A Foundation for Success

On Tuesday, March 18, 1952, a 23-year-old Marvin Schwan packed his beat-up 1946 Dodge panel van with 14 gallons of his family's signature ice cream and delivered it to rural families in western Minnesota.

Today, Schwan's Company is a multibillion-dollar private company with more than 8,500 employees who are passionate about bringing quality foods to millions of people every day. Based in Minnesota, the company sells fine frozen foods in grocery-store freezers and in the food-service industry.

Schwan's announces the acquisition of California-based kimchi maker Cosmos Food Co.

Cosmos project 2023

Company leaders hold a ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of a 400,000-square-foot expansion of the pizza manufacturing facility in Salina, Kansas.

Ribbon Cutting 2023

CJ Foods USA and Schwan’s Company, both U.S.-based affiliates of CJ CheilJedang Corporation, integrate to establish one team focused on becoming the No. 1 ethnic meal player in North America.

CJ and Schwan's Company logos sit next to each other 2023

The company announces the launch of Hearth & Fire® craft-quality pizza. The brand is originally sold directly to consumers on its website and begins expanding to grocery stores in 2023.

Hearth & Fire Product 2022

Red Baron® pizza achieves $1 billion in annual sales

Red Baron product 2022

Schwan’s enters an exciting new era as an affiliate of CJ Foods. As a part of the agreement, CJ CheilJedang gains a majority stake in Schwan’s Company, and the company’s home-delivery business, Schwan’s Home Service, becomes an independent company that is 100 percent owned by the Schwan family.

CJ and Schwan's Company logos sit next to each other 2019

CEO Dimitrios Smyrnios announces the creation of Strategic Partner Solutions, a new Schwan's business unit focused on growing the company's private-label and co-packing businesses.

Schwan's Strategic Partner Solutions logo 2017

As Schwan's Company works to increase its capabilities in the U.S. pizza market, the company acquires MaMa Rosa's Pizza (Ohio), Better Baked Foods (Pennsylvania) and Drayton Foods (North Dakota).

MaMa Rosa's Pizza, Better Baked Foods and Drayton Foods logos overlay an image of pizza 2017

The company changes its name to Schwan's Company and rolls out new branding in celebration of its 65th anniversary.

Celebrating 65 years graphic sits next to the new Schwan's Company logo 2017

The company launches its Schwan’s Chef Collective — a team of internal and external chefs from across the United States who are developing the next generation of Schwan’s foods. Each member brings a unique perspective and is tasked with scouting emerging ingredients, cooking methods and global cuisines to continually influence innovation.

The Schwan's Chef Collective poses in front of the Schwan's Company Research & Development facility 2016

Dimitrios Smyrnios joins the company as its chief executive officer becoming the sixth CEO in the company's 61-year history. He follows Marvin and Alfred Schwan, Ken Noyes, M. Lenny Pippin and Greg Flack. Soon after joining Schwan, Dimitrios introduces six business priorities that include: Safety, Quality, Growth, Cost, Service and Culture.

Dimitrios Smyrnios 2013

The company enters into an official partnership with Feeding America, the leading nonprofit organization working to end hunger in the United States.

Feeding America 2011

Alfred Schwan, the last remaining Schwan brother, passes away at his home in Salina, Kansas. He was 85. Alfred was known as an adventurous and outgoing person who had a quick smile, relentless energy and a can-do attitude.

Flowers and photographs decorate Alfred Schwan's memory 2011

Alfred Schwan, the older brother of the company's founder, retires as the company's chairman of the board. He had worked for the company for 45 years.

Alfred Schwan 2009

Alfred Schwan, serving as chairman of Schwan's Company, is inducted into the Frozen Food Hall of Fame at an American Frozen Food Institute convention. He joined his brother, Marvin, who was inducted posthumously to the Hall of Fame in 2002.

Alfred Schwan and his wife pose for a photo at the American Frozen Food Institute convention 2008

Robert "Bob" Schwan, the longest-serving employee in the company's history, dies at the age of 76. Bob, the younger brother of Alfred and Marvin, first started working for Schwan's Dairy in 1948.

Robert Schwan 2007

Schwan's Food Service, Inc. introduces Big Daddy's ® pizza to the school food service market. Created to be a great-tasting alternative to pizza brought in from outside, Big Daddy's ® pizza is made with whole grains and a zesty sauce kids love.

Students line up to get a slice of Schwan's Food Service's Big Daddy's® pizza 2005

To further expand its position as a leading producer and distributor of frozen desserts, the company acquires the frozen-dessert business of Mrs. Smith's Bakeries and the Mrs. Smith's ® dessert brand.

A Mrs. Smith's® slice of apple pie sits on a plate 2003

The company officially changes its name from Schwan's Sales Enterprises, Inc. to The Schwan Food Company, and its major business units become their own corporations. The company would later change its name again to Schwan's Company.

The new logo features the official name change to The Schwan Food Company 2003

The company celebrates its first 50 years of business.

A collage: A Schwan's float rolls through the parade. Above a lit stage, fireworks fill the night sky 2002

The company buys Atlanta-based Edwards Fine Foods, a manufacturer and distributor of premium desserts. The Edwards® brand has grown to become a top brand in the U.S. frozen-dessert market.

An Edwards® chocolate dessert sits on a plateView 2001 Image > --> 2001

The company introduces Freschetta ® pizza in frozen-pizza aisles throughout the United States. To entice pizza lovers to buy its new pizza, the company builds an advertising campaign around "Etta," a spunky sample lady who asked the simple question: "Tried Freschetta yet?"

