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Archives for the ‘Bigelow Family Story’ Category

Bigelow Tea Celebrates National Family Week

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Family is everything at Bigelow Tea and for over 70 years, three generations have been dedicated to producing the most beautiful cup of tea, a tradition that started in 1945 in Ruth Campbell Bigelow’s kitchen in New York City.  Family tradition is something we know about so during this week of Thanksgiving (and well, every day of every week!), let’s together celebrate National Family Week.

bigelow-tea-constant-commentLet’s be honest, as much as we love a day filled with turkey, football, parades and cozy weather, don’t our actual favorite moments come down to the conversations, hugs, and laughs while sharing a cup of tea during this holiday time? If you agree, why not sit back with a slice of pie and a cup of tea (“Constant Comment®” always goes well with a conversation), and cherish those moments and this special time you can spend with family.   And when we say family, we also mean our community of tea lovers. Together, we not only appreciate sharing a cup, but we all have a love (and true passion) for tea, right? This is truly #TeaProudly (link here to teaproudly blog entry) so this National Family Week, we’re sending warm wishes out to our extended Bigelow Family—our amazing employees, our fantastic growers and vendors and of course to each and every tea drinker everywhere! Cheers to a wonderful week!

Bigelow Tea Joins The Conversation About Female Entrepreneurs in America

Bigelow Tea is beyond proud of third-generation president and CEO Cindi Bigelow, who was interviewed as part of a three-part series on Travels & Traditions, called “It’s a Good Thing: Women Entrepreneurs in America,” hosted by Burt Wolf and Linda McMahon. The program will begin airing across 290 PBS affiliate stations this month and more than 100 million viewers are expected to watch it.

In her interview segment, Cindi speaks about Bigelow Tea—its history and her experience at the helm of the company. Founded in 1945 by Ruth Campbell Bigelow, Bigelow Tea is dedicated to being a premier packer of truly fine quality teas. In fact, Bigelow Tea is recognized as America’s #1 Specialty Tea company. Here are a few of the tea-related tidbits Cindi shared:

  • Initially, Ruth had owned an interior design company called Ruth Campbell Design, and was very successful. But when the Great Depression hit, both Ruth and her husband lost their jobs. It was then when she decided to make tea.
  • In 1945, inspired by an Early Colonial recipe, Ruth disappeared into her New York brownstone kitchen to create a better cup of tea. After weeks of trial and error, blending black tea with orange rind and sweet spices, she emerged with the first cup of specialty tea, which would become known as “Constant Comment®”.
  • During the early years, it was challenging to sell “Constant Comment” until, one day, a shopkeeper who had success selling the tea shared with her that he had been opening up a container to allow his consumers to enjoy the tea’s amazing aroma. “One whiff and they were sold!” she said. Ruth immediately started including an “extra” little jar of “Constant Comment” in each case, labeled “Open and Whiff.” Shops across the country placed this whiffing jar by their cash registers. Soon after, the tea was sold in Bergdorf’s, Bloomingdale’s and grocery stores.
  • To ensure Bigelow’s fresh, pristine flavor each and every time you brew, our tea bags are individually wrapped in foil pouches to shield delicate tea leaves from air, moisture and surrounding aromas, locking in flavor and freshness. This approach began after David Bigelow began working with a Japanese company who created overlap packaging. Today, 1.7 billion bags of Bigelow Tea are packaged in foil overwrap.
  • To this day, “Constant Comment” is a secret recipe that only Cindi’s parents, Bigelow Tea Co-Chairmen Eunice and David Bigelow, know and blend.

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On a daily basis, Cindi attempts to bring the spirit of her grandmother, Ruth, into every decision she makes for the company. In a country where only 5 percent of companies have female CEOs, Bigelow Tea has thrived—against all odds—to be not only the #1 specialty tea company in the USA, but a source of “constant comment” in the conversation about women entrepreneurs.

