Manteca had a sweet deal going when Spreckels Sugar opened its factory for what ended up being an 80-year run.
The history and economic health of Manteca and Spreckels Sugar were intertwined for decades. Although Spreckels Sugar relations with Manteca district farmers started in 1915, it wasn’t until later that year that the decision was made to purchase land in Manteca and to start factory construction in 1917.
The year Manteca incorporated as a city was the same year factory operations started.
Even with the plant’s demise 20 years ago, Spreckels economic legacy lives on as a major retail and employment center that rose from land that once processed some of the sweetest harvests around.
As you take this quiz, remember 30 years ago that you could have done so while mixing Spreckels Sugar into your coffee or sprinkling Spreckels Sugar on your breakfast cereal.
1. The first two sugar silos were built at Spreckels Sugar in:
2. Spreckels Sugar was founded by:
a) Claus Spreckels
b) John Spreckels
c) Alma Spreckels
d) Southern Pacific Railroad
3) The plant manager when Spreckels Sugar closed its Manteca operations in 1996 was:
a) Gerald Schneider
b) Al Boyden
c) Tom Osborne
d) Paul Carter
4) The first Manteca area farmer to cultivate sugar beets was:
a) G. Perry, in the New Haven area.
b) Mr. Raymus, in the Atlanta district
c) T. Machado near Summer Home
d) Mr. Rodder in the Nile Garden district.
5) What major event facilitated the decision for Spreckels Sugar to build a plant in Manteca?
a) urbanization and air pollution concerns that forced the company to close its San Francisco factory.
b) the Salinas earthquake that destroyed an existing Spreckels Sugar plant.
c) The German army destroying most of the beet sugar factories in Belgium and France at the outset of World War II.
6) What famous author worked for several weeks at the Manteca factory before giving up on a life that was a tad too hot and strenuous even for him?
a) Ernest Hemmingway
b) John Steinbeck
c) George Will
d) Thomas Wolfe
7) Spreckels Sugar imposed a strict uniform code in the 1930s and 1940s for plant workers that consisted of:
a) basic whites
b) blue denim
c) gray work clothes
d) tidy tans
8) How did the factory dispose of sugar pulp after the 1932 campaign?
a) by burying it at the site of what today is the municipal golf course.
b) burning it with the city’s trash.
c) feeding it to 2,000 head of cattle shipped by H Moffat Co. of San Francisco that were being fattened in pens on site.
9) What was an annual tradition to see atop the sugar silos?
a) a Christmas tree.
b) signs supporting the Manteca High Buffalo football team.
c) a gigantic billboard promoting the Manteca Pumpkin Fair
d) the mayor of Manteca toasting a successful harvest.
10) Spreckels Sugar closed down during World War II. Was it due to:
a) the silos being a primary target for potential Japanese bombers who may mistake them for a defense installation?
b) the shifting of farm production to cattle and food stuffs as well as a lack of labor?
c) an executive order from President Roosevelt that all non-essential factories needed to close to conserve energy?
d) the refusal of women to fill in for jobs held by men who had to go off to war?
11) Parts of the old Spreckels Sugar factory that was demolished can be found:
a) in the brick work at the entrance to the shuttered Kelley Brothers Brewing Co. & Brickyard Oven Restaurant.
b) beneath Highway 99 between Ripon and Manteca.
c) in the brick work at the entrance to Spreckels Park.
d) all of the above.
12) Spreckels Sugar crews in the 1930s used slang words such as “sugar cooks”. “Granny men” and “pup crew.” The term “pup crew” referred to:
a) Young teens hired for temporary summer work.
b) The operators of a station that bagged sugar in five and 10 pound sacks.
c) Workers assigned each day on a rotating basis to chase off dogs that wandered onto the plant site and posed problems to the sugar refining process.
d) College students working in the warehouse guiding 100 pound bags into place who complained about working like dogs.
13) Nineteen years ago, an estimated 10,000 people were drawn to Spreckels Sugar. They were there to:
a) attend a reunion party celebrating the plant’s 80 years.
b) watch the four 15-story concrete silos tumble down during an implosion.
c) protest the closing of the plant.
d) witness Evel Knivel’s son drive a motorcycle off the top of the sugar silos .
14) Spreckels Sugar was responsible for Manteca getting a nickname that many preferred it not to have. That nickname was:
a) White Powder City
b) Sugar Town
15) “Sugar Tramps” was the enduring term that Mantecans gave to:
a) those who worked many years at the factory.
b) men who rode the rails to work at the various sugar beet processing plants up and down California.
c) the two white and brown cocker spaniels that that Claus Spreckels Jr. would bring with him to Manteca when he visited the plant and the town.
d) the employee vaudeville troupe that would entertain townsfolk on Saturday nights at the LOOF Hall with impromptu skits during the height of the sugar processing campaign during the mid-1920s.
16) F.M. Bergh offered C.F. Glasenhaff a job as centrifugal foreman in 1918. The terms of his employment were:
a) $10 a day plus room and board.
b) $1 an hour.
c) 50 cents an hour plus stock options if he stayed until the end of the campaign.
d) 40 cents an hour plus 5 cents an hour bonus if he stayed until the end of the campaign.
Here are the answers to the Sweet Sixteen quiz that started on A-1:
18 to 20 correct: Better check your family tree. You probably have Spreckels Sugar running through your veins. 14-17 correct: Obviously you are well versed in Spreckels history or referenced the book “It’s Been a Rough Old Sea: The Story of Spreckels Sugar in Manteca” published in 1996. 10-13 correct: You don’t like sweet things do you? 5 to 9 correct: You probably use artificial sweetener in lieu of sugar. 0 to 4 correct: You used C&H Sugar when Spreckels Sugar was still up and running, didn’t you