Is this a Cover from Dr. New-Ilhan, One of the Co-Founders of La Choy?

Old Korea

Recently when I was searching on the net for Japanese Occupation of Korea covers, I found a cover that was very interesting to me. I did a search for the sender’s name and discovered that this might be a cover with that contained a letter from New-Ilhan. His original name was Ilhyeong New.

Figure 1: Front of cover

I think there is a good chance that this “New-Ilhan” is the person who co- founded La Choy in the USA, along with Wally Smith, a famous Asian food brand. The first product was canned mung bean sprouts and was originally sold in Smith’s Detroit, Michigan grocery store.

I believe most Americans would have thought this food brand had been established by a Chinese person as it is known for selling “Chinese” food products in the USA. According to Wikipedia: “A popular advertising jingle from the 1970s included the slogan “LaChoy makes Chinese food swing American“. And a Muppet was used for advertising: “Early in his career, Jim Henson created a series of television commercials from 1965-1967 featuring a Full-Bodied Muppet character called Delbert the La Choy Dragon (performed by Frank Oz and voiced by Jim Henson) which used the catchphrase “quick cooked in dragon fire” to describe the product.” The La Choy brand is still used today in the USA and owned by ConAgra.

Figure 2: Reverse of cover

Dr. New-Ilhan immigrated to the USA when he was 9 years old in 1904, and he founded LaChoy in 1922. He earned a degree from the University of Michigan, just outside of Detroit, and returned to Korea in 1926 and set up Yuhan Corporation, which I believe is still one of Korea’s largest pharmaceutical companies today. This letter from 1929 could well have gone to one of his friends/partners in Detroit, Michigan. I could not find any information on Nelson Hicks, perhaps some reader my know more about this person.

Figure 3: Examples of LaChoy products

Again, according to Wikipedia: “When he died at the age of 77, he donated all his wealth to the public foundation named the Korean Society and Education Aid Trust Fund.[1] Jae-Ra New, Il-han New’s first-born daughter, also contributed her entire fortune to a Korean public foundation named the Yuhan Foundation when she died in 1991.”

If anyone has more information to share with us at the KSS about Dr. New-Ilhan or this cover, please comment.

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