Bigelow Tea: Three Generations of Family Memories

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Over 70 years ago Bigelow Tea humbly began in Ruth Campbell Bigelow’s kitchen in New York. Bigelow Tea has been a family affair since day one and continues today under the leadership of Ruth’s granddaughter, president & CEO Cindi Bigelow. Three generations of Bigelows have worked to build their family legacy and passion for tea and here are a few stories to prove it:

  • Bigelow would not be America’s #1 Specialty Tea Company today if not for the hard work Ruth, her husband David Sr., and son David Jr. put into the early days of the company. Each night David Sr. and David Jr. would sit in their Manhattan home and hand paint the two ladies on the original packaging to give it a special touch!
  • The holidays are always time for celebration at Bigelow Tea. David and Eunice Bigelow, Bigelow Tea Co-Chairs, fondly remember their two daughters Cindi and Lori helping to hand out Christmas gifts to the Bigelow Tea employees when they were young girls.  David and Eunice still have the girl’s matching black vests and red skirts!
  • While Cindi and Lori Bigelow were young, Eunice Bigelow stayed at home but still conducted all of the tea tastings from her kitchen. Cindi remembers coming home from school to dozens of cups in the kitchen filled with the day’s varieties to taste. It’s no wonder Cindi grew up dreaming about working at Bigelow Tea one day!
  • Nothing could keep Cindi from planning and hosting the first ever Bigelow Tea Community Challenge twenty five years ago. This was the only race that Cindi has ever run in and a day she will never forget. Bigelow Tea has donated almost a million dollars to charity since the inaugural race in 1988.

These memories are important building blocks in the Bigelow Tea company history. For over 70 years the family has been passionate about tea and continues to be personally involved in every aspect of running the company, quality and care we can taste in every cup of Bigelow tea!

Eunice and David Bigelow Recognized With Lifetime Achievement Award

bigelow familyBack in 1945, when Bigelow Tea first started, Ruth Campbell Bigelow could only afford a single-color label for her tea. Each night, her son, David, Jr., would help his father hand paint the two women on the original label. Then, in the morning, they would put the tea into the family station wagon and sell it store by store. David, Jr. has surely come a long way since painting labels. Today, he and his wife, Eunice, are co-chairmen of the company and were recently recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Specialty Food Association at its Summer Fancy Food Show on June 27 in New York City.

While Bigelow Tea attributes its beginnings to Ruth and the flagship tea “Constant Comment®”, it was her son, David, and his wife, Eunice, who paved the way for the growth of the U.S. specialty tea market. David, with Eunice’s unwavering support, led the company with a spirit of determination to its current prominence as the country’s #1 specialty tea company. His integrity, intelligence and kindness also helped form the brand’s personality and its success.

“All of us at Bigelow Tea could not be more proud to see this Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed on my parents,” said Cindi Bigelow, third-generation president and CEO of the company. “They are admired not only for the significant impact they have had on the specialty tea industry, but for the positive influence they have had on lives of the thousands of employees whose privilege it has been to work alongside them during Bigelow Tea Company’s more than 70 years. Their passion, creativity and guidance are without measure,” Cindi remarked.

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In addition to making Bigelow Tea the U.S. industry leader in specialty teas, Eunice and David’s more recent accomplishments include their significant 2003 additional investment in South Carolina’s 127-acre Charleston Tea Plantation. It was their dream to restore this unique site, which is America’s largest tea garden, and share this vibrant piece of Americana for all to enjoy. Today, the beautiful Charleston Tea Plantation has become the standard bearer for the long and illustrious American tea story and welcomes 70,000 visitors each year — a suitable landmark to complement the profound impact their efforts made on the consumer tea market.

So raise a cup to Eunice and David Bigelow. Without their ingenuity, vision or drive, Bigelow Tea might not be celebrating its 70th year. It’s been the labor of a lifetime, a labor truly worthy of a Lifetime Achievement Award.

A Note From Cindi Bigelow To Her Father, David Bigelow:  Thank you, Dad, For Your Many Invaluable Lessons!

bigelow tea cindi bigelow and dadAs the third generation CEO of family-owned Bigelow Tea (and daughter of parents who will be honored as pioneers by the Specialty Food Association on June 27 for the significant impact and positive influence they have had on the American specialty food industry), I was recently asked for special reflections this Father’s Day.  I wanted to share them with you.

The most important thing any father can do is give his children the assurance that whenever they turn around, he’ll be there – providing, protecting, advising, loving … all the things fathers are meant to do. And that is exactly what my father did for my sister and me. ​

He raised me to have same sense of fairness as my moral compass in all aspects of my life.  He also taught me to be successful without being successful at someone else’s expense. ​For my father, the highest calling is to be a good, decent human being. He lives by that in business and with his family.

