To view a specific timeframe, click on the timeline below.

  • 1948

    Paul and Alma Schwan and their 19-year-old son, Marvin, start Schwan's Dairy in Marshall, Minnesota.

  • 1952

    On Tuesday, March 18, 1952, a 23-year-old Marvin Schwan makes a delivery that would change his life and the lives of countless others. He packed his 1946 Dodge panel van with dry ice and 14 gallons of ice cream and headed north out of Marshall, Minnesota, to sell his family's premium ice cream. At the end of the day, all 14 gallons were sold and the home delivery business was born.

  • 1953

    Marvin buys his first refrigerated vehicle, a three-quarter-ton Ford. An artist friend, Milford Paxton, painted the truck a creamy yellow (later trademarked as Inca Gold®) and added a logo. At this time, Marvin was selling about 120 gallons of ice cream per day. Marvin also hires his company's first "career" route salesman.

  • 1956

    Marvin began his plans for expansion. The first permanent distribution depot outside of Marshall, a
    16-by-24-foot freezer warehouse located in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, was built, allowing for additional routes.

  • 1957

    Melting snow and spring rains caused the Redwood River to rise to record levels, flooding many homes and businesses, including Schwan's Dairy. Schwan's Employees pitched in to clean up the five inches of silt that had settled on the floors of the dairy.

  • 1957

    Route trucks began carrying Schwan's first non-dairy product a juice concentrate with the brand name Vita-Sun®.

  • 1962

    Marvin added fish to offerings off of the truck. By this time, the company was expanding rapidly, operating in eight states by 1963. After 10 years of business, the company had grown to more than $4.5 million in revenues and 83 trucks were on the road.

  • 1964

    The company is incorporated as Schwan's Sales Enterprises, Inc., and Marvin's older brother, Alfred, joins the company. Marvin's younger brother, Robert, had also been working for the company since 1948.

  • 1966

    The company begins manufacturing ice-cream drumsticks and sandwiches. It also ventures into frozen pizza when a Wisconsin salesman begins selling frozen pizza from route trucks.

  • 1969

    After acquiring Todd's Foods, the company begins producing sandwiches for its food-delivery routes.

  • 1970

    The company runs an ad in the Wall Street Journal with a simple headline: "Wanted: Frozen Pizza Manufacturer." The ad leads to the purchase of the company's pizza plant in Salina, Kansas, and the Tony's® pizza brand.

  • 1970

    The company installs its first computer, a National Cash Register Series 100, in a mobile home that is placed on the roof of the Ice Cream Plant in Marshall, Minnesota. The huge computer had 16 kilobytes of memory, approximately the size of an e-mail with no attachments.

  • 1974

    On February 23, 1974, fire destroys the company's ice cream plant, corporate headquarters and distribution center in Marshall, Minnesota. After briefly entertaining the idea of moving corporate headquarters to South Dakota, Marvin makes the decision to rebuild in Marshall.

  • 1974

    With gas prices reaching unprecedented levels, the company begins converting its route trucks to run on propane fuel. Today, more than 70 percent of the company's estimated 4,500 delivery vehicles run on propane.

  • 1975

    The company creates its Food Service Division (now Schwan's Food Service, Inc.) and provides its frozen pizza and other products to schools and other venues in the food-service industry.

  • 1976

    Red Baron® pizza is introduced by the company's Consumer Brands division. The quality of the new product caught on quick with consumers and grew to become the company's best-selling pizza brand. The home-delivery business introduces corn dogs and the Ranchero™ sandwich.

  • 1979

    To help market Red Baron® pizza throughout the United States, the Red Baron® Pizza Squadron is formed. The squadron of WWII-era biplanes would serve the brand for 28 years. During that time it had become the longest-serving civilian aerobatic team in the United States and would carry more than 80,000 passengers.

  • 1983

    The company launches its newest innovation a 5-inch single-serve deep-dish pizza that is first launched under the Little Charlies® brand.

  • 1986

    The company acquires Sabatasso Foods, a frozen pizza producer, and the Minh Food Corporation, an Asian-style foods producer. As a part of the Sabatasso Foods acquisition, the company began operating its pizza plant in Florence, Kentucky, where it would later begin producing Freschetta® pizza.

  • 1993

    On May 9, 1993, Marvin Schwan, the company's founder, died at the age of 64 as the result of a heart attack. Schwan employees were stunned at the news. With one great idea and a lot of hard work and dedication, Marvin helped turn his tiny rural business into a multibillion-dollar company. Newspapers throughout the country carried Marvin's obituary because it was important news to business leaders throughout the world. Some reporters labeled him "The Emperor of Ice Cream."

