Chelsea Milling Company's grain silos are one of Chelsea's best known landmarks; the family-owned company continues active milling and manufacture in downtown Chelsea after more than a century. "Jiffy Mix" is so much a local institution that the annual Chelsea Fair parade includes a semi truck from Chelsea milling's distribution operation, and Chelsea's fourth-grade students tour the plant as part of their state and local history lessons.
Chelsea Milling was founded in 1887 by the Holmes family; in 1930, Mabel Holmes struck on the idea of "Jiffy Mix", now their flagship (and only?) product. Jiffy Mix, a line of just-add-liquid baking products, was among the earliest of time-saving cooking products, designed to be simple enough that anyone could make up hot biscuits "in a jiffy", regardless of cooking experience. Mabel's grandson, former Indy 500 driver Howdy Holmes, is the current President of the company.
The company currently produces 18 varieties of Jiffy Mix, including mixes for cakes, muffins, brownies, pie crust, and pancakes. The company is vertically integrated to the point of manufacturing their own cardboard boxes. Despite having no advertising budget, Jiffy Mix can be found throughout the country and around the world.
A sketch of Chelsea Milling's grain silos hangs in the Smithsonian Institute as part of their American Scenes collection; the 1930s sketch is entitled "An American Cathedral".
- Cynthia Furlong Reynolds, Jiffy: A Family Tradition Mixing Business and Old-Fashioned Values, Chelsea Milling Company 2008. ISBN 0980232600
In the news
December 10, 2015. Michigan-based Jiffy Mix plans $35M expansion. Ann Arbor News. "Howdy Holmes believes he can have his cake mix and eat it too. The fourth-generation owner of Chelsea Milling Company—the maker of Jiffy Mix—is putting long-discussed plans into motion with a new $25 million mixing tower."
July 6, 2013 Big plans for 'little' Chelsea Milling Co., Detroit News, "Now, the longtime manufacturing business is growing even more, investing $35 million over the next five years to expand its facilities and tripling its production potential. The hope, said CEO Howard “Howdy” Holmes, is to better serve its increasingly important commercial clients, which include schools, hospitals, restaurants and jails."