Putting Clients First

While many things in the industry have changed since 1896, David Michael & Co.'s corporate mission remains the same: to satisfy the requirements of our clients through a commitment to quality, service, innovation and technology. This direction has served us well, as we now enjoy enduring partnerships with an uncommonly large and diverse number of beverage and flavor companies all over the world.

Our History

David Michael & Co. stems from a partnership established in 1896 between Herman Hertz and David Michael. Herman operated a bar on Ohio Avenue in Atlantic City, while David was a salesman for Fleer Chewing Gum of Philadelphia (a firm renowned today for their bubblegum baseball cards). David was a native of Atlanta, Georgia, and a confirmed bachelor. His principal pastimes were fishing and motor cars. In fact, before there were income taxes, David carried large amounts of cash and enjoyed purchasing motor cars off the showroom floor.

Herman Hertz’ expertise was in distilled spirits ingredients. He originated our “Oldtime Special Body & Age”®, a few drops of which will make raw corn whiskey taste like a ten year-old bourbon in just a few hours. (Today, David Michael sells many DSP ingredients based upon this time honored formula, which is mentioned in “The Social History of Bourbon”). B&A’s popularity grew in these early years, but slowed in the 1920’s and did not revive until Prohibition was repealed in 1933. But then, B&A was adopted by several nationally branded products in which it is still used today.

[Photo: David Michael with Walter Rosskam (right)]

Vanilla sugar as a flavor for ice cream was another company specialty in the 1890’s. The ice cream industry started as an off-shoot of small confectionery stores. During the 1860’s, a Philadelphia family of German confectioners, headed by Henry Breyer, achieved a substantial following. Their small shop grew into the Breyer’s Ice Cream Company. Later, during the 1920’s and 1930’s, when the formation of giant milk and ice cream companies took place, Breyer’s was purchased by National Dairy Products Corporation. Other prominent ice cream manufacturers in Philadelphia were Abbott’s (Jane Logan), Philadelphia Dairy Products (Dolly Madison), Shearer’s, Supplee’s (later to become Sealtest), Bassett’s and Pott’s. Thus, Philadelphia became known as the ice cream capital of the United States. (Of all these companies only Pott’s and Bassett’s are still within the City. The Abbott’s label belongs to LaBatt, the Canadian food conglomerate.)

    In 1919, following their respective war service, three young men formed the R&R Chemical Company. Two of these men were brothers, Eli and Robert Rosenbaum. The third was Walter M. Rosskam, a University of Pennsylvania Chemistry major and classmate of Eli Rosenbaum. They had become friends because they sat next to each other in Chemistry class. The R&R Chemical Company dealt in such items as cigar wrappers and cigar binding fluids. Their wrappers were laced with minute explosive charges, which enabled the tobacco leaf to burn quite effectively. One day in 1920, they called on David Michael to purchase some gums for their small cigar wrapping base. Mr. Michael suggested that, with the growth in the ice cream industry, there was great opportunity for sales of a vanilla sugar he had developed, called Michael’s Mixevan®, the vanilla powder in a can. (Mixevan is a unique blend of Mexican and Bourbon vanilla beans, sugar and vanillin that, when heated, produces a sweet, slightly caramelized, richly aromatic flavor that has made Mixevan quite famous.) Since Herman Hertz had died, David asked Eli, Robert and Walter to join him as part of his management team. Eli moved to Chicago and became Sales Manager. He called on the major mid-western ice cream manufacturers, including Beatrice Creamery, Hydrox, Tellings (Ohio), Belle Vernon and Pevely’s. Robert was also in sales, covering the Northeast United States. Walter and David ran the manufacturing operation, located initially at Ridge Avenue and Green Street and then Front and Master Streets in Philadelphia.

    [photo: David Michael's former facility on Front and Master Streets in Philadelphia.] 

      In a freewheeling era of the 1920’s, the business grew. Sales reached several hundred thousand dollars and taxes were low. Michael’s Mixevan gained wide acceptance as a vanilla ice cream flavor, and it was advertised as “America’s Flavorite”. In the days before air conditioning, the powdered vanilla was ground through rotating hammer mills driven by pulleys. On a hot summer day, the temperature could go well over 110°F in the marvelously aromatic room! Each mill had to be fed by a hand scoop from a movable truck filled with caked pieces of vanilla sugar, which resulted from the vanilla being hot air dried in our shelf dryer.

