You may know the brand, but do you know the story?
Founded by Carl Hilmar Guenther, Pioneer is a Texas-born company that began as a family-owned and operated business. That’s right! Its roots trace back to our very own Fredericksburg, TX, where Carl opened his first flour mill in 1851.
Growing up in Germany, Carl was one of eight children, his family were cloth merchants and Lutheran clergymen. After completing homeschooling along with an apprenticeship with a skilled miller, and in his early 20’s he became restless, some may say he entered a rebellious phase. Without his father’s approval, Carl borrowed money from his friend to fund a trip to America, where he was convinced there would be boundless opportunities. (Spoiler: he was not wrong.) He boarded a ship on May 5, 1848, headed for New York City, where he would live and work for two years.
In 1850, Carl’s family began pressuring him to return home, but he had plans of his own. He decided he wanted to see the southern United States and landed in New Orleans, where he heard were opportunities to work at a mill. Instead of traveling back to Germany, he went West, and on January 6, 1851, he arrived in San Antonio. He wrote his dad a letter stating, “Texas is a place you can make money.” Striking a deal with a local businessman, Carl built his first mill in Fredericksburg, TX.
By 1858 Carl had experienced success in Fredericksburg. He settled down, married, and had four children, but after new millers migrated to the same area, he decided to sell his mill to his father-in-law and purchase a new site in San Antonio.
In 1868 Carl constructed a second mill that would produce and trademark 12 new flour brands, including one of our favs, “Texas Pioneer.” As the demand for Carl’s product grew, his children became more involved with the business and in 1902, Carl Guenther’s youngest son, Erhard Guenther, became president of Pioneer Flour Mills, which would become known as C. H. Guenther & Son.
Over the next few decades, the business continued to grow, and in 1914 the company replaced its wood-frame mill with a six-story concrete and steel building. The increased capacity was necessary to supply the new military bases in San Antonio constructed during and after World War I. Additional facilities included the twenty-story crenelated grain elevator tower built-in 1922 that currently dominates the setting at the complex, the 7-story mill built-in 1924, and the storage tanks, built-in 1929.
Even during and after the Great Depression, the company continued to prosper, largely because they began to produce convenience and pre-mixed foods such as breakfast cereal and biscuit mixes. In the 1970s, the Pioneer mill began selling in the foodservice market, and currently, C.H. Guenther & Son has 24 manufacturing facilities in the US, Canada and Europe.
They have milled their own flour for the last 170 years, creating a consistent, quality product which is why it has become such an integral ingredient in cherished recipes passed down from generation to generation. Today, Pioneer continues to be a leading name in mixes and a staple in Southern pantries. Whether you are baking biscuits, preparing flavorful gravies, or using one of their quick and easy seasoning mixes, Pioneer is the go-to name for creating delicious, wholesome meals.
Much like our founder, Ross Lewis, Carl H. Guenther was a true entrepreneur and his story is one of admirable perseverance. Food Town is proud to be partners with Pioneer and carry their products throughout our stores. As fellow Texans and being a family-owned and operated company ourselves, we understand the value of hard work and the dedication it takes to build not just a company but a family. We are both committed to quality, solid values, and our roots.
With Pioneer, enjoying a traditional homestyle meal is easy. Stop by Food Town for Pioneer products at low prices.
Start with Pioneer and bring family and friends together to share unforgettable moments.
Pioneer’s Tried and True Biscuit Recipe
3 cups Pioneer Original Baking Mix
1 cup milk
HEAT oven to 450F.
MIX ingredients well.
TURN onto a floured surface;
SHAPE into ball.
KNEAD 3 to 4 times.
ROLL 1/2-inch thick.
CUT with 2-inch cutter without twisting.
PLACE together on lightly oiled baking sheet.
BAKE 11 to 13 minutes.
BRUSH with melted butter.
MAKES 18 biscuits
See more great Pioneer Recipes here
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