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Old Chester, PA: Ranger Joe Breakfast Cereal

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Ranger Joe logo compliments of Clay Haskell, thingey@inetworld.net, grandson of company founder, Charles Haskell.

Company History | Employees | | Recollections About the Company | More Ranger Joe Images

About Range Joe Himself | The Ranger Joe TV Show

Charles Haskell, Co-Founder; Photo courtesy of Chris Gibson, Philadelphia

Charles Haskell, Co-Founder
Photo courtesy of Chris Gibson, Philadelphia

"When I knew him, he was much older than this, but he probably looked a lot like this when he founded the company. He traveled extensively and was also a fine musician. This was probably taken on one of his trips."

- Chris Gibson, Philadelphia

September 2006 Update

"My grandfather, Jim Rex invented the cereal 'Ranger Joe'. That was in 1939. He apparently sold the company to Moe Berger/Charles Haskell? a few years later. I am sure that his decision was based on the fact that his son (my dad) was captured on Wake Island in Dec 1941, and the cereal he invented inspired in part by his son, Jim, had lost some of its allure for him.

My dad was MIA for almost four years in Japan and China, but fortunately for me (I was born three years after his release), returned home safely.

Just wanted to clear up who invented the first sugar coated cereal, my grandfather Jim Rex. He had only a sixth grade education, but was extremely smart and went on to found Plastic Center (an early plastics distribution firm) on Cherry St. in Philadelphia as well as a children's village "Christmas City" in Egg Harbor, NJ.  He also packaged small parcels of coal sold during the Depression so that those who were too poor to buy a whole load could afford a bit of coal for heating and cooking. A smart man, a nice man; he deserve the credit for inventing Ranger Joes. We still have a Ranger Joe mug!!"

- Joanie Rex Connor

January 2001:

"I was randomly searching the web for anything about Ranger Joe cereal that I could find, and I found your site.  The company was founded, in part, by my grandfather, Charles Haskell.  I do not know all the details, but I do know that Ranger Joe was bought out by Nabisco, not Post or Kellogs."

- Clay Haskell, AZ

July 2003:

"Let me add some information to what my cousin Clay Haskell has provided you with.

"My uncle was Charles Haskell who was the co-founder of Ranger Joe cereal. His business partner at Ranger Joe was Moe Berger, and the company was started in 1939. Ranger Joe "Popped Wheat Honnies" was probably the first pre-sweetened cereal ever. There was also a "Rice Honnies."

"The company was sold to Nabisco and the cereal was eventually renamed Wheat Honey's in 1954. They dropped the Ranger Joe logo and replaced him with Buffalo Bee. My uncle became a Plant Manager at Nabisco until he retired. As a kid, I remember seeing Ranger Joe mugs, cereal bowls and even Ranger Joe stationary at his home. My uncle was a great guy. Everybody loved him. He would be happy to see that people still remember Ranger Joe after all these years."

- Chris Gibson, Philadelphia

Employees: Click here for our listing of known employees of Ranger Joe Cereal in Chester.

Edna (Mrs. Russ) Robinson

About the Company: September 20, 2006:

"I wonder if anyone else remembers a TV commercial for Ranger Joe Cereal. It had a singing jingle about "wonderful honey flavor" and "If you want to have fun at breakfast time". It was aired mostly on cowboy shows for kids."

Thanks to
Paul Lotsof

May 29, 2006:

"Ranger Joe cereal was located in the West End near St. Hedwig’s, on 4th Street. However, it was located on 12th and Chestnut Streets prior to that, approximately 1939 or 1940. I lived on the same block on Chestnut Street, and could smell that ‘honey wheat’ all day long."

