This Is How Kroger Changed Grocery Stores Forever

Today, you'd be hard-pressed to find a grocery store that doesn't have multiple departments. Usually, just about any supermarket you walk into has its own bakery and meat counter, and some even have specialty stations with pizza or Chinese food. However, that wasn't always the case – a little over a century ago, specialties like bakeries weren't common in grocery stores, but Kroger pioneered combining the two and completely changed the grocery store business.

According to Britannica, Kroger started out as the Great Western Tea Company in Cincinnati in 1883. By 1885, the founder, Bernard H. Kroger, had also opened four grocery stores in the area. reports that part of Kroger's success came from his desire to cut the middlemen out of his business. Kroger's company website explains that most grocery stores purchased the bread that they sold from other bakeries. But rather than following traditional business practices, Bernard Kroger saw an opportunity to streamline his grocery stores by baking the bread in-house.

How Kroger became the first to introduce multiple grocery store departments

According to the Kroger website, Bernard Kroger realized that he could provide better quality bread to customers and reduce his own operating costs if his stores baked their own bread. Kroger became the first grocer in the country to operate its own bakeries in 1901, which paved the way for today's bakery departments in grocery stores. According to, the new system was successful enough that by 1902, Bernard Kroger changed the company's name to the Kroger Grocery and Baking Company. At that point, Kroger had 40 stores and a factory in Cincinnati.

Kroger also pioneered another popular grocery store department: the meat counter. Britannica reports that in 1904, Kroger bought a meat company, which allowed the company to set up the first in-store meat departments. Kroger was the first to sell meat and groceries in one store. Before Kroger, you'd have to stop at a separate butcher to pick up your meat, so combining the two made shopping a lot easier for customers.

As the first chain to add departments to its grocery stores, Kroger completely changed the way we shop for food and continued to add even more options throughout the years. Today, Kroger stores usually include a gas station and a pharmacy, and some even sell non-food items like jewelry. Without Kroger opening up the first grocery stores with bakeries and meat counters, today's grocery runs might include a lot more stops.