a new nipple inside. The new invention featured a twin air valve that promoted liquid flow the same way a second hole on a gas can works. Intrigued, we brought the nipple into our lab and evolved it into what became the iconic bottle design for which Evenflo is named. The inventor, Yervant Kurkjian, made a royalty for each nipple made.
Did you know we have a sibling? An offshoot of the iconic Evenflo nursing unit named “Vitaflo” featured a more oval-shaped bottle and a less bulbous nipple. Vitaflo nursers were sold in department and chain stores while Evenflo nursers were sold in drugstores. Although Vitaflo nursing units are sometimes referred to as “the other Pyramid nurser”, both Evenflo and Vitaflo shared the same patented nursing unit design and coexisted in the Pyramid catalog until at least the mid 1950s.
During our early years we enlisted outside companies for the plastic and glass components of our nursing units. Glass was primarily manufactured by Owens-Illinois Glass Co., a giant in the glass industry who also produced bottles for Pepsi-Co & Coca-Cola, and Corning Inc., makers of thermal-shock resistant Pyrex. This was still long before dishwashers and sterilizers were commonplace so it was extremely important that the shape of our bottles be easy-to-clean, unlike the shapes of the century before. With this in mind, each bottle was molded to our exact specifications with a wide bottleneck and straight sides that also helped prevent the bottle from rolling.
Illustration of Cyril Porthouse used with permission from Sheila Liston.
In 1937, Cyril Porthouse joined the Pyramid Rubber Co. Porthouse had spent several years as a chemical engineer at Goodyear Tire before leaving to persue his dream of running his own business. A decade later, in 1947 Porthouse was given the opportunity to buy Pyramid, but only given a few days to raise the necessary funding. Legend has it that within 24 hours he was able to secure a loan of $1M from his wife’s former employer to take over ownership with Reuben Askanase, Aaron Farfel and Jack Barrett.
Under Porthouse’s leadership Pyramid International acquired and merged more than a half dozen companies under the flagship Evenflo name to form a complete baby products empire. These companies included Evenflo Products, Harcourt Manufacturing, Oil City Glass Co., Platt and Munk, Inc., Infanseat Co., and Evenflo Mexico. Porthouse held his position as president from 1951 to 1973, when he retired.
Left: Early Evenflo print advertisement. Center: Evenflo print advertisement from May 1939 issue of Hygeia Health Magazine. Right: Goldensky, Elias, photographer. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing slightly left. Dec 27. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/96523441/>.
In 1938 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which allowed the FDA to regulate nutritional standards for the first time.
Evenflo print advertisement from May 1943 issue of Hygeia Health Magazine. Pyramid Rubber Company factory image from 1949 issue of East Ohio News. Used with permission from Dominion Energy.
In 1940 President Roosevelt formed the Rubber Reserve Company with the set objectives for stockpiling and conserving the use of rubber. The onset of World War II cut off U.S. access to 90 percent of the natural rubber supply and manufacturers were restricted overnight. An outcry of unsolicited written requests from mothers across the country forced the U.S. government to lift the restriction for nipple manufacturers.
We were the only manufacturer marketing a nurser unit with a nipple that didn’t have to be pulled over the mouth of the bottle where it could easily be pulled off by an infant. Our SureSeal cap ring was a modern take on an artificial feeding mechanism that has been copied thousands of times and is largely unchanged even today.
July 20, 1942, publication from the Bureau of Priorities extending rubber usage to nipple manufacturers.
Pyramid Rubber Company factory images from 1949 issue of East Ohio News. Used with permission from Dominion Energy.
After World War II the U.S. experienced a “baby boom”, which helped drive demand for the Evenflo bottle. With business growing and patent protections still in place, we acquired Oil City Glass in Pennsylvania.
Vintage Evenflo bottles can be dated by the symbols or “Maker’s Marks” found on the base or heel of the bottle. From 1930 to 1952, Oil City Glass used an “O in a Keystone” mark. From 1952 to 1969, an Oil Derrick mark was used. Evenflo Bottles with an “O-I in a Diamond” mark were manufactured by Owens-Illinois Glass Company and likely pre-date the Oil City Glass acquisition.
Pyramid Rubber Company factory images © 1954 The Plain Dealer. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.
By the late 1940s the Evenflo nursing unit became the go-to choice for baby bottles, a fact that we touted for many years as “America’s most popular nurser”. At the time Evenflo began using the “Best for Baby” slogan, 3.2M infants, or 80% of babies born in the U.S., suckled on the patented bottle/nurser combination.
To keep up with demand we opened a second manufacturing plant in Ravenna in 1950, Evenflo México began operations in 1953, and a third manufacturing plant was opened in Tionesta, Pennsylvania in 1957.
“And there are the heartbreak problems. A baby is born without a palate. Recently a child in a nearby town came into this world without lips. There are improperly functioning throats. Technicians and the factory manager, Jo Shomack, go to work, and from the labratory come special nipples. Often these have to be adjusted to keep up with progressive surgery on the child. The company makes no charge for such individual attention.”Quotations and factory images reproduced with permission from 3-28-1954 article of Cleveland Plain Dealer.
