Right here in Greensboro, we've got the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory of flavoring and Mother Murphy is the Willie Wonka of our taste buds. For 65 years, Mother Murphy's Laboratories has been concocting flavors. The very beginning of the business can be traced to the early 20th century when college student Richard Stelling worked his way through college making and selling flavorings. In the 1920's, as a Greensboro physician, Dr. Richard Stelling continued to experiment with making flavors in an in-home basement laboratory. Eventually, Dr. Stelling teamed up with his patient, Jefferson Standard Life insurance agent, Kermit L. Murphy, Sr. to form a business. By 1947, they opened Southern Laboratories which, in 1955, became Mother Murphy's Laboratories, Inc. In 1965, Mother Murphy's moved into the above South Elm Street facility where they are still located and in the hands of the Murphy family (more company history here).
Mother Murphy's makes not only flavors for bakeries but also for just about anything that contains a laboratory-made flavor including: candies, drugs, sodas and tobacco products. Since the 1980's, they have been adding flavors like vanilla and chocolate to cigarettes. There are days in South Greensboro when the winds are just right and wonderful scents waft through town. We're never quite sure if they are coming from Mother's Murphy's or from Lorillard Tobacco. Vanilla is a signature flavor for Mother Murphy's; however, they are also known for some very creative flavor combinations-- 5,000 in all, 400 of which are vanilla!. On the day we were hunting for this building, we smelled it before we saw it. Watch this 2 minute video to learn more, here. It would be wonderful if every student in Guilford County could take a tour of this facility and see great science at work!