"Jiffy": A Family Tradition, Mixing Business and Old-Fashioned Values

Cynthia Furlong Reynolds
The story of the internationally renowned Chelsea Milling Company—a trailblazer in the packaged-food industry


Nearly eighty years ago, American housewife Mabel Holmes decided to make a biscuit mix so easy that "a man could do it." She began to experiment in her own kitchen, and several months later, the family's milling business, tucked away in the tiny village of Chelsea, Michigan, was selling "Jiffy" Biscuit Mix, America's first prepared baking mix.

At the turn of the last century, Michigan had more than 700 flour mills. Today Chelsea Milling, one of the five mills that remain, is an internationally renowned trailblazer in the packaged-food industry. Four generations have nurtured the company with values so old-fashioned they have become revolutionary. The Holmes family has survived world wars, the Great Depression, personal tragedies, and monumental changes in the food industry. Through it all, they've managed to retain both their private and public integrity while competing head to head with industry giants many times their size.

Today, Jiffy's distinctive towers are Chelsea's most famous landmark. Every year, between 16,000 and 18,000 people tour the Chelsea Milling Company, home of America’s favorite packaged mixes.

This is the story of the Holmes family and their local employees who joined together to make Chelsea Milling Company what it is today—a touchstone for any business trying to survive in the modern world.

Cynthia Furlong Reynolds is a journalist and the author of Our Hometown: America's History as Seen Through the Eyes of a Midwestern Village, winner of the 2002 Michigan Notable Book Award. She has also written twelve books for children and many corporate histories. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with her husband and three children.

Praise / Awards

  • Named a 2009 Michigan Notable Book

Product Details

  • 6.75 x 9.14.
  • 248pp.
  • 150 B&W photographs.

Published by

  • Chelsea Milling Company
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2008
  • Available
  • 978-0-9802326-0-8

Add to Cart
  • $24.95 U.S.