Founder Harry Holly invented his first wooden patty forming machine in 1937.
In 1931, Holly was an out-of-work structural ironworker with a grade school diploma. He struggled to find employment during the Great Depression, which led him and his wife to open a hamburger stand under the back stairs of his grandmother’s house in Calumet City, Illinois.
When his stand first opened, Holly formed hamburger patties using the bottom rim of a dinner plate. He spent time every day racing back and forth between the back room in his grandmother’s house where he made the patties, to the front of the shop where he fried up the burgers and waited on customers. Between 1931 and 1937, Holly continued to use the dinner plate method to form his hamburger patties, which was a time-consuming endeavor.
In 1937, all that changed. Holly built a wooden squeeze press using the dinner plate rim as a form and molded the patties by pulling a lever. He tweaked the prototype many times to make it more time efficient. After gathering $1,000 in capital, Holly received his first patent for the machine in 1937. He then sold his hamburger business and started manufacturing steel versions of his patented wooden patty forming machine – and Hollymatic was born.
Over the next 35 years, Holly added 27 more patents to the original conception. By 1972, Holly had grown Hollymatic into the largest manufacturer of food portioning equipment in the world.