Purina Horse Chow

Nestlé Purina PetCare

Nestlé Purina PetCare is the pet food division of Swiss based Nestlé, following a merger in December 12, 2001 between the Nestlé's Friskies PetCare Company and the American Ralston Purina Company.

Purina traces its roots back to 1894, when founder William H. Danforth began producing feed for various farm animals under the name Purina Mills. Later, in 1902, he merged with health guru and visionary Webster Edgerly, founder of Ralstonism, who was at the time producing breakfast cereals, to form the "Ralston-Purina Company".

Nestlé's takeover of Ralston Purina in the beginning of 2001

European multinational corporation Nestlé S.A. and U.S. Ralston Purina Company announced in January 2001 that they had entered into a definitive merger agreement. Under the agreement, Nestlé acquired all of the outstanding shares of Ralston Purina (NYSE: RAL) for US$ 33.50 per share in cash. The offer represented a premium of 36 percent over the closing price on Friday, January 12, 2001. The transaction had an enterprise value of US$ 10.3 billion ($ 10.0 billion equity plus $ 1.2 billion of net debt, minus $ 0.9 billion of financial investments). Both Corporations saw this major strategic transaction as the ideal way to benefit from their combined know-how, complementary strengths and international presence in the growing pet-care market. Ever since it acquired the Friskies business with Carnation in 1985, Nestlé has considered pet-care as a strategic growth area and it has repeatedly strengthened it through acquisitions (Alpo 1994, Spillers 1998, and Cargill Argentina 2000).

Current operations


The "Ralston" name was more associated with food for humans; soda crackers and a farina cereal, among other products, were marketed under this name. Ralston Purina also for many years produced the familiar line of "Chex" and Cookie Crisp cold breakfast cereals. The animal and human food businesses were seemingly only tenuously related. In 1994, the human food business was spun off to Ralcorp Holdings, operating as Ralston Foods, which then sold most of its branded products to General Mills. Ralston Foods manufactures many store brand foods that are sold in grocery outlets across the United States under the retailers' private labels. In late 2007, Ralcorp signed an agreement with Kraft Foods to acquire the Post Cereals brands, thus returning to the major branded cereal business. The acquisition was completed August 4, 2008.


The Purina name was principally associated with the animal feed business, which included feed for livestock and household pets. The predominant brand for each animal was generally referred to as "Chow"; hence there was "Purina Horse Chow", "Purina Dog Chow", "Purina Cat Chow", and even "Purina Monkey Chow," "Purina Rabbit Chow" and "Purina Pig Chow".

The animal feed business became the subject of a takeover bid by Swiss-based Nestlé, whose "Friskies" brand was the other leading brand of pet food in the U.S. This bid was eventually accepted in 2001. Several brands of pet food (e.g., "Meow Mix") had to be divested separately to meet antitrust concerns. Purina brands are now made and marketed by a division of Nestlé (Nestlé Purina PetCare) which is still headquartered in St. Louis. Purina Mills, Inc., the U.S. animal feed business that was sold by Ralston Purina Company in 1986, was purchased by Koch Industries in 1998, but a U.S. Bankruptcy Court cancelled out all equity held by Koch in order to maintain the company's viability. Purina Mills LLC is now owned by Land O'Lakes.

While primarily a pet food company, Ralston Purina also made some other pet-related products, such as Tidy Cats brand cat litter, purchased from Edward Lowe Industries in 1990. Also, Purina has honoured several Canadian animals every year since 1968 in their Animal Hall of Fame. The latest inductees included a police service dog who "rushed and subdued an armed robber."

Pet food Recall

Nestlé Purina PetCare Company announced on March 30, 2007, a precautionary measure to voluntarily withdraw its 5.3 ounce Mighty Dog brand pouch products that were produced by Menu Foods, Inc. from December 3, 2006, through March 14, 2007. This withdrawal was in response to the recall initiated earlier by Menu Foods, a contract manufacturer that does limited business with Purina as well as with other pet food manufacturers. At that time, only Mighty Dog 5.3 ounce pouch products are being withdrawn by Nestlé Purina; however, on March 31, 2007, the recall was expanded to "all sizes and varieties of its Alpo Prime Cuts in Gravy wet dog food with specific date codes."

To date, nearly 60 million containers of pet food sold under 100 different brand labels have been recalled.

Acquisitions and diversifications

In 1977, Ralston Purina acquired Missouri Arena Corporation and the St. Louis Blues National Hockey League franchise. The franchise was later sold in the 1980s. During the company's ownership of the team, they changed the name of the St. Louis Arena to the Checkerdome, reflecting the Ralston Purina logo.

Ralston Purina purchased the Eveready Battery Company in 1986, owner of the Eveready and Energizer brands. The company was spun off in 2000.

Ralston Purina purchased Continental Baking Company "aka" Wonder Bread & Hostess Cake from ITT in 1984. Ralston did spin off Continental Baking Company and then was bought out by Interstate Brands Corporation "IBC" headquarters in Kansas City, MO.


Well-known brands include:


The company was famed for its "checkerboard" trademark.

Its headquarters was called Checkerboard Square. At one point it owned an interest in the St. Louis Blues National Hockey League team; during this period the arena they then used was referred to as the "Checkerdome".

As a boy, William Danforth, one of the founders of Ralston Purina, worked in his father's store in Charleston, Missouri. Every Saturday he watched the Brown brood come to town, all clad in red and white checks. It was convenient for Mrs. Brown to make the entire family's clothes from the same bolt of checkerboard cloth.

In 1902, Danforth was looking for a distinctive dress for his products, and naturally remembered Mrs. Brown. His reasoning was sound, for the red and white checkerboard identified his products just as boldly as it had the Brown family.

The checkerboard logo then evolved into personal development concept Danforth put forth in his book I Dare You (ISBN 0-7661-2786-9) in which he used a checkerboard to explain it. Danforth proposed that four key components in life need to be in balance. In the illustration, "Physical" was on the left, "Mental" on top, "Social" on right and "Religious" on the bottom. To be healthy, you needed the four squares to stay in balance and one area was not to develop at expense of the other. The concept became intertwined with the company in 1921 when it began selling feed that was pressed in cubes called "checkers."


Housecat Housecall

Purina Cat Chow is the exclusive sponsor of Housecat Housecall on Animal Planet.


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