Higgins-Hyde Packing Company
Dried Fruit Packer
Higgins-Hyde Packing Company was a dried fruit packer operating in San Jose and Campbell from about 1928 to 1933. The principals were A.A. Higgins, J.S. Roberts was the secretary. Higgins-Hyde apparently only packed prunes under the "Sun-Glo" brand. Higgins-Hyde declared bankruptcy in June 1933 (case started 6/3/1933, filed in Santa Clara county 7/31/1933, book 661 pg 69). A. A. Higgins and Bea Rae Higgins sold their property near Saratoga to Higgins-Hyde on May 29, 1933 (book 683, 558) for transfer to the now-bankrupt company, and their farmland was sold on 5/29/34 (book 688 pg 317).
Higgins-Hyde's sole claim to fame was their attempt to break the "prune pool" in 1932. The prune pool was an organizes attempt to keep a floor under falling prune prices. In the previous year, packers had been selling their crops as fast as possible because of fears of lowering prices. To try to keep prices up, the pool was going to take the majority (85%) of the crop to try to regulate the flow of prunes into the market. In mid-1932, there was a concerted push by the United Prune Growers, by Sunsweet, and by local businesses to get 85% of all farmers to sign up for the pool and limit the amount of crop they would sell into the market. Higgins-Hyde was caught trying to sign up farmers against the pool, and supposedly was spreading misinformation about the pool to get sign-ups. Higgins-Hyde was unrepentant; in a July 11 1932 San Jose Evening News article (2nd page) quotes Higgins saying they ran a "prune pool" for at least the last four years. The argument wasn't heard; outcry among pool supporters was loud; see "Report Condemns Higgins-Hyde Pool", "July 28, 1932 San Jose Evening News.
Eventually, Higgins-Hyde backed down; the August 13, 1932 San Jose News announced that some of the former Higgins-Hyde contractees would be signing their prunes to the pool. Higgins-Hyde made the switch official in a letter to the San Jose News on August 23, 1932, releasing any farmers from their contracts. "All fruit under the control of Fred Lester and Otto Van Dorsten had been placed in the (United Prune Growers Pool), it having formerly been in the private pool of Higgins-Hyde. It has been explained that a satisfactory adjustment had been made and the Higgins-Hyde contract cancelled. A. A. Higgins announced several weeks ago during the State investigation of the pool that any growers who desired to be released would have their request granted."
Higgins-Hyde also turns up in legal documents when their plant on San Carlos Street needed to have a garage removed as part of the San Carlos Street viaduct construction work. A deed filed May 29, 1933 (book 652, page 286) notes they got $200 from the sale of the land for moving their garage and scales. H.H. Kooser and his wife owned the land under the plant, and had re-mortgaged it in 1927 and 1929 (3/14/27, book 475/220).
Higgins-Hyde survived for another year. They leased part of the former George E. Hyde & Company cannery for storage of prunes according to an article in the Thursday September 14, 1933 Campbell Interurban Press. The May 9, 1934 San Jose News, page 14: "Packing Firm Trustee Loses $2578 Prune Suit" "T. J. Miller, trustee of the Higgins-Hyde Packing Company, lost his $2578 action involving a contract for the purchase of 800 tons of prunes against Nathan L. and William Lester, growers, in Superior Judge William F. James' court yesterday when a jury awarded judgement in favor of the defendants."
Some Higgins-Hyde prune boxes still exist; one of their boxes in use in Vermont as ballot box
|San Jose||1929-1932||750 West San Carlos Street||address according to SP siding list and city directories.|
- Robert Couchman, The Sunsweet Story, 1967, Sunsweet Grocers