Featured Member: Burgers’ Smokehouse
Burgers’ Smokehouse, located in California, Missouri, is a family business with long-time roots in the ham industry.
Burgers’ started as a small business in the mid-1920’s. Back then, E.M. Burger would travel to larger cities like Columbia or Jefferson City to sells the hams to lawyers, doctors and other professionals for cash. The first year, E.M. and his mother sold 6 hams. The next year they sold 12. By the 1930’s, E.M. was married, curing and selling 24 hams himself. At this time, people did not have iceboxes or refrigerators; cured ham was necessary to country life before electricity was introduced to rural America.
In 1952, E.M. Burger and his family formed a partnership processing old-fashioned country cured hams. Thus, the “Ham House” was born, a one room building overlooking the Moreau Creek three miles south of California, MO on the farm of F.A. Bueker, Burger’s father in law. Burger and his family worked overnight, and many overtime hours without pay, to cure 1,000 hams the first year. The neighbors questioned the Burger family’s ability to sell all 1,000 hams.
Harry S. Truman present trophy for the Grand Champion Ham at the 1955 Missouri State Fair to Morris Burger
E.M. proved his neighbors wrong by successfully finding markets for his quality hams. In fact, his family could not produce hams quick enough to meet their demand. By 1956, E.M was producing around 5,000 hams annually. That year, the company become became the first country cured meat company in the United States to receive Federal Inspection. The business was incorporated under the name Burgers’ Ozark Country Cured Hams, Inc.
Today, the family owned corporation is still located on the original site and comprises more than 305,545 300,000 square ft. Burgers’ produces 750,000 500,000 country hams along with bacon, sausage and a dozen other specialty meats.
In 2017, Burgers’ Smokehouse is celebrating another plant expansion that is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The Burger family announced that they will be building a 40,000 square ft. addition onto the existing plant to meet customer needs.
Burger said, “We rely heavily on our dedicated work force and are pleased to continue investing in jobs right here in Central Missouri. Our centralized location is ideal for shipping to our national customer base.”