The Old Peer Foods Building
The following is an excerpt from the Peer Foods website describing the company’s history and products.
As the Civil War came to a close, a phenomenon took place in Chicago. During the war, Chicago had grown tremendously, and as a result, too many animals were brought to the city’s private stockyards. It became extremely difficult to deal with these countless private yards. To address this issue, the leading railroads and livestock dealers developed the Union Stockyards. It was believed that one centralized stockyard would be more cost efficient for all parties involved in the meat packing industry. The stockyards officially opened on Christmas day, 1865. The area consisted of 500 pens housed on 60 acres. By 1868, the stockyards had grown to approximately 2,300 pens housed on 100 acres.
With the emergence of the Union Stockyards came one family’s quest to provide high quality meats to the general public. Our heritage begins with Christian Buehler Sr.’s immigration from Stuttgart, Germany, in 1849. He first settled in Philadelphia and then moved to Chicago. A meat-cutter by trade, Christian entered the meat-packing industry in the 1860s. Using his meat-cutting expertise and innovative spirit, Christian Sr. started his own pork-packing and general butchering operation in Peoria, IL. He became renowned in the meat-packing trade for his method of preserving meats, using a unique refrigeration system. Christian Sr. shared his knowledge of his chosen craft with his children.
Inheriting their father’s tenacity and talent, three of Christian Sr.’s children formed the Buehler Brothers Meat Markets in Chicago, circa 1894. The brothers chose Chicago in order to have easier access to the Union Stockyards. This enabled Buehler Brothers to offer the freshest and choicest cuts of meat. The Buehler Markets grew exponentially and by 1915, there were numerous Buehler Markets throughout the Central and Midwestern states.
Buehler Brothers eventually opened its own packing facility in 1925 near the booming Union Stockyards. The plant’s primary purpose was to provide a variety of premium meats for the Buehler Markets. In 1944, the plant’s name was changed from Buehler Brothers to Peer Food Products. This was done in order to distinguish itself from the meat markets. This change enabled the manufacturing facility to sell products wholesale. Throughout the years, Peer Foods has offered a variety of products, including Spanish olives, pie dough, and salad dressings. These items have since been removed from the product mix in order for Peer to focus on its area of expertise – smoked and roasted meats.