Nabob Foods

Nabob Foods is a BC company!  This surprising fact was brought to our attention in a recent Culinary Historians of Canada post.  The next couple of blogs will focus on the rise, fall and rise again of Nabob.

In 1896 Nabob Foods was founded by Robert Kelly and Frank Douglas in Vancouver, BC (1).

The original logo was a Nabob (2). This word might have been chosen for its hint of wealth and riches, or it might also be a play on the first name of one of the founders, Robert Kelly, known as “Bob”.

Nabob brass coffee spoon - advertising

The brass tea or coffee spoon familiar to many people is now a collector’s item. It’s described as a “genie” (3) on the internet sites selling kitchen kitsch. It was free, along with Nabob coupons to be collected and turned in for munificent prizes.

Nabob Foods had great corporate success as a coffee company and then as a general foods distributor.  Its advertising campaigns were focused, and attention-getting, as this ad from March and April of 1916 , Vancouver Sun shows.

April 1916 Nabob offers

Cover- Time Hooured recipes of he Canada West - Nabob FoodsNabob expanded into many areas of food products.  “Time-honoured recipes of the Canadian West from Nabob Foods” was distributed in 1973.   The 64-page free recipe book included a foreword by Jean White, Director of the Home Services Department, and pioneer recipes photographed at Heritage Village, Burnaby and Surrey Museum.

‘Time-honoured recipes” was a highlight of the 1970s years.  Nabob Foods featured a wide range of products in an expanding corporate field.  What lay ahead?  These photos from the book presage the future.

nabob premium products 1973

Nabob spices display -



(2)  A Nabob was a viceregent or governor of a province of the ancient Mogul Empire in India (Webster Dictionary.

(3) Mid 17th century (denoting a guardian or protective spirit): from French génie, from Latin genius (see genius). Génie was adopted in the current sense by the 18th-century French translators of The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments, because of its resemblance in form and sense to Arabic jinnī ‘jinne  [take note, scrabble players, can also be spelled djinn / jin / jinn]