Ethnic Heritage Museum profiles Penguin Foods
From press release
The unveiling of the Penguin Foods exhibit at the Ethnic Heritage Museum (EHM), 1129 S. Main St., was Sunday, Oct. 17. The exhibit continues through Nov. 28.
The exhibit displays memorabilia pertaining to Penguin Foods’ early beginnings.
April 14, 1918, Joseph Ciembronowicz, a European trained sausage-maker, and Veronica, an astute businesswoman, married and set out to achieve the American dream. This partnership resulted in the establishment of Penguin Foods. The last half of the 20th century they started three separate businesses: Penguin Foods, Rockford Sausage Co., and Pryor Packaging—two of which are still operating today in Rockford.
In 1980, Joseph was honored for his pioneer spirit and the huge impact he had made in the southeast side of Rockford. The recognition that was bestowed on him posthumously was the naming of the 15th Avenue Bridge to the Joseph Ciembronowicz Bridge. That was quite an honor for the whole Polish community.
One of the major segments of the business was custom-cut beef, plus whole pigs and rental of freezer lockers for the meat, since very few people had their own freezers in the early days. Their children Matthew, Edmund and Bernadette continued their legacy. Today, the third generation is continuing the tradition with custom-cut meats, deli, European specialties and full-service off-site catering.
EHM is open Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m. Admission is free, although donations are appreciated. A small fee is required for weekly tours, which may be scheduled during the week by calling (815) 962-7402.
The Polish Gallery Penguin Foods business joins the Irish gallery with their continuing display of early Rockford businesses: Camera Craft, Geraghty Business History and Fitzgerald Funeral Home.
From the Nov. 3-9, 2010 issue
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