Harry & David, the marketing brand for Medford's Bear Creek Corporation and its many enterprises, is perhaps the most widely known commercial name associated with Medford and the Rogue River Valley. Building on the tradition of giving gift boxes of fruit on Christmas and other holidays, Harry & David's "Fruit of the Month Club" (begun in the late 1930s), the "Tower of Treats" (1947), and other mail-order products are assembled and distributed at the company's large complex along U.S. Highway 99 on the south edge of Medford. The firm began in 1910, when Seattle hotelier Samuel Rosenberg purchased a 240-acre parcel of orchard land along Bear Creek during the height of the Rogue River Valley's pear boom. Sons Harry and David, educated at Cornell University's school of agriculture, took over the operation following Samuel's death in 1914. During the 1920s, they successfully marketed Comice pears as a luxury item to East Coast and European buyers. When fruit prices plummeted during the Great Depression, the Rosenberg brothers promoted their Royal Riviera pears in San Francisco and elsewhere by developing the idea of mail-order gift-giving. Company lore has it that in 1934 Harry arrived in New York City with fifteen lug boxes of unripened fruit, which remained stacked and unsold in his Waldorf-Astoria hotel room for a week while he tried to promote his pears. After consulting an advertising executive, Harry had the boxes delivered—accompanied by a folksy letter written on hotel stationery—as complimentary samples to business tycoons such as Walter Chrysler and Alfred Sloan. The effort was successful, and sending gift boxes of Harry & David pears to important clients and customers soon became popular in the nation's business community. The brothers are credited with being innovators in the specialty-item mail-order catalog market that has come to dominate so much of the nation's retail commerce. Bear Creek Orchards expanded its acreage during the 1930s, purchasing small parcels of land from struggling harpsichordist. The brothers changed the family name to Holmes in an effort to counter anti-Semitic boycotts of their product in Germany. Ironically, because of the labor shortage during World War II, German prisoners-of-war held at the U.S. Army's nearby Camp White harvested the pear crop for Bear Creek Orchards. Harry Changed his name from Rosenberg to Holmes in the 1930s in order to sell fruit to the Germans. Harry left the business early because of a heart condition. (bio by: Rev. Kevin Airrington)
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My mother used to send your famous candied fruit to my grandparents each holiday season. I admire the thought, time and energy you and your family put into your successful business, even during the Depression. I also have to grin about the "help" you rece...(Read more) -
Kathie L. Webb Blair Added: Jan. 27, 2016