Sig Frucht Collection MSS.0136
Sig Frucht, born in 1899 in Galveston, Texas, emerged from humble beginnings to become one of Houston’s most successful and beloved businessmen by the 1940s. Mr. Frucht was best known for his devotion to his business, Sig Frucht Produce, his family and the sports team he sponsored, The Sig Frucht Ramblers. Little is known about Mr. Frucht’s early years; however, it is clear that he maintained a close relationship throughout his life with the Boy’s Town orphanage for boys in Nebraska. He was made an Honorary Citizen of Boy’s Town and corresponded with Father Flanagan for many years.
He enlisted in the U. S. Army at the age of 19, and worked in the produce distribution warehouse where he was stationed in Australia. His army sergeant reported that Lt. Frucht usually worked 16-hour days without complaint. Shortly after his honorable discharge in 1918, he began Sig Frucht Produce, Inc. in the old Houston produce market downtown on Commerce Street. He soon earned the moniker “The Grapefruit Kid” because of his tenacity in promoting the retail purchase of Ruby Red® grapefruit grown in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley instead of imported grapefruit. He was the pioneer in promoting the Ruby Red® that we find so frequently abundant today. He steadily worked until Sig Frucht Produce became known worldwide to grocers as a supplier of quality avocados, vegetables, bananas, grapefruit and citrus, and other fruit thought to be exotic at that time such as mango and papaya. In households, Sig Frucht Produce was known for their delightful mail-order gift baskets. When the new Houston Produce Terminal was built, Sig Frucht was elected President and remained in that post for five annual terms. Sig Frucht Produce, Inc. remained in business for 50 years. During that time, Mr. Frucht started his day at 3: 00 or 4:00 a.m. He spoke of the romance and adventure of being in the produce industry. Indeed, his occupation took him to foreign countries. The most notable of these was Havana, Cuba, where Mr. Frucht developed many close business relationships and friendships. After retirement, he continued to maintain his office and mail-order catalog at the Houston Produce Terminal. He continued to foster solid relationships with local grocers, such as the Weingarten family and others close to the produce industry.
Despite heading a time-consuming business, Mr. Frucht found time to contribute to the community by sponsoring The Ramblers Club sports team. The Ramblers Club was founded by a group of young Jewish men who competed with other teams in a number of different sports. This was a very important way to occupy the time and nurture the talents of these young men during The Depression when work was difficult to find and time was abundant. All of the Ramblers went on to become respectable and productive citizens in adulthood. Other ways Mr. Frucht was an influence in the community include becoming an honorary sheriff’s deputy in service of his close friend, Sheriff Buster Kern, and serving as a Harris County Grand Juror for three terms.
Sig Frucht made and kept friends throughout his life. He had a risque and mischievous sense of humor as evidenced by the memorabilia with which he chose to decorate his scrapbooks. This was tempered by a truly caring, kind and generous humanitarian who valued his relationships and work above all else.
The collection is comprised of scrapbooks, correspondence and photographs of Mr. Frucht’s personal life, community involvement and his work in the wholesale produce industry of Houston.
Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Sig Frucht Collection must be obtained from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center or the appropriate copyright holder.
Sig Frucht Collection. Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library.
Donated by Sig Frucht, September 1, 1977.
Processed by Tammy Jordan, March 20, 2007
Detailed Description of the Collection