“The newest line being turned out is a miniature replica of the nursing unit, distributed by a national toy broker. Now little girlscan give their dolls a bottle just like the one baby brother uses. Kennels have found these little bottles practical in the care of valuable motherless pups.”Quotations and factory images reproduced with permission from 3-28-1954 article of Cleveland Plain Dealer.
“The Ravenna firm is such a staunch believer in babies that it supplies triplets free.”Quotations and factory images reproduced with permission from 3-28-1954 article of Cleveland Plain Dealer.
“Going off the war in faraway places, at a tender age, has brought earlier maturity and greater courage to youth.”Quotations and factory images reproduced with permission from 3-28-1954 article of Cleveland Plain Dealer.
In 1958, the Pyramid Rubber Company began broadening its interests outside of infant feeding with the purchase of Platt & Munk, Inc., a publisher of children’s books. In 1962, Pyramid continued the trend of diversification by merging with Dunhill International, Inc., a company that included Dunhill Tobacco Stores, New York Railway, American Bank Note Company and A.G. Spalding Inc., maker of sporting equipment.
Additionally, Pyramid acquired the Infanseat Company, a baby carrier manufacturer that signaled Pyramid’s entry into the baby gear category.
In 1967 Dunhill merged with AP Parts Corporation, a manufacturer of mufflers, tailpipes and shock absorbers and were renamed as the Questor Corporation. Questor continued to grow through the rapid acquisition of Rand Rubber, Fischer Manufacturing, Delta Leisure Products, and Persenico Ski Company. In 1969 Questor Educational Products was formed from the acquisition of Child Guidance Toys which was consolidated with Platt & Munk and Spalding’s Tinkertoy division. Additionally, Questor acquired the mattress and crib/furniture brands Kantwet, Lullabye and Babyline, which allowed the Evenflo brand to crossover to a non-feeding related product for the first time.
In 1971, Evenflo introduced a new disposable bottle system called, Toss’ems. Toss’ems offered the convenience of pre-sterilized bottles that could be disposed of after each use. Around this time, Evenflo bottles had fed 70 million babies – more than all other brands combined.
In the early 1970s the Evenflo brand reached 98% brand recognition. Our iconic bottle was featured on the cover of the 1974 Billboard charting album, War Babies by Daryl Hall/John Oates. In the same year, Questor moved its headquarters to Piqua, Ohio.
Breastfeeding was on the rise for the first time in decades. In 1976, in anticipation of the growing trend, Evenflo introduced a full line of breastfeeding products consisting of nursing pads, breast pumps, breast cream, and nipple shields.
In 1977 we introduced the dynamically-tested rear-facing infant car seat, the DYN-O-MITE®.
In 1982 Questor became a privately-held corporation after a merger with Questco Holdings and AP Parts was sold. Two years later the organization Diego Cisneros purchased Spalding Sports Worldwide, Questor Juvenile Furniture Company (which was renamed Evenflo Juvenile Furniture Company), and Evenflo Products Company. Together, these three companies became a newly formed, privately held corporation named Spalding & Evenflo Companies, Inc. with corporate headquarters in Tampa, Florida.
From 1984 to 2007 the Evenflo brand would be acquired and sold by a handful of private equity investment companies. In 1996 Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) acquired majority interest of Evenflo from Cisneros. KKR sold to Harvest Partners in 2004 who sold to Weston Presidio in 2007. Throughout the transition, Evenflo’s headquarter’s changed from Tampa, to Canton Georgia, to Miamisburg, OH.
In 1995, Evenflo Juvenile Furniture Company and Evenflo Products Company merged into Evenflo Company, Inc. A year later we acquired Gerry Baby Products, makers of toddler car seats, gates and bath products under the Gerry and Snugli brand names. Around the same time, we had developed the ExerSaucer sub-brand that was used on child activity centers and jumpers and began heavily featuring licensed characters like Paddington Bear, Disney, Precious Moments, and Baby Looney Tunes.
In 2003 we introduced a new line of breast pumps and bottles. The breast pumps included the Comfort Select™ Electric Breast Pump, Comfort Care Manual Breast Pump and the ComfortEase™ Manual Breast Pump.
In addition, the new Purely Comfi Angled Nurser was released, with soft contour grips and an angled bottle that kept the nipple full so babies took in less air.”
In 2011, we launched a series of toddler cups that featured characters from the animated movie Penguins of Madagascar. A few short months later in 2012, Evenflo México and the global Evenflo Feeding business were purchased by Kimberly Clark de México. In November of 2012, Platinum Products Holding, Inc. bought the Ameda business that Evenflo Company Inc. had previous acquired in 2007. The remaining juvenile travel and home safety businesses were bought in June of 2014 by Goodbaby International.
From 2012 onward, U.S. Evenflo-branded products began to be marketed under the names Evenflo Baby and Evenflo Feeding.
In August 2013, we launched the first iteration of our flagship full-time use breast pump, the Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump. It has grown to become one of the bestselling breast pumps of all time.
Providing families with great feeding products is not our job, it is our passion. At Evenflo Feeding, we are driven by you – the parent, the caregiver, the partners in crime – and your little ones. Our female led organization is on a mission to ensure better care for every baby by providing families with quality, innovative products, at a price that does not break the bank. We are here to make feeding available and accessible to all, regardless of wealth or status or community, because we are…
Every Baby’s Advocate & Every Parent’s Ally™