The Frank Reese Story

Every super hero needs an origin story.

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Frank Reese with his Heritage turkeys at Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch

At Heritage Foods USA, Frank Reese is a super hero. His farming practices should be a model for anyone who cares about taste and the survival and success of true heritage breeds. We started our business because we believed in Frank, and his heritage turkeys have really sustained us. It is nearly impossible to compete with his birds.

One of our favorite things about Frank is that his history is so totally epic. We’ve been hyping it lately to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of his turkey flock, so we thought we’d share it here. This is America at its best!

In 1916, poultry farmers with the unlikely name of the Bird Brothers (their real name), won a blue ribbon at a poultry show at Madison Square Garden.

In 1944, the Meyersdale Republican of Meyersdale, Pennsylvania, wrote that the Bird Brothers “success as developers and propagators of the best strains of Giant Bronze turkeys made the name of their firm known in nearly every civilized country in the world. They exhibited fowls at Madison Square Garden for 27 consecutive years, and never without taking blue ribbons.”

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Bird Brothers ad from 1932

In 1917, the year after their first championship at the Garden, the mother of Frank’s future mentor Norman Kardosh – who Frank would meet at a poultry show in 1955, when Frank was just seven years old– received ten Bird Brother Standard Bronze turkey eggs as a wedding present, and passed them on to her son. These heritage turkeys can be directly traced to 1843 and the Boston Livestock Show.

Long gone are the days when viable bird eggs were given as wedding gifts (or when there were poultry shows in the center of New York City), but back then, in a country driven by family farms, there was nothing strange about it at all. Norman’s mom had the eggs shipped to Kansas by railcar, where Frank would eventually found his farm. These eggs would be the beginning of a flock of Bronze turkeys that by 2016 would become the only breed of turkey whose lineage could be traced back over 173 years — including the last century in Kansas.

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