8.23.2007

Philadelphia Means Quality

If you ever wondered why they call it "Philadelphia" cream cheese,
here's an excerpt from Kraft Foods' website to learn you:

"Cream cheese originated in the United States in 1872 when a dairyman
in Chester, NY, developed a 'richer cheese than ever before,' made
from cream as well as whole milk. Then in 1880, a New York cheese
distributor, A. L. Reynolds, first began distributing cream cheese
wrapped in tin-foil wrappers, calling it Philadelphia Brand.

But why did he call it Philadelphia? The name 'Philadelphia Brand
cream cheese' was adopted by Reynolds for the product because at that
time, top-quality food products often originated in or were associated
with the city, and were often referred to as being 'Philadelphia
quality.'"

And not just food: we were the city that made Stetson hats and Baldwin
locomotives and William Cramp and Sons ships. This was a city that
had a population of over 2 million in 1950. Since then, we've bled
down to under 1.5 million and our manufacturing job loss is in the
hundreds of thousands. If you ever wondered why North Philly is
largely a wasteland, populate a neighborhood in Sim City with
warehouses and with workers walking to their shift jobs, and then
overnight take away all the jobs and see what happens.

Where did those jobs go? Geographically they went mostly nowhere:
machines made manufacturing less labor intensive by a factor of ten or
even a hundred. And not only did our economy require less labor
inputs to make stuff, but our economy began to lean more heavily on
services instead of stuff.

So to stay above water, even with a quarter less people, Philadelphia
has had to reinvent itself and be about financial services and health
care and higher education and biotech. And as business moves faster
and the competition gets more nimble, we're going to need even more
creative types pushing us all to higher and higher levels of
productivity. And maybe one day, somebody will invent the next killer
app and call it the "Philadelphia" process, because that label'll be
synonymous with innovation and quality.

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