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Can you name the top 20 Fortune 500 companies in 1955?
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Fortune 500 (1955) Quiz
Created Sep 2, 2011 in
Featured Nov 20, 2011
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Nov 20th, 2011 at 15:10 GMT
I would change Exxon Mobil to just Exxon because when I got that answer I did not expect Mobil to be a separate answer and therefore did not even try it.
Nov 20th, 2011 at 15:39 GMT
Apparently in 1955 people drove cars a lot and sometimes ate.
Nov 20th, 2011 at 15:43 GMT
missed the company whose name is on the building I work in...I'm lame.
Nov 20th, 2011 at 15:48 GMT
knew Bethlehem Steel thanks to Mad Men. Agree on the Exxon Mobil/ Mobil thing. Same thing with Chevron Texaco/ Texaco.
Nov 20th, 2011 at 15:54 GMT
Not a single bank on there. How about that.
Nov 20th, 2011 at 16:01 GMT
ExxonMobil didn't exist until 1999.
Nov 20th, 2011 at 16:10 GMT
Umm, yeah, ditto on the petro companies, wth?
Nov 20th, 2011 at 16:56 GMT
I assumed you wanted what the company names were in 1955, not today. Esmark in 1955 would have been Swift's, and in any case is now owned by JBS, a Brazilian company, so Esmark wouldn't be right if you want the current company name. Exxon was Standard Oil of New Jersey (Esso as the gas retailer name) until 1972. Also, accept just Bethlehem for Bethlehem Steel.
Nov 20th, 2011 at 17:05 GMT
I doubt that I'm the only one who entered 'Microsoft', hoping for a funny bonus answer.
Nov 20th, 2011 at 17:14 GMT
@Colmar I entered Apple for that same reason :D
Nov 20th, 2011 at 17:52 GMT
I was certain that one of the food products answers would be Procter and Gamble.
Nov 20th, 2011 at 18:10 GMT
I don't really understand how so many people got Standard Oil than Amoco. When I typed in Standard Oil I got Amoco as well.
Nov 20th, 2011 at 18:14 GMT
Chevron was Standard Oil of California in 1955. It merged with Gulf to form Chevron in 1984.
Nov 20th, 2011 at 18:40 GMT
I also believe time machines reached the peak of their market by november 5, 1955.
Nov 20th, 2011 at 19:12 GMT
I'm surprised that Coca Cola isn't on the list. It seems like they were already a huge international brand by then.
Nov 20th, 2011 at 19:26 GMT
What fascinates me is that there are no restaurant companies at all on the list. I guess McDonald's, KFC, etc. all came later. Howard Johnson's was around, and was pretty much all over the country, but obviously it didn't make this list. Neither did any hotel chains or airlines: no Hilton, no Holiday Inn, no American Airlines or Pan Am. Also no railroads, no trucking companies, no Greyhound or Trailways. Not even IBM, which _was_ around.
Nov 20th, 2011 at 19:30 GMT
@Beatlezfann: I don't know. 1985 was a pretty good year too.
Nov 20th, 2011 at 19:46 GMT
@Possum: These Fortune 500 lists are very interesting for what they can tell you about the U.S. economy at any given time. In the 1950s, heavy manufacturing was the mainstay of the U.S. economy (auto manufacturers have always straddled the line between heavy manufacturing and consumer goods manufacturing; cars are generally bought by consumers, but the manufacturing techniques required to build a car are more similar to those required to build heavy machinery than, say, a microwave oven) due to the fact that the rest of the industrialized world was only about 3/4 of the way to a full recovery from the effects of WWII by that point and the U.S. economy was loaded with income to invest (and actually invested it in productive assets instead of using it for consumption or to invest in financial assets). In later years, when service, retail, and consumer goods businesses came to dominate the list, the lists are indicative of the inevitable decline in manufacturing that was bound to happen as the rest of the world fully recovered from WWII and started making better economic policy decisions (i.e., freeing their markets). They're also indicative of the weaker grip that the Great Depression held over the country in terms of people saving for a rainy day. I imagine the current economic crisis will spark a resurgence of people being interested in saving more than they have been recently and you should see services, retail, and consumer goods companies slide down the list a little bit.
Nov 20th, 2011 at 20:51 GMT
"How'd they get so rich without the internet?" Uh, on the blood, sweat, and oppression of the ancestors of most of the members here?
Nov 20th, 2011 at 21:02 GMT
The food ones were amazingly difficult. I tried 20 different food manufacturers only to get completely shut out & thus none of 3 food answers. Hard to believe Coca Cola wasn't there nor were Kellogg's or General Mills.
Nov 20th, 2011 at 21:04 GMT
Where is Ford?
Nov 20th, 2011 at 21:33 GMT
Note to myself - If all else fails, read the instructions! 1955 was clearly written!! :-)
Nov 20th, 2011 at 22:33 GMT
Regarding Goodyear: I don't recall them ever manufacturing entire motor vehicles (as in "Motor Vehicles AND parts"). I believe it should read simply "Motor Vehicle parts"--no "and" involved. Can't say I've ever heard of a "Goodyear" car or truck driving around!
