The Mullen's Story
In the early 1900's fourteen year old John D. Mullen left Illinois to seek his fortune in the west. Realizing he needed a trade, he apprenticed under an Italian chef in Sioux City, Iowa earning $1.50 a week for the next year and a half.
From Iowa he moved to Minnesota, Colorado, and throughout the Midwest demonstrating his cooking skills and improving his reputation as a fine gourmet chef.
In World War I he served as a cook in Europe. While in Tours, France he discovered a small restaurant noted for it's special homemade dressing. John at once fell in love with the French dressing and began spending his off duty hours cooking for the restaurant where he obtained a good idea of the ingredients that went into the delicious salad dressing.
From this time on Mullen worked developing the salad dressing, finally arriving at a formula that he felt was beyond improvement. The public apparently agreed with his conclusion for Mullen's original French dressing recipe (now called imitation French) has not changed since it's "perfection" in 1926.
Pictured: John D. Mullen, Founder
After the war, Mullen's returned to Illinois where he owned a succession of restaurants, all of which served his own dressing. Soon patrons of Mullen's establishment began asking for a bottle of the delicious mixture so they could enjoy it at home. This led John to the next step in his career and in 1948 he opened the manufacturing and bottling plant located on Main Street in Palestine, Illinois.
Mullen ran the profitable and fast growing business until 1963 when it was purchased by new owners. The new corporation renamed J.D. Mullen Company retained John as a consultant and appointed Roy Shaner as General Manager. Together they worked on new products until the death of John Mullen a few years later. Many have attempted to duplicate J.D. Mullen's formula, but none have been able to perfect the fresh taste and natural goodness of Mullen's.
Pictured: Roy and Ann Shaner along with their son, Jeff
Looking to the Future
In 1985 Roy Shaner, his wife Ann and their son Jeff purchased J.D. Mullen Company. After Roy and Ann passed away, Jeff continued making dressings according to John Mullen’s original secret recipes. In July 2023, Jeff passed those secret recipes to a new owner, Penny Shaw of Palestine.
Penny and her husband David Shaw, also own Flying S Inc, an aerospace company just south of Palestine. While Penny grew up in Australia, David is a Palestine native and his ancestors were some of the early pioneers that settled Palestine in the early 1800s.
The next chapter of Mullen’s is about to be written, but Penny is excited to keep the Mullen’s factory in Palestine and continue making delicious dressings for salads across the nation. Stay tuned for more news soon.
Pictured: Penny Shaw, Current Owner