As both current workers in this archives are vegetarians, it is a little odd to be writing a post about “The Romance in Meat” but that is the subtitle of this nifty little 1950s history of John P. Squire and Company, a slaughterhouse and meatpacker of Boston pork and ham from 1850 to the 1950s. Until its demise it had the distinction of being the oldest meatpacker in America.
Though lovers of Mad Men might consider the 1960s the pinnacle of American advertising, “Romance in Meat” is no slacker. The cardboard cover is made to look like wood and the whole little book is full of delightful little illustrations.
The travels and travails of the pigs from their pens to the buyer’s market is lovingly described, perhaps to break the stereotype of the Chicago slaughterhouse vis-a-vis Upton Sinclair.
On arrival at the Squire packing plant the hogs are unloaded from the cars and conducted to the company’s porker hotel – which “accommodates” 12,000. Here they rest from their journey for from 24 to 48 hours, in peaceful and quiet surroundings. They are carefully tended, fed and watered.
The book also explains some of the other uses of hogs other than eating the meat…
Hair goes into the manufacture of brushes and mattresses; some hides into leather;bones to fertilizer; glands for medicinal uses, and so on through innumerable fields.
Unfortunately John P. Squire and Company is no longer in business and even their abandoned factories burned down in 1963. A company that used to spread out over 20 acres in Cambridge. But just in case this post has gotten you hungy…feast your eyes on the fresh pork goodies Squire once served.
If you are interested in learning more about John P. Squire and Company take a look at a summary of their history at Cambridgehistory.org or come to the Cambridge History Room and check out such books as The Cambridge of Eighteen Hundred and Ninety Six.