Thanks to
JOHN SLEMKO, 5/29/2006

July 23 2003:

"Today on the History Channel I was watching the history of cereal, when they discussed the start of Ranger Joe cereal. It was the first cereal that had sugar added. One day when I was practicing Basketball I was called out and asked If I would do a pose for Ranger Joe Cereal commercial which I did. I posed with the basketball in a typical set shot of the time, it appeared in the now defunct Brooklyn Journal American. At the time was going to St. Francis Xavier grammar school, in Brooklyn N.Y.  About 10 or 15 years later I saw the same ad reproduced in another paper, unfortunately I did not keep it. "I eat Ranger Joe Cereal because it is good for me" or something like that. The time frame was just after the big war about 1948. I'm now a retired N.Y.C Detective living in Florida, visiting my children on L.I. N.Y. Would be interested in knowing if those old commercials are still around."

Edward J. Flynn 
P.S. I was compensated for the commercial and it appeared for many years.

"My brother William (Bill) Locke worked at Ranger Joe's for many years. This was somewhere between 1954 until sometime after it was sold to Nabisco. His job was "cooker". He explained the whole process to me today (12/02/2001) from the unloading the raw components to the shipping of the finished product.  As a student at Chester High, (1949 - 1952) I would cut class to go down to Ranger Joe's to work at unloading sugar from the boxcars. I was always in need of money to either pay off vehicle violation tickets or make payments on my old "heaps". Sure was nice reading about the company."

- Jim Locke, Sonoita, AZ, jimlocke@theriver.com

"I am 63 years old and remember the wonderful smells when the production was underway. I remember the product was HONEY coated (not sugar) during my lifetime. I have run into several decendants of local BEE keepers who sold their production to Ranger Joe & were severly impacted by the plant closure."

- Reece Thomas, TPinballnut@aol.com

From Paul Crowther:

"Way back in the 40s somewhere around 4th & Wilson there was a company that made breakfast cereal.  Whenever they were using a certain process there was most delicious smell that wafted through the entire West end of the City.   They made a product named RANGER JOE.  The company was bought out by one of the large cereal makers.[Post or Kellogs]  This cereal was the forerunner to Sugar Crisp.  Maybe another Chester first!"

From Jack Chambers, Jokerjak908@yahoo.com:

"The company, with the sugar coated cereal, using the slogan "Shot from guns" was located on the west side of the 2600 block of Fourth st. This would be the block South of Wilson St. The factory was across the street from St. Hedwigs Church. Part of the property ran along Hayes St. I believe there was a railroad spur that ran from the old Pa Railroad, (now Septa) into the back of the plant.  The front of the site was remodeled and I believe is still in use by another business.

"I do not know what the "Shot from guns" slogan really meant, but I can recall periodically a loud noise would come from the plant. Maybe it was the "GUNS" going off."

August 2001 update:
Here's the story on "Shot From Guns"
Thanks to Caliban Tiresias Darklock, caliban@darklock.com

"The 'shot from guns' slogan refers to the normal method of making puffed wheat kernels: a metal cylinder is rapidly injected with hot compressed air, causing the wheat kernels to expand, and then opened to release the puffed kernels. A similar process is performed with other grains. When the cylinder is opened, it creates a loud noise; the cylinders are generally referred to as guns, since this works very much like a shotgun shell and the process is most efficient when performed with long and slender tubes that resemble large rifle barrels."

Ranger Joe Images

Ranger Joe Ad; John Reisinger, September 1949; Clipping courtesy of John Reisinger, January 2007"When I was 7 years old my parents took me to a photo studio in Baltimore. The result was this ad for Ranger Joe which appeared in the Baltimore Sun. I'm not sure how effective the ad was because the photo makes me look like I'd eat just about anything. I didn't write the ad copy, but I did eat Ranger Joe. Ranger Joe disappeared from the shelves not long after, and I always thought the ad was the reason. From your website I now know about the name change and I feel better. I am now a writer, and would like to work Ranger Joe into my next book. Since my next book is a non fiction look at a famous forensics expert and the development of the modern crime lab, however, that might be a problem. Still, it's good to know the memory of Ranger Joe lives on. My website is www.johnreisinger.com"

John Reisinger

John Reisinger

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Ranger Joe mug photos below courtesy of Jack Mindy, jackmndy@frontiernet.net

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If you have any information and or pictures that you would like to contribute about this company, please forward it to john@oldchesterpa.com

© 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007 John A. Bullock III.

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This page last updated 01/18/07