In 1916 in Easton, PA, George Kessler founded the Genther Bologna Company and produced Easton Bologna. George’s baked beef bologna became his dominant sales item. After a brief stopover in Lebanon, George Kessler moved his business in 1928 to Lemoyne, where the George A. Kessler Provision Company produced his Easton Bologna. Retail delicatessen stands were opened at Harrisburg’s Broad Street Market and at the Carlisle Farmers’ Market.
As the business grew, George moved, in 1929, to a larger facility at Seventh and Hummel where Kessler’s sausage and frankfurter processing began. In 1940, the business was relocated to 1201 Hummel Avenue. The company’s name, then known as Kessler’s Meats and Provisions, once more changed when Kessler’s incorporated in 1945. Mr. Kessler and Emma, his hard-working wife and cohort, retired from the business, having seen all eight of their children help in the family business.
In 1976 Robert Kessler presented to Penn State University the idea of a frankfurter named for the Penn State mascot, and in 1977, Kessler’s Nittany Lion Franks became a reality. In 1986, Kessler’s sponsored its first annual Nittany Lion Franks 5K Run; the race continues to be held annually and benefits the YMCA.
The family-owned business is one of the top 200 meat processors in the United States and currently has a team of fifty employees. Kessler’s markets smoked and fresh meats, sausage products, ham, bacon, deli items, and a wide variety of food products to a customer base of retailers, distributors, and foodservice operators. In addition to Kessler’s own brands, including Primal Scream, Nittany Lion Franks, and Susquehanna Valley, the company also private labels food products for retail chains, distributors, and other meat and poultry companies.