  • 1993

    After Marvin's passing, his older brother, Alfred, was named as the company's president. Alfred had served as the company's head of manufacturing since he joined the company in 1964 and was intimately involved in all aspects of the business. Alfred led the company with his strong, enthusiastic presence, guiding the business through hard and uncertain times. When asked how to be successful at Schwan, Alfred quoted Marvin: "Work hard, help one another, grow in every way, be enthusiastic and have integrity in everything that you do." That statement became the basis for the company's current core values of growth, hard work, helping one another, enthusiasm and integrity.

  • 1996

    The company introduces Freschetta® pizza in frozen-pizza aisles throughout the United States. To entice pizza lovers to buy its new pizza, the company built an advertising campaign around "Etta," a spunky sample lady who asked the simple question: "Tried Freschetta yet?"

  • 1998

    The USA CUP® soccer tournament was started in 1985 by the Sons of Norway and was originally modeled after the Norway Cup. In 1998 it was renamed the Schwan's® USA CUP® and since then the company has been the title sponsor for the largest youth soccer tournament in the Western Hemisphere.

  • 2001

    The company buys Atlanta-based Edwards Fine Foods, a manufacturer and distributor of premium desserts. The Edwards® brand has grown to become a top brand in the U.S. frozen-dessert market.

  • 2002

    The company celebrates its first 50 years of business, and Schwan's Home Service launches its first comprehensive Internet site at Schwans.com.

  • 2003

    The company officially changes its name from Schwan's Sales Enterprises to The Schwan Food Company and its major business units become their own corporations. Today, the three product sales and distribution channels of the company include Schwan's Home Service, Inc., Schwan's Consumer Brands, Inc. and Schwan's Food Service, Inc.

  • 2003

    To further expand its position as a leading producer and distributor of frozen desserts, the company acquires the frozen-dessert business of Mrs. Smith's Bakeries and the Mrs. Smith's® dessert brand.

  • 2005

    Schwan's Food Service, Inc. introduces Big Daddy's® pizza to the school food service market. Created to be a great-tasting alternative to pizza brought in from outside, Big Daddy's® pizza is made with more whole grains and a zesty sauce kids love.

  • 2006

    The company acquires Holiday Foods, of Hollywood, Florida. The company specializes in the production of high-end hors d'oeuvres for the food-service industry.

  • 2006

    Schwan's Home Service, Inc. launches the LiveSmart™ brand. Designed as a better-for-you alternative for consumers that want to eat healthier, LiveSmart™ products are moderate in calories, sodium and fat, contain zero grams trans fat and use minimal additives and preservatives in delicious, real foods.

  • 2007

    Robert "Bob" Schwan, the longest-serving employee in the company's history, dies from congestive heart failure at the age of 76. Bob, the younger brother of Alfred and Marvin, first started working for Schwan's Dairy in 1948. The company's internal service awards have been named in his honor.

  • 2008

    Alfred Schwan, serving as chairman of The Schwan Food Company, is inducted into the Frozen Food Hall of Fame at an American Frozen Food Institute convention. He joined his brother, Marvin, who was inducted posthumously to the Hall of Fame in 2002.

  • 2009

    Alfred Schwan, the older brother of the company's founder, retires as the company's chairman of the board. He had worked for the company for 45 years.

  • 2011

    Alfred Schwan, the last remaining Schwan brother, passes away at his home in Salina, Kansas. He was 85. Alfred was known as an adventurous and outgoing person who had a quick smile, relentless energy and a can-do attitude.

  • 2011

    In 2011, Schwan's Global Supply Chain, Inc. acquired a small Minnesota-based company that produced portable smoothies. Schwan then relaunched Fruchi® Real Fruit Smoothies to an enthusiastic response. The brand is quickly gaining a loyal following among kids and parents as well as those that want a delicious smoothie they can take anywhere.

  • 2011

    Bon Appétit® Steam-Baked Meals were launched in select test markets in the United States. These meals were created to utilize the parchment cooking method, which steams food in a parchment pouch.

  • 2013

    Dimitrios Smyrnios joined the company as its chief executive officer becoming the sixth CEO in the company's 61-year history. He followed Marvin and Alfred Schwan, Ken Noyes, M. Lenny Pippin and Greg Flack.


On Tuesday, March 18, 1952, a 23-year-old Marvin Schwan packed his beat-up 1946 Dodge panel van with 14 gallons of his family's signature ice cream and delivered it to rural families in western Minnesota. At the end of that historic trip, all 14 gallons were sold and the Schwan home-delivery business was born.

Today, The Schwan Food Company is a multibillion-dollar private company with more than 14,000 subsidiary employees worldwide. Based out of Marshall, Minnesota, the company sells fine frozen foods on its traditional delivery trucks, in grocery-store freezers and in the food-service industry.