Five Brands That Turned 100 Years Old in 2014

One of the strange things about living with so many brands is that we don’t notice how short their tenure can actually be. Many companies that once seemed to be fixtures actually had brief lives: Saturn cars (1982-2009), Compaq computers (1982-2002), and MCI Worldcom (1995-2006), to name just three. Despite the fact that half of all new businesses fail by their forth year of operation, a fortunate few make it for the long haul—in some cases, really long. Five well-known brands became centenarians in 2014. Here's a look at how they endured. 

1

Jolly Time Pop Corn

Oilman and druggist Cloid Smith bought some Iowa farmland in 1914 and started the American Pop Corn Co. in the basement of his home in Sioux City. Jolly Time was the first branded popcorn sold in America. A century later, it's the No. 3 name in the segment—no mean feat, considering Americans eat 16 billion quarts of popcorn each year. Jolly Time is still an old-fashioned kind of business: It is now in the hands of the fourth generation of Smiths and still employs real, live people to answer popcorn questions by phone.

2

Maserati

When Americans hear a story about five Italian brothers who go into business, they're liable to think: restaurant. But in 1914, the mechanically gifted, speed-prone Maseratis started building race cars—and winning races with them. Maserati moved into the passenger business in 1947 and, despite several brushes with the ditch, the brand has enjoyed a resurgence under Fiat and now counts wealthy Chinese women among the core customers for its $100,000 cars. Devoted fans include Jay Leno, whose 1962 3500 GTi (video below) looks like it's moving even when it's parked.

3

Kelvinator

Lord Kelvin discovered absolute zero (minus 459.67 degrees fahrenheit) in Great Britain—but it took a bunch of American marketers to bring his name into the vernacular. In 1914, the Kelvinator refrigerator hit the market. In time, it produced the first two-door model, and soon it had a lock on 80 percent of the market. Since 1986, Kelvinator has been owned by Electrolux International, which uses the name on a line of heavy-duty commercial fridges. But the chilly tradition has endured, and Kelvinator still makes some of the coldest fridges in existence.

Chillin' in the suburbs: a 1950s ad for Kelvinator's two-door giant fridge

4

Stop & Shop

The grocery chain with over 275 stores in the northeast didn't take the name Stop & Shop until 1942, but the company goes all the way back to the Economy Grocery Store, which the Rabinovitz family opened in 1914. Stop & Shop billed itself as a "super food market"—an early version of today’s big-box store—that featured wide aisles and every victual you could imagination under one roof. While newcomers like Whole Foods might have big-city swagger, Stop & Shop has longevity and these days offers everything from smartphone-enabled shopping to Web-based delivery. 

5

Tastykake

This brand started out in 1914 as the Tasty Baking Co., but when the wife of founding partner Herbert Morris sampled one of the fledging company's cellophane-wrapped cakes, she exclaimed: “What a tasty cake!” And the brand took its current name. A Philadelphia fave from the early days, Tastykake moved from its North Philly digs to a LEED-certified baking complex in the Navy Yard in 2009. Now in its 100th year of operation, Tastykake bakes on a titanic scale: Its oven is half the length of a football field, and its bakers use 40,000 bushels of apples a year and bake 250,000 pies each day. Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes remain the brand's top seller.