Krey Packing Plant

I have always viewed the old Krey Packing Plant from along North Florissant, and while it’s impressive from that angle, the real way to view its massive proportions is from one block to the west.

Its truncated smokestack stands on the right; the plant shows us that not all of the big players in the packing industry were in National City, across the river.

Apparently, the last chairman died recently. It seems there are still some hard feelings from his closing of the plant in 1978, according to one of the comments left on his obituary:

My father worked for Krey Packing Co. and was the last employee to lock the doors behind him. John Krey took my fathers pension at the age of 50! My father also invented a machine that John Krey stole and patented. My father never recovered from this and died a pauper at an early age. It’s un-nerving to know that John Krey has a house in Palm Beach and another in Ladue. Thanks for treating all your employees like the pigs you used to slaughter!

48 Comments Add yours

  1. Yojimbo says:

    v. Barbara Kopple, American Dream.

    1. All I know is back in the late 60s I ate natural cased braunschweiger from Krey. To this day, and I’m 68 yes old now, its the best I’ve ever had. Can’t help but wonder why they would close. Every product I remember was delicious. Some packing plant should get recipe’s from them as they could make a fortune. Many were better than anything today.

      1. Chris Naffziger says:

        I love braunschweiger, too! It’s hard to find good versions nowadays.

      2. Ted Guarino says:

        so were the Krey Jumbo Franks. In natural casings there was nothing like them. I found Deutch Kuche Franks in ALDI’s and they come close but nothing like the Krey Jumbo Franks.

  2. Erin Berghold says:

    My grandfather and his dad worked at this plant as a salesman and night watchman respectfully in the 20’s and 30’s. Is there any collection of historical items, pictures, paperwork from that time period that is publicly available?

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Erin, unfortunately, I think Krey went out of business under some bad circumstances, and that sort of thing was not saved.

    2. David rover says:

      My great grandmother owened Krey meats and Krey meats did not go out of business and you could find a way in and you would totally find a bunch of historical things

      1. Chris Naffziger says:

        David, I am always interested in hearing both sides of the story. Would you be interested in speaking with me?

      2. Dave Neudecker says:

        I just found out this weekend that my grandfather is the one who painted the name on the side of the building. I would like to repaint it now at no charge. If at all possible to find the current owner of the building.

        1. Chris Naffziger says:

          David, the current owners have a webpage; I have never attempted to contact them, but their contact information is listed at their website:
          https://www.grantiron.com/

    3. L Randall Siesser says:

      I remember Kerry lunch meat loaf’s well. I was a salesman for Armour in the early 70’s and I called on a small Beaty store in northern Missouri and I always had a Krey head cheese sandwich (it was packed in a natural gut) it was delicious

  3. Joseph E Leicht says:

    I work in the deli at WalMart and not long ago, a lady – I’m guessing in her early 50s – asked for some Krey bologna. Being in my 50s myself and growing up in St. Louis, I remember Krey meats well, and fondly. (Their jumbo hot dogs were truly jumbo and delicious.) But I told the lady Krey is no longer in business. She was very adamant that Krey is still operating and that she still buys Krey meats in her hometown in southeast Missouri. I’m wondering if that could be possible?

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      She’s not crazy, but it seems like it was probably a trademark bought by a company in Cincinnati, Ohio after the closure of Krey Packing in St. Louis. It now seems like Wal-Mart might not be able to obtain the bologna for all of its stores:
      https://www.walmart.com/ip/Krey-Bologna/780172698

      1. Walter says:

        Hey I worked for prey from 69 to 78 and it was purchased by the John agar company and moved some production to hunter meat plant in East st louis il until it closed

  4. Kay says:

    My Uncle worked for Krey back in the 50’s and 60’s, and I’m trying to see if they have stuff for sell, like my Kray Zippo Lighter. Any info anyone could give me, please.

    1. My family worked for Krey stating inthe 30s. Bert Skinner he and some of boys and girls. My mom being one of them. She met and married my dad Jim Welsh in 1948. They both retired when the closed the plant. Many of old friends worked there that are gone .to include all my family who worked there.

  5. Gunzie Chatman says:

    Do you have any pics of the krey packing facility you can email me?
    My grandpa who is 92 worked there til the day it closed. I would like to bring him some joy with pics from his past

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Hello, I don’t have a lot of pictures, but I can see what I can do! I got your LinkedIn message, as well. E-mail me at naffziger (at) gmail (dot) com is the best way to reach me.