Over the years, David Bigelow continues to be an inspiration as Chairman of the Board, a father and a husband.

Everyone should be as fortunate as I am, because one of life’s greatest blessings is to have a father committed to doing right in a world that often confuses right and wrong. His philosophy is very simple: be honest, be fair, be concerned about others more than yourself and remember that success has many different definitions.

Thank you, Dad, for your many invaluable lessons and more importantly, the power of your example.

With my warmest Father’s Day wishes to dads everywhere,

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Bigelow Tea Proudly Supports USA Troops On Memorial Day and Every Day!

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Memorial Day is not only the official kickoff of summer, but more importantly, it is a time to remember and appreciate all of our armed servicemen and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our great country.

At Bigelow Tea we have a long standing history supporting our troops including our official sponsorship of the USO. This is a continuation of our Tea for the Troops program, which third generation president and CEO Cindi Bigelow says is “our way of saying thank you to the men and women fighting for our country.” Since the program started in 2009, almost 4 million bags of Bigelow tea have been sent to bases in Korea, Iraq, Germany and Afghanistan.bigelow tea memorial day

Cindi and Bigelow Tea Project Manager Tim Richmond (pictured), an Iraq war veteran, cycle alongside service men and women in Warrior Week’s Ride 2 Recovery Memorial which Bigelow became a sponsor of in 2015. Cindi and Tim will do the same this year along with a total of ten Bigelow Tea employees.  Additionally, the welcome reception at Military Village is presented by Bigelow Tea.  Later in June Bigelow Tea will sponsor, with founder Jason Redman, The Combat Wounded Coalition which will be holding their 7th Jumping for a Purpose skydiving event for combat wounded warriors in conjunction with the USO’s Patriotic Festival at the Virginia Beach Ocean front June 3rd – 5th. Warrior jumpers will skydive onto the ocean front between 1st and 4th street all 3 days. This event empowers wounded warriors to overcome fear through skydiving, which helps them realize they can overcome the other challenges and obstacles they may face in life as a wounded warrior

“At Bigelow Tea, whose company mission it is to enrich life’s everyday moments by infusing passion into all we do, we are grateful to our service men and women, to Jeff Hill and the USO for allowing us to be even a small piece of everything they do to improve the lives of our beautiful troops,” said Cindi.

Happy Memorial Day to everyone!

A Glance Through The History — And Family — Behind Bigelow Tea

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For 70 years and three generationsBigelow Tea has been committed to being a premier producer of truly fine quality teas. In 1945 — in the kitchen of a New York City brownstone — Ruth Campbell Bigelow created her first cup of “Constant Comment”® tea. Just as it was then, it is now: Family is everything for the Bigelows, which is why the company embraces the celebration of National Family Month each May. So, sit back with a cup of your favorite Bigelow flavor and take a ride through the history of Bigelow Tea and the family behind it all.

Which Bigelow Tea flavor started it all and how?

Inspired by an early Colonial recipe and dissatisfied with the commodity tea that was commonplace in the 1940s, Ruth focused her creative energies on formulating a better cup of tea. After weeks of trial and error, blending black tea with orange rind and sweet spices, she emerged with the first cup of specialty tea in the country. Ruth shared her tea with friends and received many comments — in fact, “constant comments.” Her new brew got its name, and the Bigelow Tea Company was born.

As a family-owned and operated company, who runs Bigelow Tea today?

For many years, Ruth and her husband, David E. Bigelow, Sr., operated the company. Their son, David — along with his wife, Eunice, and their two daughters, Lori and Cindi — carried on expanding Ruth’s idea with many new flavors in tea, herbal teas, green teas and iced teas. Today, Eunice and David are co-chairmen of Bigelow Tea, and Cindi serves as president and CEO.

What’s a memorable Bigelow family moment? 

In 1955, Bigelow Tea moved from New York to Connecticut.  Soon afterwards, back-to-back hurricanes hit! Connecticut rivers, including the Norwalk River, where the new factory resided, rose up over 35 feet, moving over 50 miles an hour. When Ruth and David Bigelow reached the factory, they found that the building was flooded and all of their tea had washed down the river. Now that was a “Connecticut Tea Party,” indeed!

