Biography of W. Orrin Backus
San Francisco, CA Biographies





W. ORRIN BACKUS
In that group of progressive men who have advanced the industrial interests of San Francisco is W. Orrin Backus, who is the president of the Zed Corporation, manufacturers of a health giving biscuit which is marketed over the whole world under the name of Zed.

Mr. Backus was born in Cleveland, Ohio, May 19, 1882, and is a son of William H. and Ida J. (Cronin) Backus. The Backus family was very conspicuous in the development of southern California. The grandfather of the immediate subject of this biography was prominent in banking in early California. William H. Backus was one of the founders of the California Fruit Growers' Association, the first meetings of which were held at his home. He was an educator of high repute, and did much work for the records of the Smithsonian Institution. The family first settled in Riverside, California, in 1883. Mr. Backus owned considerable property in Los Angeles, and also orange groves in outlying sections.

W. Orrin Backus completed his public school work in the southern part of California, and then studied at Yale University and at the United States Military Academy in West Point. Following his period of educational training, he engaged in numerous bridge building and railroad projects as a structural engineer. Moreover, he became identified with agricultural interests, and he reclaimed and farmed fourteen thousand acres of land on the lower Columbia river. He engaged in exporting also, having been manager of the New York office of Baron Rothschild of Paris, France. His research work, in addition, led into the development of certain high explosives and high power motor fuel. In 1922, Mr. Backus became president of the Zed Corporation of San Francisco, which, as noted, is engaged in the manufacture of a health giving biscuit which is sold over the entire world. Zed is a highly meritorious product of the baker's art, being as described "a delicious, wholesome and nutritious biscuit-regulative and digestive-a hygenic food without drugs." Zed is made of cracked whole wheat, Graham flour, oatmeal, rye and bran with coconut oil and buttermilk, which ingredients are combined with the juices of apples, grapes, plums and other ripe California fruits. The mineral elements are imparted by special processes in the manufacture. The biscuits, tasty and attractive, have the natural mineral elements such as calcium, potassium, phosporous, and iron, which are necessary to the human life. The growth of the business has been laid on the foundation of merit of product and not on extensive advertising, and recently it was the only similar food article accepted by the American Medical Association.

Mr. Backus served during the war period of 1917 and 1918 as a major in the United States Engineers. He now belongs to the Masonic fraternity; to the United States Chamber of Commerce; the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce; the San Francisco Down Town Association; and the Order of the Eastern Star. In his religious belief, he is a Protestant, and in political affairs he has given his support to the republican party, although he is inclined to give his vote for the man he considers best fitted for office. Chess has always been one of his favorite recreations.

Mr. Backus, with natural scientific training, has applied the principles of thoroughness and care to his business, and has been a constant student of the modern methods of manufacture, which he has found necessary when competing in a world market. He enjoys the confidence of every individual and corporation that has conducted business negotiations with him, and he has engendered his excellent spirit into the personnel of his manufactory.

From:
The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931


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