Nov 20th, 2011 at 22:59 GMT
Alas, no Baltimore Opera Hat company for us Simpsons fans...
Nov 20th, 2011 at 23:15 GMT
Given how generous some of the synonyms are (e.g., "Exxon" triggering "Standard Oil of NJ"), it seems kind of ticky-tack to demand "Shell Oil" and not allow "Shell".
Nov 20th, 2011 at 23:21 GMT
I think the most surprising one was CBS. Bigger than Boeing! It's hard to imagine a broadcaster being in the top 20 today.
Nov 21st, 2011 at 01:12 GMT
anyone else thought of typing playboy??
Nov 21st, 2011 at 01:16 GMT
How was Shell an American company? That's strange.
Nov 21st, 2011 at 01:18 GMT
@Happ_Hazzard - The Fortune 500 lists only companies that are public. Ford remained a privately owned corporation until 1956.
Nov 21st, 2011 at 02:17 GMT
@shakirafan: While they didn't make cars, blimps are technically motor vehicles ;)
Nov 21st, 2011 at 03:08 GMT
Why Swift and Company instead of just Swift?
Nov 21st, 2011 at 04:48 GMT
Hmmm, I wonder how many of these Don Draper handled?
Nov 21st, 2011 at 11:58 GMT
@TylerE: Alas, I don't believe that Goodyear actually manufactured their own blimps, either!
Nov 21st, 2011 at 12:33 GMT
I agree with steel town....Swift should be acceptable. If I can get 3 different answers by typing simply "standard", then why not the one correct answer for "swift"....those of us from Chicago know Swift and Armour were fierce competitors!
Nov 21st, 2011 at 14:29 GMT
Be honest. How many got General Electric by entering the first two letters of General Motors or General Foods.
Nov 21st, 2011 at 21:41 GMT
How bout Bell for AT&T?
Nov 21st, 2011 at 23:54 GMT
Fascinating--I did okay but "knew" many of the petro companies that I could just not recall. Food = tough, yes. The automotive parts/accessories company was misleadingly labeled IMO--but probably a standard classification. With all the cars, I was wondeirng where tires were, but with the "vehicles and parts" description I started entering NAPA and MOPAR, but not a tire/rubber company. This is worth econ professors nationwide laying on their micro classes--the US economy has changed radically, much higher beta the past couple decades and it's not just tech.
Nov 22nd, 2011 at 01:37 GMT
Wasn't Amoco still officially Standard Oil of Indiana in 1955? Also, you have Lockheed Martin as one of the bonuses, but they didn't merge until the 90s. Presumably, it'd be either Lockheed or Martin Marietta (although I see that the source lists companies under their current names, so we probably won't be able to tell which one--kinda lame on their part).
Nov 23rd, 2011 at 19:32 GMT
What kind of man wears Armour Hot Dogs?!
Nov 26th, 2011 at 05:43 GMT
The 1955 list was for public corporations deriving at least half their income from mining or manufacturing. (That's why Ford isn't here.) Perhaps that could be made clearer in the introduction.
started publishing lists of the top 50 retailers, banks, insurers, utilities, railroads, etc. in the 1960's and eventually merged them into the current list. (Something similar happened to the Dow Jones Industrial Average.)
Please accept just plain old "Swift" for Swift & Co. Citgo was Cities Service in 1955. Before the 1984 breakup of AT&T, what is now AT&T Technologies was called "Western Electric", the manufacturing arm of AT&T, since AT&T itself didn't qualify under the rules. Please also accept Socony Mobil (the formal name in the 1955 list is actually Socony Vacuum) for Mobil (Socony stands for Standard Oil Company Of New York). I really doubt that Goodyear qualifies under auto parts, let alone autos; together with US Rubber (later Uniroyal), B.F. Goodrich and Firestone, it was part of Big Rubber. And I think Goodyear made more than tires (tyres) anyway.
* The six 1955 companies that would have been in the top 20 under the rules of 2004 but not under those of 1955 were:
_3. AT&T or American Telephone & Telegraph (the operating system)
_4. A&P (Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea)
_6. Sears, Roebuck
_9. Metropolitan Life Insurance
12. Prudential Insurance
13. Safeway Stores.
Under 2004 rules applied to 1955, the Texas Co. (Texaco) would have been 20th, Western Electric (AT&T's manufacturer) 21st, Shell 22nd, National Dairy Products (I guess Kraft) 23rd, Equitable Life Assurance 24th, Socal (Standard Oil of Calif) 25th, Kroger 26th, J.C. Penney 27th, Goodyear 28th and Boeing 29th. Sinclair Oil would have been 30th, International Harvester (now Navistar) 31st, and RCA 32nd.
, April 5, 2004 (Vol. 149, no. 7), "50 Years of the Fortune 500 Special Issue", page 158. The next page lists companies in the 2004 Fortune 500 that would not have quali
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