Some of the hottest major brands around today are also relatively young: Apple debuted in 1976, Amazon was launched in 1995 and Google didn't fully hatch until 1998. While these snazzy tech entities tend to dominate top rankings lists -- wowing critics with their innovations and enhancements -- there's a lot to be said for brands that have proven their resilience and endurance by standing the test of time.
There are more than a handful of big-name companies that were founded over a century ago and are still going strong today. When they were created, there was no internet, no computer and many deadly viruses like polio and H1N1 influenza (the root of the Spanish Flu pandemic) -- no vaccine. These businesses weathered the Great Depression, World War II and more. It's safe to say they've gone through their own ups and downs over the years.
Here's a look at 10 brands that have been around for more than 100 years.
The Coca-Cola Company was founded back in 1892, several years after the beverage was invented by the pharmacist John S. Pemberton. Back then, the fizzy drink spun as a tonic for numerous health ailments contained cocaine -- which wasn't removed from the formula until 1903. Over the years, the Coca-Cola Company has grown to become a giant in the beverage industry, ushering in other popular soda brands, including Sprite, Fanta, Schweppes and Diet Coke.
2. J.C. Penney
J.C. Penney has had its ups and downs, and then more downs in recent years as in-store retail struggles to stay relevant, but 100 years ago, the brand had nothing but potential. Founded in 1902 by James Cash Penney, J.C. Penney was originally named The Golden Rule, named after the concept that one should treat others as they wish to be treated. The company had just one locale in Kemmerer, Wyoming, but grew in part because of its savvy expansion overseas and its adoption of mail-order catalogs.
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The United Parcel Service is young in comparison to the USPS, which was founded back in 1775, but UPS still weighs in at over 100 years old, having been established back in 1908 by a 19-year-old Seattleite named James E. Case and fellow teen Claude Ryan. Launched as American Messenger Company, the brand was renamed United Postal Service in 1925. UPS didn't go public until 1999.
The Boeing Company dates back to 1916, founded by timber merchant William E. Boeing as Aero Products Company. The aircraft manufacturer was renamed Boeing Airplane Company in 1917. The brand made major strides in the military, air-mail and, of course, passenger space, and for decades it looked like nothing could take Boeing down.
In the past few years, two events changed all that: first, the regulatory ban placed on Boeing's 737 Max, the company's star aircraft, following two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019. Second is the pandemic, which bulldozed the air travel industry and prompted mass layoffs at Boeing. Since the 737 Max's comeback in 2021 however, investor interest in Boeing has been resuscitated. As of the morning of June 5, 2023, Boeing stock was at $209.53.
5. L.L. Bean
L.L. Bean, the retail giant famed for its no-nonsense winter wear with a cozy twist and its hefty mail-order catalogs, launched in 1912 under the helm of Leon Leonwood Bean. Originally, the brand focused on hunting shoes but grew over the decades to include other apparel for outdoorsy types. After all this time, L.L. Bean is still privately held. As of 2018, it employed 5,200 people yearly and garnered $1.6 billion in annual sales.
Founded in 1903, Harley-Davidson is the oldest motorcycle brand in America. Harley-Davidson has as strong a brand heritage as they come and has honed an image that is practically synonymous with leather jacket-clad machismo, but the company has been struggling of late as it fails to lure younger generations. The Harley-Davidson stock price on June 5, 2023 was $32.41; its all-time high, back in November 2006, was $75.50.
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7. Kraft Foods
Founded in 1903 by James L. Kraft, Kraft Foods started as a cheese delivery service catering to the Chicago area. Soon after, James and his brother Charles Kraft patented a spoil-proof processed cheese that became a big hit with the U.S. Army during World War I. As a brand, Kraft has been moved around within various mega-corporations. In 1988, the tobacco giant Philip Morris scooped up Kraft, integrating it into its other food businesses, Nabisco and General Foods. Philip Morris eventually changed its name to Altria Group and Kraft split into two brands: one serving North America as Kraft, the other with a focus on international snacks as Mondel?"z International. In 2015, Heinz acquired Kraft.
It all started with a bowl of corn flakes back in 1894, and then the formal founding of the company, Kellogg's, in 1900. Previously known as The Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, Kellogg's took on its new and lasting name in 1922, once it expanded into making other cereals. Kellogg's has continued to innovate over the years and now owns a number of major food brands such as MorningStar and NutriGrain.
The consumer credit reporting giant Equifax was founded in 1899, under the name Retail Credit Company. The credit bureau grew to become one of the largest in the U.S. by the mid-1900s. Perhaps best known for the 2017 data breach that compromised the personal information of 147 million people, Equifax is one of those companies that, thanks to its crucial role in modern finance, can survive even the worst of scandals. Despite the public shaming and costly legal fees, Equifax's data breach didn't put the company out of business, but it did set the company back by about $1.4 billion.
One of America's favorite destinations, Target might be an expert in the latest trends, but it's a very old business. Founded under the name Goodfellow Dry Goods in 1902, Target has stood out from the big-box competition over the years by staying focused on its appeal to younger shoppers and doubling down on the fashion space with top designer collaborations.
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