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H.G. Hotchkiss established a successful peppermint oil company in Lyons, N.Y. His product won international awards.

Categories: History, Industry & Commerce, NYS History, People, WCNY Vignette

Peppermint oil is a popular flavoring agent in everything from candies and baked goods, to schnapps and is used as a folk-remedy for a variety of ailments. While there was a thriving industry for the oil in Europe, there was very little production in the United States until Hiram Gilbert Hotchkiss started producing it from wild peppermint found near Lyons, New York. Around 1830, he started production, selling it locally. By 1839, he had enough surplus to try his hand at selling it in New York City. He discovered upon arrival that European imports dominated the market. Unable to sell his supply, he returned home, but he sent a sample of his oil to the capitol of the essential oil industry, Hamburg, Germany. He was pleasantly surprised to find that his oil was declared the purest in the world. Multiple awards followed, and orders began flooding in. The company remained in Lyons, until 1990 when it was acquired and production was moved to Indiana. The Hotchkiss Oil Company building house the Lyons Heritage Society. You can tour the peppermint museum which is on the banks of the Erie Canal.

Video produced by WCNY.