Omaha became a wholesale center in the late nineteenth century, as jobbers (middlemen or resellers) used the city's railroad network to sell locally- and nationally-produced products throughout the western United States.
German immigrant H. P. Lau began a retail grocery store in Lincoln in 1870 and later became a successful wholesale grocer and coffee roaster, packing and selling food products under the H. P. Lau and Company brand. In 1963 Nash-Finch of Minneapolis took over H. P. Lau and Company.
Benjamin Gallagher went into partnership with his friend, Omaha capitalist William A. Paxton in 1879. By the turn of the century, wholesaler Paxton and Gallagher was renowned throughout the West for its line of staple and fancy groceries. In its four-story building in Omaha, Paxton and Gallagher manufactured baking powder and extracts, ground spices, packaged teas from their own Japanese warehouses, and blended and roasted coffees from around the world.
Paxton and Gallagher first applied the name "Butter-Nut" to one of its coffee blends in 1913. When Gilbert and Clark Swanson purchased the firm in 1958, they renamed the business the Butter-Nut Foods Company.
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