  6. Richard says:

    Hi I am trying to see if any former Krey employees would remember a gentleman named C.V Grossor Gloss not sure of correct spelling. He worked there as a meat packer as of 1970. Any help would be appreciated. And also a former Marine.

  7. JESSE B RICE says:

    Hey Joseph Leicht, do you remember the southeast mo. town the lady said where they sold Krey meats are sold, Krey meat products will never again be closely duplicated in this life on this planet!!!

    1. Iris Holland says:

      Town and Country Supermarket in the deli Ironton,Mo and Country Mart(recently changed to Harp’s) in Park Hills,Farmington and Potosi,Mo also sell it in the deli….just bought some today 🙂

  8. Tracy says:

    Krey bologna is sold at or Walmart in southeast Missouri we live in poplar.bluff MO. It’s also available at other stores here.

  9. Larry says:

    You can get Krey Bologna at Minninos Market in Cottleville. I worked there till they closed the kill floor in 1978.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Wow, thanks, Larry! Can you share any memories of what it was like to work there?

  10. Frankie says:

    I lived in the North St. Louis area, as a teenager in the 1970’s (& later as an adult til about 1980), several blocks from Hyde Park. As a teenager, walking all over the area, I remember the bad smell, as you would get close to the plant. I lived down by Windsor Park on Angelica St. Went to Clay School. Anybody from around there, always welcome to e-mail me.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Wow, that must have been something to live around there when the packing plant was still in operation!

    2. Tom Murphy says:

      Both my wife, and I, were raised there. Me on N 21st Street, between Ferry and Penrose and my wife, on Angelica, just a few doors down from Eilermann Furniture

      1. Chris Naffziger says:

        Thanks for sharing! What was the address of Eilermann Furniture?

        1. Barry says:

          Ellerman Furniture was at the intersection of Kossuth, Angelica, and Glasgow!

          1. Chris Naffziger says:

            Ah, that intersection where five streets come together! Unfortunately just about everything is gone now.

    3. Becky Hanger says:

      I lived in North saint Louis I lived on North Park place. I went to Clay School and to Central high School
      I graduated clay school January 59

  11. William Hunt says:

    My name is Bill Hunt Jr. Worked as a foreman in city cooler (order filling dep.) until 1978 when Krey, was purchased by John Morrell. I worked for John Morrell until 1995. Retired and currently living in Estero Florida.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Thanks for checking in! Where did you work after Krey was purchased by John Morrell?

  12. William Hunt says:

    I was the production manager @ Prairie Farms Dairy from 1995 until I retired in 2013. We moved to Estero Fl. In 20 13.

  13. Becky Hanger says:

    I lived in North saint Louis I lived on North Park place. I went to Clay School and to Central high School
    I graduated clay school January 58

  14. jay draudt says:

    Does anyone remember when you could redeem Krey ham wrappers at Kresge’s? It was during the mid 1960’s. I did it because my father owned his own grocery store back then so I was able to acquire a lot of wrappers.
    I can’t remember if you received stamps to purchase items or they gave you points for purchases.

  15. Mike S says:

    To the person who wrote the negative comment on the John Krey Stephens obituary: If your father did invent a machine that was later patented by Krey when he worked for Krey, the patent would not belong to your father. Krey would have been paying him and he probably would have been doing the “inventing” on Krey property and on Krey time. Now, if he designed and built the piece of equipment in his off-hours at home, that’s a different story.

  16. Kevin says:

    Used to live catty-corner from Krey’s in the late 50’s at 3915 North Florissant when I was 5-6 years old. Walked to Irving School some 4 blocks away for Kindergarten and 1st grade. The streets were always bustling with traffic and activity. I can still remember the noises of cattle mooing and pigs oinking at the plant when I played in the front yard. And oh yes the smoke from the smokestack and the smells too. Was there also when the 1959 tornado ripped through. Moved to North County (1960) soon after that as the area was really starting to decline. Looks like a war zone today. The old house is long gone. All that’s left are the memories.

