Keep your wooden cutting boards and butcher block in prime condition with John Boos Mystery Oil. Applied every three to four weeks, John Boos Mystery Oil prevents wood from drying, splitting, or cracking. The Mystery Oil is safe for food preparation surfaces and can also be used to maintain wood countertops and wooden kitchen tools.
More attractive and durable than plastic alternatives, wooden cutting boards also can inhibit bacteria growth and are easier on knives. Boos cutting boards are manufactured by John Boos & Co. in Effingham, Illinois, which has been manufacturing high-quality wood cutting boards, butcher blocks, and countertops since 1887.
John Boos & Company circa 1900.
The History of John Boos & Co
In business since 1887, John Boos & Co. is the oldest industry in South Central Illinois. Founder, Conrad Boos Sr. named the business after his son, John and for years, worked out of a blacksmith shop in Effingham. The blacksmith used a Sycamore tree placed on three legs to straighten horseshoes. The wooden block absorbed the shock of the hammer. In 1890, a local butcher realized the block could be used for cutting meat, and had one made. The word spread to surrounding small towns and cities and by 1911, John Boos was shipping from coast to coast.
In 1956, John Boos began to sell some of their products for home use. Today, John Boos cutting boards are found in hotels and restaurant kitchens, culinary schools, and on televised cooking shows. The old craftsmen work ethic is still around at John Boos, with a few changes.Premium Hard Rock Maple lumber from the surrounding Mid-West and Northern States is used in place of Sycamore lumber. And John Boos automation has replaced much of the older equipment with the exception of the 1942 block press which is very much in use today.
John Boos & Co. utilizes 100% of their raw material to benefit the manufacturing processes. The smallest lumber scraps are transformed into sawdust and used to generate electricity and create steam to fuel the boilers.
The Early Years
In 1892 the Boos family sold interest in the company to the Gravenhorst family. In 1895 the building burned and was rebuilt. In 1899 they moved to the present site of 315 South First Street for more space.
In 1920, they added extra buildings and kilns.. By the 1940s, butcher blocks were found in every restaurant, food store and butcher shop in America.
Last Half of the Century
Following WWII, the company added a dry kiln, increased its office space, and added manufacturing space. The shipping docks were enlarged while warehousing space and new products were added.
The company continued expanding through the 60s and '70s with the growth of its metal table market with synthetic tops, stainless-steel tops, or maple tops. Even though the government was tough on wood products through the 1970s and '80s, the company continued to grow with its new line of BDL store fixtures, park benches, and other butcher block furniture.
Current Products & Markets
The wood and metal products are listed with the National Sanitation Foundation, the leader in sanitation agencies for approving equipment to be installed in foodservice and supermarket operations. The products must have approval of various sanitation agencies in order to be accepted by the industry.
John Boos & Co. Cucina butcher blocks and cutting boards are used by celebrity chefs throughout the USA, including Charlie Trotter, Ming Tsai, Paul Kahan, Susan Spicer, Mary Sue Milliken, and Susan Feninger. In addition, chef’s featured on "The Food Network", such as Mario Batali and Emeril Lagasse, prepare meals every day on John Boos cutting boards. In 1994, we were we were 1 of 22 companies awarded the Gold Medal for Excellence in Foodservice Equipment by the Chefs of America at a ceremony conducted at Carnegie Hall in NYC.
John Boos & Company Today
The company currently occupies approximately 150,000 square feet in Effingham, IL and approximately 65,000 square feet in Philipsburg, PA and Suring, WI. The company’s four dry kilns dry up to 210,000 board feet of lumber on a continual basis. Most of the hardwoods used for manufacturing are shipped from the Great Lakes, while the stainless steel comes from warehouses and distribution centers in Chicago, Indianapolis, and St. Louis.
Care and Maintenance
Keeping Your Board Sanitized
Wash your John Boos cutting board with hot soapy water after each use and dry it with a clean towel or let it air dry. For further sanitation, the board can be rinsed with a vinegar or chlorine bleach solution. (1 teaspoon bleach to one quart of water/5-to-1 ratio of vinegar to water) Do not soak the board in water--this will damage the wood. Wood cutting boards are NOT dishwasher-safe.
Maintaining Your Board
Oil your cutting board on all surfaces every 3-4 weeks. The Boos block cream finish with beeswax (included with the board) will protect and prolong the board’s life. We recommend using John Boos Mystery Oil and/or Boos Block Cream with Beeswax.
Research: Plastic vs. Wooden Cutting Boards
Led by Dean O. Cliver, Ph.D, a research team compared plastic and wooden cutting boards to find out how to best disinfect wooden cutting boards from bacteria. They found that disease bacteria were not recoverable from both new and older knife-scarred wooden surfaces in a short time after they were applied, unless very large numbers were used. They found that while new plastic surfaces allowed the bacteria to persist, they were easily cleaned and disinfected. However, they found that older, knife-scarred plastic surfaces were impossible to clean and disinfect manually, especially when food residues such as chicken fat were present. Further, they found that if a sharp knife is used to cut into the work surfaces after used plastic or wood has been contaminated with bacteria and cleaned manually, more bacteria are recovered from the plastic surface than from the wood surface.
The research team has no commercial relationships to John Boos or any other company making cutting boards. They believe, on the basis of their published and to-be-published research that food can be prepared safely on wooden cutting surfaces and that plastic cutting surfaces present some disadvantages. In conclusion, they believe their research shows evidence that wooden cutting boards are not a hazard to human health, but plastic cutting boards may be.