The year is 1924. Tucked away in a small rock home on a quiet road in a little rural Texas town called Mansfield, Mildred Dalton is busy in her kitchen making pastries and pies. Her husband, Jesse Otis Dalton, operates a one-room grocery store in Fort Worth, Texas. Each day he takes to work with him more of her pastry creations and merchandises them alongside other food items for sale. Times are tough and extra money is needed as Mildred and Jessie have 3 children to care for.
While in the kitchen, Mildred uses a lot of egg whites for pastry meringues, but hardly any of the leftover egg yolks. Until one day…when she decided to use the egg yolks and begins making homemade mayonnaise for her family and neighbors.
Before long, Mildred’s mayonnaise is a best seller in the Fort Worth grocery store and a favorite amongst family friends. In fact, it’s such a hit that neighbors begin to pay for it, and grocery store customers call in orders ahead of time to make sure the product is available.
Mildred decided to compliment the popular mayonnaise by making an equally impressive homemade sandwich spread. This item, however, requires pickle relish as a main ingredient.
As such, a relish supplier is secured, but he soon raises prices to what are considered ridiculously high levels. Jessie and Mildred are left with no other option but to plant a pickle patch in their home garden.
The ensuing harvest is so abundant that the family began packing pickles.
The Story Continues
Mildred and Jessie’s pickle harvest led to more opportunities. From Best Maid delivery trucks, they began selling single jars of pickles and condiments door-to-door to homes and small grocery stores. Jars became cases, cases became pallets, and eventually pallets became full truckloads. Today, Best Maid is the largest family owned manufacturer of shelf stable pickles in the US.
In 1940, the face of Mildred and Jessie’s young daughter, Margie, begins gracing the front of every jar of Best Maid. Legend has it that a Best Maid employee drew a caricature of the adorable child, which later evolved into the iconic Smiley face.
Tucked away on a quiet road in a small rural town of Mansfield, Texas, Mildred Dalton was busy in her kitchen making pastries & pies. Mildred realized she was using a lot of egg whites for pastry meringues, but hardly any of the leftover egg yolks, so unused egg yolks were used to make homemade mayonnaise.
Times are tough, and with three children to care for, Mildred and Jessie start looking for ways
to make extra money. Jessie Otis Dalton begins selling his wife’s homemade mayonnaise
in his Fort Worth grocery store.
With the success of Mildred’s mayonnaise in the family store, Mrs. Dalton’s Salad Dressing was born. The Daltons decided to expand their condiment production by opening a small factory on Evans Avenue in Fort Worth, Texas. From Best Maid delivery trucks, they began selling single jars of pickles and condiments door-to-door to homes and small grocery stores.
This family photo represents 3 generations of the Dalton family. Pictured at the lower left and only ten years old, is Mildred and Jessie’s son, Garland Son Dalton. Garland began helping by taking orders for pickles and condiments and making deliveries after school. It wasn’t long before he was running the entire company.
Mildred and Jessie’s grandson, Gary, was Born in Mansfield, Texas. He later joined the family business, eventually becoming Chairman of the Board. Today, Gary Dalton still serves as Chairman.
The face of Mildred and Jessie’s young daughter, Margie, began gracing the front of every jar of Best Maid. Legend has it that a Best Maid employee drew a caricature of the adorable child, which later evolved into the iconic Smiley face.
The economy was on the upswing, and people across Texas start wanting Best Maid pickles and condiments. To accommodate the greater demand, manufacturing facilities relocated to Riverside Drive. With the larger facilities, Best Maid was able to expand its distribution to grocery stores throughout Texas.
Gary Dalton, grandson of the founders, began working at Best Maid in 1955. He loaded trucks and remembers unloading boxcars of glass, salt stock, and other raw materials in bulk. He later moved to sales after working in virtually every area of the plant. (Left to Right: Jessie Otis Dalton, Gary Otis Dalton, Mildred Dalton, grandson Carl Koch, son Garland Otis Dalton)
The development of a new tank yard facility in Mansfield, Texas on wide-open land was planned to accommodate future growth.
Patricia Dalton, granddaughter of the founders, began working at Best Maid in 1960. She began in production, then at the tank yard, and eventually settled into providing the company with exemplary financial leadership as Chief Financial Officer.
A strategic company investment was made when Son Dalton facilitated the acquisition of Del-Dixi Products. Today Del-Dixi is one the strongest regional pickle labels in Texas.
Traveling salesmen promoted Del-Dixi across the great state of Texas. Del-Dixi remains a staple all over South Texas.
Older wooden tanks became relics of the past. The introduction of fiberglass pickle tanks was a quality move that the pickle industry soon adopted as standard.
Numerous expansion programs were being planned throughout the 70s. The original 1946 facilities seen in the aerial photos shown below were not enough to keep up with growing demand for Best Maid pickles.
The first major expansion was to the south (seen on the left hand side of the photo below), offering much larger production and processing space.
The next major expansion provided Best Maid with the needed warehouse space to ramp up production for years to come. Seen in this photo is the 125,000 square foot storage warehouse.