Although devastated, they were determined not to give up their dream. According to the family, Ruth turned to an employee and asked, “How long ’til we can get back in business?” Thankfully — due to the tenacity and tremendous efforts made by the family — Bigelow Tea was up and running again within a few months.

This year, for National Family Month, take some time to celebrate your own family, perhaps with some stories best enjoyed with a mug of Bigelow Tea — because no matter what time it is (as @Ovis_Obscura so eloquently puts it), when you’re with family, it’s “Time for Constant Comment.”

Bigelow Tea Shares Favorite Family Stories On Ruth Campbell Bigelow’s Birthday

 

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Today, Bigelow Tea celebrates the 120th anniversary of the birth of founder Ruth Campbell Bigelow, and also celebrates her remarkable achievements as a visionary American entrepreneur.  Although Ruth passed away in 1966, the little company she started in her kitchen in 1945 continues to thrive in its third generation of family ownership. “Constant Comment“®, the company’s first tea variety, remains a best seller, even as offerings have expanded to include more than 130 tea flavors. Wow!

The entire Bigelow Tea extended family, which celebrated the company’s 70th anniversary in 2015, is proud to honor Ruth’s legacy by producing the highest-quality teasserving the community and operating as good environmental and corporate citizens. Here are a few favorite Bigelow family stories that exemplify Ruth’s signature can-do spirit:

  • Inspired by a Colonial recipe, Ruth experimented in her kitchen until she emerged with a blend of black tea, orange rind and sweet spices that she was convinced would be a winner. Indeed, it was the source of “constant comment”among her friends, and Bigelow Tea was born.
  • Ruth had an “aha” moment in those tough early days when a shop keeper said that he had opened a container of “Constant Comment”®to allow customers to smell the tea’s wonderful aroma. “One whiff and they’re sold!” he said. So Ruth made sure that every case of tea came with an extra whiffing jar that retailers could keep next to the cash register.
  • Soon after the company moved from New York to Connecticut in 1955, Bigelow Tea almost met a watery end when back-to-back hurricanes flooded the new building. But once again, Ruth and David rallied and rebuilt!bigelow tea constant comment

Stories like these are wonderful reminders of how far Bigelow Tea has come and the traditions that keep it going. Ruth would love knowing that a contemporary of hers, Gladys Hooper, wished for cake and a cup of tea when she recently celebrated her 113th birthday. Tea is truly timeless!

How The World Looked In 1945 When Bigelow Tea Began

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In 1945, World War II ended, the Yalta Agreement was signed and Bigelow Tea was born! As Bigelow has been celebrating 70 years as America’s family tea blenders, it’s an opportune moment to reflect on the company’s auspicious beginning and the many historical milestones ushered in during the same year. Here’s a snapshot of events and statistics from 1945, when Ruth Campbell Bigelow adapted a Colonial recipe to create “Constant Comment®”:

  • The first German war crimes trial began in Nuremburg.
  • Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam’s independence from France.
  • The average American salary was $2,400.
  • The cost of a gallon of gas was 15 cents.
  • Ruth and her husband, David Bigelow, were making a living blending and packaging seasonings that they sold in New York City. They wanted to expand their product offerings, and Ruth’s hunch that the American market was ready for a more flavorful tea than the bland brew available at the time proved correct.bigelow tea ruth bigelow
  • A July 1945 article in the New York Herald Tribunereported the following about “Constant Comment,”®according to a recent account in Connecticut Explored magazine:  “One of
    Mrs. Bigelow’s Park Avenue friends was giving an afternoon party, and it was suggested she try the new blend. Not a word was said to the guest regarding its novelty, yet everyone spoke of the tea’s aroma, its flavor—there was ‘constant comment.’ A good name, why not? Labels were made and the tea was hurried to the stores where it is selling at around 75 cents for the two-and-one-quarter ounce jar. Expensive? But here’s a tea so flavorful that three-quarters of a teaspoon make six bracing cups of aromatic spiciness.”

Today, “Constant Comment”® remains one of Bigelow Tea’s best-loved flavors in a line that has expanded to include more than 120 varieties. Just ask Instagrammer @Scot30, who says “Constant Comment”® is his all-time favorite tea. Enjoy the aroma, taste and nostalgia in every cup of Bigelow Tea!

 

Merry Christmas From Bigelow Tea

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Best wishes for a Christmas that’s merry, warm and bright, from the Bigelow family to yours!