Episode 178: Marjorie Merriweather Post, Part One

Posted 11 June 2021 by

Marjorie, circa 1942

Marjorie Merriweather Post was not just a society hostess (although she was that, magnificently) she was also a woman raised in a business world who was excluded from the front lines of that business because, “that’s just not done, Young Lady.” But, when she gained power over her own life and her own (massive) fortune, she created change in both the world and in the packaged food industry. She did it all with such style and flair, we decided to let her have two episodes.

In Part One, we cover the life of Marjorie through her childhood as the only child of CW and Ella Merriweather Post (of the Battle Creek Posts, darling) up until her second marriage to a man who, when he spoke, people listened.

From the early 70s:

From the late 70s:

From the 80s:

You get the idea.

Marjorie came from very middle-class roots, although when her father created a coffee substitute (with an ad campaign of wild health claims) and the first pre-packaged cereal (with the same marketing strategy) the family coffers began to fill…

…then spill over…

…I think we’re gonna need a bigger coffer.

Marjorie with CW when she was just a wee tot! See how close they are? (That’s a distance joke.) (Probably not a good one.) public domain

 

Mama Ella Wikicommons

The heiress to the Post Postum Company attended finishing school at the Mount Vernon Seminary in Washington, DC, and, upon graduation, Marjorie married Edward Bennett Close, of the Greenwich Closes, my dear. Upon the death of her father, Marjorie inherited his wealth and started to use it. But, after having two daughters, Edward’s WWI deployment, and Marjorie’s blossoming independence, the couple divorced.

Marjorie soon found love again with Edward Francis Hutton–that’s E.F. Hutton and…

Marjorie and E.F. lived large…as in a massive sailboat yacht, a camp lake compound in the Adirondacks, an expansive hunting lodge estate on Long Island, and a cottage mansion in Palm Beach.

When the Palm Beach “cottage” wasn’t big enough to throw the kind of parties Marjorie wanted, she began to build her dream oasis on the island: a place with a view of both the ocean and Lake Worth where she could see from land to sea.

Mar-a-Lago.

And, while on that massive yacht, a meal of a previously frozen goose from a local grocer inspired Marjorie to see a path to realizing her father’s dream for the Postum Company expansion in the prepackaged food market. After meeting with the man who had created the local, small, frozen food business, all she had to do was convince her husband who she had made the Chairman of the Board of the Postum Company.

That scientist grocer: Clarence Birdseye.

EF was not convinced.

And that’s where we must leave you in this episode. It’s 1923 and a Marjorie has a whole lot of living left in her!