Jaxon corn meal mush a staple of the Gem City for more than 100 years
By Jennifer Patterson Lorenzetti
If you are like many Midwesterners you may enjoy a breakfast of fried corn meal mush topped with warm maple syrup. Or, maybe you prefer polenta, used as a base in many savory recipes or simply broiled with cheese and topped with marinara sauce.
Whether you prefer savory or sweet, whether you call it mush or polenta, if you’ve had this tasty, versatile product you’ve probably had Jaxon. With nearly a century of operation in Dayton this family owned and operated company is a Midwest tradition.
It all started in 1896 when Cyrus Jackson watched his wife, Theresa, preparing corn meal mush for Sunday dinner and then pouring the leftovers into pans to cool and fry for breakfasts. He thought the product was good enough to sell and he soon had a thriving local business that he ran with his three oldest sons.
By 1924 third son, Lloyd, was inspired by the manufacturing climate in Dayton and he moved his family and the mush business to the area, where he worked out of the garage outside their home. The business quickly outgrew this location and it moved nearby to the corner of Delphos and Oakridge, where it weathered the Depression selling not just mush but a variety of other products, one of which was a mango relish featuring green and red peppers (“mangoes” to many Midwesterners) and cabbage. At this time Lloyd changed the spelling of the company name to Jaxon to grab more attention.
When Lloyd’s eldest son, Dick, took over the business, he concentrated mainly on mush production, preferring to keep the business on a scale that he could run with his family. He did so until 1976 when sons Lonn and Barry took over, moving the business to its current Webster Street location in 1980. During this time the company took its current name of Dik Jaxon Products Co. Inc.
Today, fifth generation Matt Jackson runs the family business, and a visit to the factory shows the care and concern for quality that has characterized the mush production for over a century. The entire factory gleams and even the few pieces of apparatus that have been in use for decades look as clean and new as the day they were purchased.
The product is now cooked in a stainless steel kettle, packed, and cut into individual rolls called “chubs.” These chubs are quickly cooled and then moved to packaging and refrigeration.
This method of production allows for Jaxon to make a product that has no preservatives, says Matt Jackson. The product is also non-GMO, gluten-free and free of food allergens, fat and sugar, making it a healthy and economical option for meals. It is also an extremely versatile product, used to make savory piecrusts, cobblers, main dishes and, of course, breakfasts.
Jaxon is an example of the kind of business on which Dayton is built; it is a strong, family owned operation with a long tradition of serving Dayton, the Midwest and beyond.