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Our Story

Established in 1940 in Detroit, Michigan, we are America's first pepper mill manufacturer. Our long lasting performance pepper mills are found in commercial establishments and home kitchens world-wide.

Chef Specialties is a 4th generation family-owned and operated business. Our factory and administrative headquarters are located in Smethport, Pennsylvania.

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Metal workers at heart, our story begins in 1906 with the founding of our parent company, Backus Novelty. Backus began as a manufacturer of hat and coat and umbrella locks for commercial venues. Backus invented the automatic bowling pin setter in 1916 which was later licensed to AMF in the 1920’s. Backus has manufactured a variety of precision machined products over the years including lighter components, pocket knives, money clips, golf and fly fishing tools, aerospace industry components, and of course, Chef Specialties Professional Series salt and pepper grinding mechanisms. Backus Company continues today with more than 100 years of experience in manufacturing and product innovation.

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Committed to American Craftsmanship, we manufacture and assemble our Professional Series grinding mechanisms in our Pennsylvania factory. Our Professional Series solid wood bodies are handcrafted from sustainable New England hardwood. In addition, our filled spice products are filled in the United States.

Our product line includes a full range of wood, acrylic, and stainless steel grinders in a variety of finishes and sizes in classic to contemporary designs. Many of our products are customizable with designer hand painting, laser engraving, and private label services. We also offer an assortment of seasonings and accessories.

This year, we are celebrating the 112th anniversary of Backus Company and 78th anniversary of Chef Specialties. Never changing is our commitment to high quality American Craftsmanship.

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