Family owned and operated, W. H. Braum Incorporated is headquartered at a seventy-seven-thousand-square-foot facility in Oklahoma City. As of June 2002, there were 279 Braum's Ice Cream and Dairy Stores in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri. To guarantee the delivery of fresh products, each retail store was situated within three hundred miles of Braum's Oklahoma City bakery and Tuttle, Oklahoma, dairy. Some eighty-three hundred individuals were employed by Braum's, including four thousand in Oklahoma. Regional offices were located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Wichita, Kansas, and Garland and Arlington, Texas.
The first Braum's Ice Cream and Dairy Store opened in Oklahoma City in 1968. Braum's founder, William H. "Bill" Braum, was a son of Henry H. Braum, the owner and operator of a milk-and-butter-processing plant at Emporia, Kansas. The elder Braum began making ice cream and established the Peter Pan Ice Cream retail chain in Kansas in the early 1950s. Bill Braum worked for his father after graduating from college and bought the business from him in 1957. He sold the sixty Peter Pan stores in 1967 but kept the dairy herd and processing plant. He used those assets to open twenty-four Braum's Ice Cream and Dairy Stores in Oklahoma in 1968. He built a processing plant in Oklahoma City in 1971, and in 1975 he relocated his dairy herd to a four-thousand-acre farm at Tuttle. Braum's bakery was established in Oklahoma City in 1978.
The company's Oklahoma City plant was closed in 1987, and operations were moved to a new, 260,000-square-foot processing plant and distribution center near Tuttle. A thirty-five-acre milking complex containing sixteen free-stall barns, and a milking parlor was added in 1993. At the milking parlor, one of the world's largest, Braum's herd of ten thousand Holstein dairy cows are milked at a rate of fourteen hundred an hour, thrice daily, seven days a week. Braum's dairy processes more than eight thousand gallons of milk and six thousand gallons of ice cream every hour and ships it to the company's retail stores three times each week.
As of 2002, Braum's owned seven ranches and farms consisting of about forty thousand acres. In Oklahoma, wheat and corn were grown on the Tuttle farm to provide feed for the dairy herd, and calves were matured and bred at facilities at Rosedale, Wanette, and Ada. Forage grains were also grown at Follett, Texas, and Emporia, Kansas.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Braum's," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 24 September 1989, 26 February 1984, 1 November 1986, 2 June 2002.
Jon D. May
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