Watkins Products: Still Around 142 Years Later

J.R. Watkins started selling Watkins products in 1868 by horse and buggy and now 142 years later the company is still in business.

Watkins products were first sold in 1868 as the salespeople used a horse and buggy to visit the homes on their route. The company was founded by J.R. Watkins who started the company in Plainview, Minnesota. Watkins died in 1911 forty five years after he founded the company.

Their products include home health care products like liniments and seasonings for cooking.

I can remember Watkins salespersons going door to door selling their array of products. The company thrived for many years until changes in buyer’s habits during the 40’s and the company filed for bankruptcy protection in the 1970’s and was bought by investor Irwin L. Jacobs in 1978.

Wal-Mart has sold some Watkins products in their stores along with Walgreens who have also sold the Watkins products on their shelves.

Watkins today has an internet presence as it has evolved from a horse and buggy operation to using modern computer technology to sell their products.

The prognosis for the company does not look good if they don’t price their products more reasonably. One Watkins website is selling an 11 ounce bottle of vanilla priced at $14.99. A four ounce can of black pepper is being sold for $5.99 which seems very pricey to me.

Watkins products and prices can be found at this website:



Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

2 thoughts on “Watkins Products: Still Around 142 Years Later”

  1. Like you, many people have fond memories of the Watkins salesman coming to their door and they love to tell me their stories. Since times have changed we now use modern technology, the information super highway, toll free calling, mail order and more to deliver Watkins products conveniently, right to our customer’s door. We also have independent distributors who provide service to customers their communities.

    The price of Watkins might seem high but loyal customers seem to feel the product quality is well worth it and you’ll actually enjoy better value for your money in the long run. Using the 11 oz Vanilla as an example, since it’s double strength it’s equal to 22 oz of another brand. Plus it’s on often on sale for a lower price.

    I’m also a fan of Monk and that’s how I found your blog.

    1. I have heard the same thing about Watkins products being so good that they are worth paying more to get a superior product. I can remember our next door neighbor selling Watkins products in the 1950’s.

      We discovered Monk when visiting with my daughter and her family. I had glanced at it before but never really watched an entire episode till last June. Now we record every Monk show on our DVR and we have seen very few shows twice since we are so far behind in catching up. Really enjoyed the show where Monk could tell Inspector 8 at the shirt factory was letting inferior shirts reach the stores so he goes to the factory and found out Inspector 8 had a son in prison for a crime he didn’t do so Monk went to work on the case so he could get good quality shirts since Inspector 8 was focusing on the job.

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