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In 1883, George William Hoffman, an Indianapolis chemist and owner of the George William Hoffman Company, used a powder he concocted to clean rhubarb from a metal pan.  He later sold the new cleaning powder to bars in Indianapolis, and it was dubbed “Bar-Keepers’ Friend.”  Before he invented Bar-Keepers’ Friend, Hoffman had already established himself in the Indianapolis marketplace as a purveyor of metal polishes, cream cosmetic lotion, hog and poultry remedies, horse and cattle powders, and insect powders.

Hoffman died in 1909, at age 58, after a short “tubercular” illness.  At the time of his death, the George William Hoffman Company had offices not only in Indianapolis, but also in San Francisco, New York City, New Orleans, and Chicago.  In the 1950’s, the Servaas Laboratories, Inc. bought the Bar-Keepers’ Friend formula and name, and still produces the cleaner from its Indianapolis offices today.

Bar-Keepers’ Friend is not the only legacy Hoffman left behind – check out the HI article Flats Saved: Virginia Avenue, which features the Hoffman Building, located in Fountain Square.

One response to “Sunday Adverts: George William Hoffman Co. (Bar-Keepers’ Friend)”

  1. Ric Light says:

    My first encounter with “Bar Keepers Friend” was in 5th grade helping my mother Geraldine McMahon with a production of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” (1965) with Footlight Musicals. A major scene in the musical is the “big brass bed”. The set director had negotiated the resale shop “Trash to Treasures” (2805 E Tenth) to loan an old brass bed to use in the production on the condition that it would be returned fully polished. I along with a number of other volunteers were given the task of polishing, and polishing, and polishing until the brass shined like new. Not sure how many bottles of Bar Keepers Friend we went through but it was a quite a project.

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