Chapter 2: Kitchen Matches
At the turn of the century, the gentlemen, young and old, of Marion, Indiana were free and easy with kitchen matches in the town saloons. They came to put their feet on the brass rails, lean an elbow on the bar and drink a nickel stein of the frothy stuff. Before they left they reached out for a generous helping of kitchen matches which were a staple item on every well stocked bar. Unfortunately for the saloon keepers, those free fistfuls of matches cut deeply into profits.
Still and all, if the gentlemen of Marion had been a bit easier on the kitchen match supplies, the Northwestern Corporation would not be in its 88th year of production.
Like the other gentlemen of Marion, Emerson Bolen had his favorite places to stop for a glass of nickel beer. On one of these stops, the problem of the free loaders and the kitchen matches changed his life. Bolen stood at the bar patiently listening to a saloon keeper friend describing how the fistfuls of free matches were eating away at his profits. Why not, thought Bolen, find some way of providing free matches and yet gracefully keep the customers from stuffing their pockets?