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Jell-O and Mar a Largo

by Lynne Belluscio

 

 President Trump’s resort Mar a Largo is a National Historic Landmark in Palm Beach, Florida.  It was built between 1924 and 1927 by cereal-company heiress and socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post, who at the time was married to E.F.Hutton.  The house has 58 bedrooms, 33 bathrooms, a 29-foot marble top dining table,12 fireplaces and three bomb shelters. Marion Sims Wyeth was the architect and Joseph Urban was the interior decorator. The palatial building cost $7 million ($90 million today.) Believe it not I recently was told that there is a Jell-O connection to Mar A Largo. (This is not an April Fools Day story.)

In 1925, Jell-O merged with the Postum Cereal Company for 570,000 shares of stock.  Because the stock prices varied, the estimates varied greatly. We tell visitors, it was about $66 million.  What is known is that the Jell-O stock holders - - mostly family – controlled 41.6 percent of the total outstanding shares of the merger.  And it was noted that the Postum Cereal Company’s management was not too happy with the deal.  And neither was the Jell-O Company’s management.  In fact, when the Postum management showed up in LeRoy, they were given a cold shoulder. . . .”they found that the merger had been sprung on the Jell-O organization.”  Apparently, according to the book, “General Foods” by Hans Rolfes, the ice was broken with a poker game at Mr. Gilfillan’s house.  So the question has been, who negotiated the Postum-Jell-O deal?

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