C.A. Seward

1884 - 1939

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Dye Chile was a Wichita institution, part of every native’s childhood memories. For over 40 years the international chile and spice company had its home base in Wichita, Kansas.


After moving to Kansas, W.A. Dyeʼs first venture was to open a small general grocery store located at Washington and Douglas Streets. At this store he began making his chile mixture.  This mixture became so successful that by 1924 he built the shop and factory at 121 Moseley.  From that point on he sold only spices, meat cuts and his special chile.  W.A. Dye wanted to keep his business small  and he never had more than 7 or 8 employees. Perhaps more importantly, W.A. Dye never wanted to do a canned product.  Thus eventually the Wichita based Continental Can Company moved to Denver, made a deal with another chile maker and began canning Ellis Chilli which was thus much more readily available and as a consequence larger national recognition.  Wichitans and many others always knew that a big national name did not mean better chile.


The packaging or trademark was never changed after Seward designed it for W.A. Dye in about 1909.  The Seward S logo appears on most pieces typically in the lower right hand corner. Even though fashion in advertising changed, the Dye Chile Boy remained the same for he was the image that quickly identified the brand.  The only advertising the company ever did was in the form of leaflets that were dropped off at Chile parlors in Wichita.


When W.A. Dye passed away his son inherited the business.  In about 1966 he sold it to his attorney son and a group of 4 investors, all high school friends.  Within 2 years, about 1967, they closed the business because OSHA had new requirements for the plant that were just cost prohibitive.

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Friday, February 21, 1908

page

Article refers to the scores of chile (sic) parlors in Wichita, with chile served in every ice- cream and peanut stand, church social and restaurant, and with her wholesale chile supply houses at Douglas and Rock Island.  “Dye’s Chile Mixture, which comes put up in packages of all sizes, is the preparation most Wichita people use.”


Below is early correspondence with health department:


State of Kansas

Board of Health

Secretaryʼs office in Topeka

Dept of Health

21 Nov 1907

W.A. Dye

Wichita, Kansas

Dear Sir:


Your letter of 19th received, replying will say that:

A label chilli mixture with name of manufacturer would meet requirements provided

there is no artificial color or preservative used in which case, there presence should be

stated upon the label.

Yours very truly

S.J. Crumbine

 

Dye Chile Company

sources for information & photographs for this page are: Seward Family collection, Bill Dye, grandson of the found of Dye’s Chile, Wichita Sedgwick County Historical Museum and WSU Library Archives