      [Photo: Michael's Mixevan advertisement]

      In 1935, David Michael died and the ownership of the company passed on solely to Eli, Robert and Walter. Then came World War II and sugar was being rationed. The company refused to purchase black market sugar, so the only way we stayed in business was to toll sugar from our clients, who then surrendered their coupons to us. Thus we were able to get the sugar needed to make Mixevan.

      During World War II, vanilla beans continued to be available from Mexico and also from Madagascar (though Vichy French). By tacit consent, Madagascar still got its vanilla bean production safely to the United States during the early part of the war. Of course, vanilla from Java, then called the Netherlands Indies, was completely unavailable due to the Japanese occupation.

      Walter’s sons, William B. II and L. George Rosskam, both served overseas during World War II. Bill was a marine and took part in numerous crucial Pacific landings, and George was a radio operator with Patton’s Third Army. With the conclusion of the war, they both returned safely to the United States and joined David Michael & Co. In 1949, Robert’s son, Brigadier General Edward W. Rosenbaum USAF, started work at David Michael. With the overwhelming success of Mixevan, David Michael & Co. expanded their product line in the 1950’s to include a wide rage of vanilla extracts.

      The early 1950’s saw recurring shortages of pecans, walnuts and pistachios, which were used in the manufacturing of numerous ice creams. David Michael & Co. saw this as an opportunity to develop a natural nut extender to add to ice cream as a background flavor. Thus was born our line of “Fairway®” nut background flavors. We developed a pecan base first, since butter pecan ice cream was (and still is!) such a popular item. Maple sugar was also cyclical and presented another opportunity. So, we created a line of maple walnut products. These were found to have applications beyond ice cream, and eventually we developed a dry powder program for maple flavors that led us into breakfast cereals. (Consequently, we have developed a wide range of powdered flavors, including strawberry, chocolate and, of course, vanilla, all of which have application in a wide range of consumer products, including pharmaceuticals.)


        In the late 1950’s, we developed a significant line extension by making a variety of distilled spirits blending agents, using our Old Time Special Body & Age as a base. These were initially designed for various blends of American whiskies, and later gin, vodka, rum and brandy.

        [Photo: Robert Rosenbaum at a trade show.]

        What happened next caused our business to take a dramatic leap forward. One evening in a Chicago bar, Bill Rosskam, who assisted Eli Rosenbaum, was having a conversation about various cocktails. Bill conceived the idea of putting cocktail flavors into frozen desserts. This was the start of our line of “Creative Flavors”. The first entries included pink champagne, daiquiri and sparkling burgundy for sherbet; and grasshopper and pink squirrel for ice cream. These flavors, especially champagne, caused quite a stir in the marketplace. After their initial run, these flavors became an integral part of our product line and today are referred to as our “Adults Only®” flavors.

        The next step involved the premise that, since we were doing so much in distilled spirits with Body & Age, why not apply our ice cream “Creative Flavors” into cordials and liqueurs. Apricot, peach, amaretto and creme de menthe were developed, among others. This led us into cocoa distillates and cream de cocoa. In turn, these flavors were particularly applicable for pharmaceuticals and yogurts.

        In 1965, a worldwide shortage of vanilla beans lead to our development of Vanguard®, an all-natural, non-characterizing flavor that permits the reduction of vanilla and vanilla-vanillin extracts, sugars and powders. Vanguard was followed closely by Supreme® and Super Supreme®, vanillas that because of their more efficient extraction process, yield a stronger flavor.

        Based on the close relationship between flavor and texture, we recognized an opportunity to provide an even greater level of service to our clients. In 1968, we introduced our line of stabilizers under the name of Michtex®. Originally targeted toward the dairy industry, we now provide Michtex products for a broad range of food and beverage items.

        In the mid 1970’s, we expanded our product offerings even further with the introduction of our Michaelok® line of spray dried flavors. Next, we expanded into the production of Maillard Reaction Products to include various meat, seafood and poultry flavors. This product line, introduced in 1993, is called DM Choice®. In 1994, our Michael-Thermics® line of heat stable flavors was developed. At the 1997 IFT show, we introduced Gorilla Vanilla®, made with specially selected beans that achieve an impressively powerful flavor. As we approached the year 2000, Millennium Vanilla® was introduced and the tagline, The Official Flavor Company of the New Millennium®, was adapted.

