Polish sausage, bologna, beef, bacon. . . .
The Little Falls area surely was blessed when it had the wonderful specialties of the Erdrich’s meat market!
A few of the Erdrich’s specialties were beef bacon, polish sausage, beerwurst, head cheese, blood sausage, bologna, hams, and wieners, just to name a few. It all started in Germany; the butchering business was an Erdrich family tradition.
Louis Erdrich was from Pforzheim, Germany, where he worked for his father, Ludwig, and became a master butcher. Before World War I, the Erdrich meat market in Germany used a horse and carriage to take meat from the slaughter house to the meat market. At the meat market, there was room and board for students learning the butchering trade. The meat market was bombed during World War II. Louis’ parents were killed in the bombing of the meat market. Louis had already moved to America in 1921 and lived in Elmore, Minnesota, where he set up a meat market. He was on his way to California when Louis stopped to help a friend in Little Falls and later decided to set up his own shop here. What a perfect idea, considering the Little Falls area has many people with German heritage.
The Louis Erdrich meat market was built in 1946 and opened for business in 1947. Louis was married twice. His first wife died and he later married a lady by the name of Mary Ann, who helped out with the family meat market. When Louis died in 1959, his son, Robert also known as “Red”, took over the family business and his mother took care of the bookwork. Later Robert’s wife, Mary, took care of and helped out with the bookwork, retail, and other aspects of the family meat market.
In the Erdrich family it was a tradition to learn the trade of master butcher. Robert learned the trade as an apprentice under his father, Louis, and his uncle, Otto. Both Louis and Otto were master butchers. Robert was the last in the family to run the meat market.
Meats were preserved by curing them in brine and salt, then by smoking and sometimes precooking them. They also cured and smoked meats in hard maple and hickory. The Erdrichs also cut, wrapped, processed and froze meats for customers. Homemade sausage was their biggest seller. Some of the tools used were meat saws, power saws, stuffers, slicers, and many others. The Erdrichs purchased animals from local farms until the government started federal inspection laws, then they had the animals shipped in. Their delivery truck was used for large orders and occasionally to deliver goods to customers that couldn’t make it to the store. In 1983, the Erdrichs closed the meat market to the public due to larger businesses moving into the area, the need for more family time, and to start different enterprises.
If you are curious to know, yes the Erdrichs still butcher and process, but for their private family use only.
by Alissa Hallberg
Copyright 2003, Morrison County Historical Society