  17. Wally Knowles says:

    i JUST STUMBLED ONTO THIS SITE AND ENJOYED READING THE POSTS. i LIVED AT 3728 N. FLORISSASNT AVE. 1939,1940. SURPRISED TO SEE THAT THE OLD PLACE IS STILL THERE AND IS THE ONLY HOUSE REMAINING. i WAS 9 YEARS OLD AND ATTENDED IRVING SCHOOL. I REMEMBER THE OLD MACK CHAIN DRIVE, SOLID RUBBER TIRES TRUCKS COMING IN ALL DAY WITH LOADS OF HOGS AND CATTLE. THEY WERE PRODDED WITH ELECTRIC WANDS TO HASTEN THEIR EXIT FROM THE TRAILERS. THE HOG TRAILERS WERE 2 LEVELS AND HAD TWO EXIT LEVELS . IT WAS A BUSY PLACE. MY MOTHER WOULD SEND ME TO THE OTHER END OF THE BUILDING WHERE THEY HAD A RETAIL STORE TO PORCHASE HOT DOGS, HAMBURGER, ETC… LASTLY, I REMEMBER GOING TO THE OTHER END OF THE PLANT ON FLORISSANT SIDE, GETTING A BOOST TO LOOK THRU THE BARRED WINDOWS INTO THE CONVEYOR WITH COW CARCAS’S HANGING . I REMEMBER SEEING A LARGE PUSH CART BENEATH THE CARCAS AND A GUY OPENING UP THE BELLY AND DUMPING THE INNARDS INTO THE CART….THAT MADE ME FEEL SICK… ANYWAY, THAT IS MY RECOLLECTION OF SOME 80 YEARS AGO…HOW TIME FLIES……

  18. KEVIN P WARD says:

    My grandpa,John Arnzen,worked for krey meat packing plant in st louis mo in 30s,Then went up to Dubuque,Iowa’s Dubuque Packing Co in 1939(Walhert) family owned,In Dubuque.

  19. Joe V. says:

    Hi Chris, I just saw my great grandfather’s death certificate yesterday. He died from sepsis in January 1921 after cutting his finger slaughtering pigs at the Krey plant. I wish I could see more internal pics of that horror show. Thanks again for your great blog and photos.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Yeah, packing plants were notoriously dangerous. I wish there was more documentation on Krey, but there seems to be little.

  20. Sister Carol Ann Ptacek says:

    Did Krey use anything that may cause anyone to develop Parkinson Disease and/or seizure conditions?

  21. Shannon Burch says:

    My father passed recently and we were going thru his photos. I found a photo dated 1924 with all the employees standing in front of the packing plant. My grandpa worked there. The photo must be 3 feet long. When I get a chance I will go retrieve the photo and post it on here

    1. cnaffziger says:

      Wow, I’d love to see that! Thanks for letting us know about it.

  22. Marie Simmons says:

    My husband and I love the krey bologna but can’t find it here in Colorado would love to be able to purchase some and have it shipped to us

  23. Matt Riggins says:

    Enjoyed reading all these comments. Most of the historical recollections on here regarding the modern lineage of Krey are correct. I worked for John Morrell / Smithfield in the early 2000’s; we sold Krey, Armour, Hunter and Kretschmar products, all of which were legacy brands that (at one time) operated as independent meat packers in the Missouri / Southern Illinois area. John Morrell is owned by Smithfield, which is the umbrella company for all these brands now. While the production of these beloved items has obviously shifted to newer plants, most of which are no longer located in the STL area, many of them are still available. Krey Bologna is sold by Smithfield through a number of regional food wholesalers, and also Wal-Mart. Southeast Missouri is definitely a strong market area for this brand. Hunter has been retired, which sadly brought an end to an exciting story with the St Louis Cardinals. Most in St Louis know Kretschmar as the favored ham brand for holiday gatherings, but it is in fact a thriving deli brand with over 80 products sold coast to coast in major grocery chains and small independents alike. I believe the original packing houses in National City have caved in and ‘eroded’ to the point they are hardly noticeable. The packing plants were close to the railyards 50-75-100 years ago for obvious industrial reasons; today, the plants are much closer to the animals and the farms; i.e. rural Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, etc.

    1. cnaffziger says:

      Thanks, Matt! Oh, we know about the old packing houses in National City–there is a whole section of when I used to explored them back before they were demolished. You and other readers can see them here: https://stlouispatina.com/tag/national-stockyards/

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