        On March 13, 2002, Brigadier General Edward W. Rosenbaum USAF, David Michael’s Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer passed away after fifty-three years with David Michael. Edward started his career with David Michael & Co. in 1949 and was the last of the second generation of David Michael owners. He is the son of the late Robert Rosenbaum, one of the original partners of the company and the father of Stuart Rosenbaum, David Michael’s CIO and Executive Vice President of Purchasing and MIS. Edward also served with distinction in the United States Air Force for 31 years in active and ready reserve capabilities. Edward’s many years at David Michael were a tremendous contributing factor to the success of the company.

        In 2003, we introduced the Fast Track Flavor Process®, a series of proactive initiatives designed to assist our clients in successfully completing their projects faster. We also debuted MichaelCap™, our new state of the art microencapsulation technology. With over 40,000 flavor and stabilizer formulations in our library, David Michael is well positioned to assist our worldwide clientele with the experience and products for any food or beverage application.

        David Michael introduced another unique concept in 2003 when we presented our first annual Innovation Roadshow®. Originally designed as a means to introduce new and innovative ideas and products to our sales force, it has grown into an industry “must attend” event. Attracting more than 250 clients, the Innovation Roadshow is a daylong extravaganza that allows our clients to interact with our worldwide sales and technical staff, while sampling such unique products as seared tuna with a wasabi-flavored cotton candy topping. Workshops and noted guest speakers round out the day.

          Our Facilities

          In 1969, we moved from center city Philadelphia and constructed a 43,000 square foot headquarters facility in Philadelphia’s Northeast Industrial Park. Included in this building are office space, research and development laboratories, and manufacturing operations. Since then, we have added 48,500 square feet of warehouse and manufacturing space and 8,000 square feet for additional office space.

          [Photo: David Michael & Co Global Headquarters - Philadelphia, PA.]

          Our technical department, which comprises one third of our employee base, includes numerous flavor and applications laboratories. In addition, also included are laboratories for quality control, product samples, vanilla, savory flavors, analytical, sensory and a pilot plant. Our capabilities also include such techniques as nuclear magnetic resonance. We can, thereby, look into the deuterium hydrogen ratios of specific molecules of flavoring chemicals. This work is conducted in Nantes, France. Our analytical equipment includes mass spec, HPLC, GLC, and more.

            In 1973, we opened a 20,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Paramount, California. In 1994, we moved to a new 26,000 square foot facility in San Bernardino, CA, which has greatly enhanced our ability to service our clients in the Western United States.

            [Photo: David Michael & Co., San Bernardino, CA]

            For many years, we have conducted business within the worldwide marketplace. In 1992, we opened our first international operation, David Michael Europe SARL. This facility was headquartered in Paris to efficiently service the needs of our clients in the European Union. In March of 2000, we purchased Daroma S.A., a French flavor and natural color manufacturer. Located in Valence, 645 kilometers south of Paris, the expanded resources provided by Daroma’s laboratory and manufacturing facilities positioned us to significantly grow our business in the European market. While Daroma benefited from several of our core technologies, David Michael’s other worldwide facilities also benefited from the transfer of Daroma’s color technology.

            David Michael de Mexico S.A. de C.V. was formed in 1992 to service our clients in the Mexican market. Originally headquartered in Mexico City, this operation has experienced major growth in the past 14 years. In 2007, we moved into a new 30,000 square foot office, laboratory, warehouse and manufacturing facility, which was constructed in Lerma, Mexico. In addition, we have an alliance with the Food Science Department of Simon Bolivar University. Not only do we have access to their pilot plant and laboratory facilities, but we also benefit from the knowledge base provided by their graduate students.

            In 1995, David Michael officially opened facilities in China to serve the flavor and stabilizer needs of the Chinese marketplace, as well as other Pacific Rim countries. In 2006, we moved into a new office, laboratory and manufacturing facility within the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone, greatly expanding our capabilities in this region.

            Representation in a number of other countries around the world, including Thailand, Australia, Puerto Rico and Ireland, allows David Michael to truly offer a “one world service.” 

            We are proud to be a member of the IFF family.  To learn more about IFF click here.








              David Michael & Co. • 10801 Decatur Road • Philadelphia, PA 19154 • 1-800-DM-FLAVORS

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