Etta the sample lady holds out a slice of Freschetta® pizza 1996

After Marvin's passing, his older brother, Alfred, was named as the company's president. Alfred had served as the company's head of manufacturing since he joined the company in 1964 and was intimately involved in all aspects of the business. Alfred leads the company with his strong, enthusiastic presence, guiding the business through both challenging and prosperous times.

Alfred Schwan

On May 9, 1993, Marvin Schwan, the company's founder, dies at the age of 64. Schwan's employees are stunned at the news. With one great idea and a lot of hard work and dedication, Marvin helped turn his tiny rural business into a multibillion-dollar company. Newspapers throughout the country carry Marvin's obituary. Some newspapers label him "The Emperor of Ice Cream."

A collage: Marvin Schwan stands behind his desk. A line of cars fill the street for Marvin's funeral procession 1993

The company enters the Asian-style foods category with the acquisition of the Minh Food Corporation and would later become No. 1 in the Asian snacks category with brands like Pagoda® and Minh® foods. Also in 1986, the company acquires Sabatasso Foods and begins operating the Kentucky-based pizza manufacturing facility that would later produce Freschetta® pizza.

Two cooked, personal-sized Sabatasso Foods pizzas rest on a cutting board 1986

The company launches its newest innovation — a 5-inch single-serve deep-dish pizza that is first launched under the Little Charlies ® brand.

A display of a Little Charlies® supreme pizza and egg roll 1983

To help market Red Baron ® pizza throughout the United States, the Red Baron™ Squadron is formed. The squadron of WWII-era biplanes would serve the brand for 28 years. During that time, it had become the longest-serving civilian aerobatic team in the United States and would carry more than 80,000 passengers.

Two Red Barron® bi-planes soar through the sky 1979

Red Baron ® pizza is introduced by the company's Consumer Brands division. The quality of the new product catches on quick with consumers and grows to become the company's best-selling pizza brand. The home-delivery business introduces corn dogs and the Ranchero™ sandwich.

A collage: Four generations of Red Barron® pizza packaging 1976

The company creates its Food Service Division (now Schwan's Food Service, Inc.) and provides its frozen pizza and other products to schools and other venues in the food-service industry.

A collage: Pizza sits on a school lunch tray. Students stand in line for Schwan's Food Service pizza 1975

On February 23, 1974, fire destroys the company's ice cream plant, corporate headquarters and distribution center in Marshall, Minnesota. After briefly entertaining the idea of moving corporate headquarters to South Dakota, Marvin makes the decision to rebuild in Marshall.

A collage: firemen work on the scene. A newspaper article covers the story 1974

The company installs its first computer, a National Cash Register Series 100, in a mobile home that is placed on the roof of the Ice Cream Plant in Marshall, Minnesota. The huge computer has 16 kilobytes of memory, approximately the size of an e-mail with no attachments.

A collage: a crane lifts the large computer. Two people work in the installed mobile home 1970

The company runs an ad in the Wall Street Journal with a simple headline: "Wanted: Frozen Pizza Manufacturer." The ad leads to the purchase of the company's pizza plant in Salina, Kansas, and the Tony's ® pizza brand.

A collage of two Tony's® pizza packages and the Wall Street Journal ad 1970

After acquiring Todd's Foods, the company begins producing sandwiches for its food-delivery routes.

A meat and cheese sandwhich on a bun 1969

The company begins manufacturing ice-cream drumsticks and sandwiches. It also ventures into frozen pizza when a Wisconsin salesman begins selling frozen pizza from route trucks.

An old advertisement of Schwan's novelties showing a family enjoying ice cream treats and a graphic of the novelty line-up 1966

The company is incorporated as Schwan's Sales Enterprises, Inc., and Marvin's older brother, Alfred, joins the company. Marvin's younger brother, Robert, had also been working for the company since 1948.

A collage of two pictures of the Schwan brothers and a newspaper clipping announcing Alfred joining the company 1964

Marvin added fish to the home delivery offerings. By this time, the company was expanding rapidly, operating in eight states by 1963. After 10 years of business, the company had grown to more than $4.5 million in revenues and 83 trucks were on the road.

A display of products: Frionor fish, Vita-Sun orange drink and Schwan's ice cream 1962

Route trucks begin carrying the company's first non-dairy product—a juice concentrate under the Vita-Sun® brand name.

Production line equipment fills containers with Vita-Sun then caps them 1957

Melting snow and spring rains cause the Redwood River to rise to record levels, flooding many homes and businesses, including Schwan's Dairy. Employees pitch in to clean up the five inches of silt that had settled on the floors of the dairy.

People and vehicles pass through a flooded street 1957

Marvin begins his plans for expansion. He locates his first permanent distribution depot outside of Marshall, a 16-by-24-foot freezer warehouse located in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, allowing for additional routes.

A Schwan's Dairy employee fills an ice cream container 1956

Marvin buys his first refrigerated vehicle, a three-quarter-ton Ford. An artist friend, Milford Paxton, paints the truck a creamy yellow (later trademarked as the Inca Gold ® color) and added a logo. At this time, Marvin was selling about 120 gallons of ice cream per day. Marvin also hires his company's first "career" route salesman.

Marvin Schwan stands in front of a refrigerated vehicle 1953

On Tuesday, March 18, 1952, a 23-year-old Marvin Schwan makes a delivery that would change his life and the lives of countless others. He packs his 1946 Dodge panel van with dry ice and 14 gallons of ice cream and heads north out of Marshall, Minnesota, to sell his family's premium ice cream. At the end of the day, he sells all 14 gallons and the home delivery business is born.

A Schwan's ice cream truck on a gravel road 1952

Paul and Alma Schwan and their 19-year-old son, Marvin, buy out a partner and start the Schwan's Dairy in Marshall, Minnesota.

A row of six Schwan’s trucks with drivers standing next to each 1948