150 years and 5 generations of family soapmaking

Dr. Bronner’s was founded in 1948 by Emanuel Bronner, a third- generation master soapmaker from a German-Jewish soapmaking family. He used the labels on his superb ecological soaps to spread his message that we must realize our transcendent unity across religious & ethnic divides: “We are All-One or None!” Still family-owned and run, Dr. Bronner’s honors its founder’s vision by making socially & environmentally responsible products of the highest quality—and by dedicating our profits to help make a better world. All-One!

1858

Soapmaking begins in Heilbronner home—Jewish quarter, Laupheim, Germany.

Original house where soap making began.

1880s/90s

Heilbronners invent first liquid castile soap—supply washrooms across Germany—sell bar soaps under “Madaform” brand.

Lithograph of the Bonner's soap factory in Germany, 1922.

1908

Emanuel Heilbronner (Dr. Bronner) enters the world!

 Photo of Dr. Bronner as a child with his family.

1920s

Emanuel (Emil) apprentices with Jewish soapmaking family—receives Soapmaking Master certificate from guild system trade school and university degree in chemistry.

1929

Emil’s powerful personality, Zionist ideals and ideas for modern soapmaking lead to clashes with father and uncles—emigrates to U.S.

1930s

Emil advises U.S. soap and chemical specialty manufacturers. With rise of Hitler, drops “Heil” from last name.

1940s

Nazis nationalize family soap factory—Emil’s parents deported and killed in Auschwitz and Theriesenstadt.

Emil adopts honorific “Dr.”—with his intensity, scientific knowledge and thick German accent, no one argues.

Family photo in the 1940s.

1945

Escapes Elgin State Insane Asylum after being institutionalized for vehemently espousing his views—later blames shock treatments for declining eyesight and blindness in the ‘60s.

Elgin State Insane Asylum

1948

Founding of Dr. Bronner’s! Production of liquid Peppermint soap and health food seasonings begins.

Building where production began.

1950

All-One! Dr. Bronner lectures in Pershing Square, exhorting all to unite as one—sells Peppermint soap on the side—realizes many are taking soap and leaving so prints lecture on labels. Sons Jim and Ralph help with business.

1960s/70s

Dr. Bronner’s soap becomes iconic soap of the era. Young people groove on label’s call for peace. Plant moves to Escondido, California. Jim becomes VP of R&D and Production.

Man washing beard and hair with soap.

1980s

Dr. Bronner’s soaps spread to mainstream. Ralph works with Dr. Bronner to refine message on bottles. Jim launches Bronner Chemical and Technical Consulting—invents foam concentrate still used in fighting forest and structure fires.

Photo of Ralph in front of chemical equipment.

1990s

Dr. Bronner’s health failing from Parkinson’s, sons Ralph and Jim and Jim’s wife Trudy assume control of company—Jim serves as President, Ralph as VP and company spokesperson, Trudy as Treasurer/CFO.

1990s family photo.

1997

Passing of Dr. Bronner.

Dr. Bronner outside relaxing in the sun.

1998

Jim Bronner, battling cancer, spends year training son David (24-year-old Harvard graduate, mental health counselor, hemp advocate) to run company. Donates 1,200-acre parcel of wilderness worth $1.4 million to San Diego County Boys & Girls Club.

On Jim’s passing, David, with mom Trudy and Uncle Ralph, begins running company.

David with soap equipment.

2000

Michael Bronner joins company—begins exportation of Dr. Bronner’s soaps around the world.

Family photo from the year 2000.

2001-2004

Dr. Bronner’s funds and helps coordinate hemp industry’s battle to defeat DEA’s regulations—victory comes on February 6, 2004—Bob Marley’s birthday!

An field of hump with a sunny sky.

2003

Dr. Bronner’s becomes largest personal care company certified under USDA’s National Organic Program. Pioneers 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. Institutes progressive business practices: 5-to-1 compensation cap between top salaried employee and lowest-wage warehouse position—100% health coverage—all profits not needed for business dedicated to progressive causes and charities.

Uncle Ralph performs off-off-Broadway one-man show about his life, father, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps.

USDA Organic logo on label.

2005

Sue Kastensen (Sun Dog Hemp Body Care) joins Dr. Bronner’s—helps reformulate her famous lip balms, body balms and lotions to USDA National Organic Program standards.

Sue with table of hemp products.

2006

Comprehensive project to source all major raw materials from certified Fair Trade sources.

Smiling workers preparing materials.

2007

Dr. Bronner’s certified as Fair Trade company.

Release of independent film, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox.

2008

Dr. Bronner’s celebrates 150 years of soapmaking and 60 years of certified organic products. Expands distribution into Israel, fulfilling Emanuel Bronner’s lifelong dream.

60th anniversary label.

2011

Sister company, Dr. Bronner’s Germany (DBG), opens in Dusseldorf, distributes throughout Europe.

Dr. Bronner’s co-brands with its Fair Trade coconut supplier from Sri Lanka (Serendipol) to launch White Kernel and Whole Kernel Fair Trade Coconut Oils.

Smiling worker with coconut.

2010-2013

David Bronner arrested outside DEA headquarters for planting hemp seeds, and again for harvesting hemp plants in a cage in front of the White House.

September 2013, Dr. Bronner’s staff celebrates with farmer Ryan Loflin as he harvests first American commercial hemp crop in over sixty years.

Firemen at a festival.

2012 to 2013

GMO labeling throwdown! Dr. Bronner’s partners with coalition of parent, consumer, health and environmental groups to demand labeling of genetically engineered foods.

Activists holding signs.

2014

After growing 1,100% over 15 years, Dr. Bronner’s moves into larger factory. Commits to becoming a zero waste operation.

Machinery inside the soap factory.

2015

Passing of Ralph Bronner, heart and soul of Dr. Bronner’s—inspired us all to hold true to the mission of spreading love first, making profits second. Thank you, Uncle Ralph!

Uncle Ralph playing his guitar.

Dr. Bronner’s famous product labels are updated preserving Emanuel Bronner’s philosophy & values!

Famous Dr. Bronner labels over the years.

First Annual All-One Report launched.

Sisters & Brothers cover of the report.

Dr. Bronner’s announces incorporation as a Benefit Corporation and certification as a B Corp™.

B corporation logo.

2016

Dr. Bronner’s joins leading manufacturers, retailers and nonprofits in launching Fair Pay Today campaign to support raising the minimum wage.

Worker advocate quote by CEO David Bonner.

Launch of “Journey to Serendipol,” Dr. Bronner’s mini-documentary about fair trade, organic local community farms project in Sri Lanka producing Dr. Bronner’s Virgin Coconut Oil.

Dr. Bronner’s supports Cleaning Products Disclosure bill.

White, red, and green soap label.

2017

Dr. Bronner’s + Sea Shepherd Global launch the MV Emanuel Bronner to protect the world’s whales, dolphins and wildlife.

Crew aboard a boat at a dock.

Launch of “Sisters & Brothers,” an album of historic spoken-word recordings of founder, Emanuel Bronner.

Color vinyl record sleeve.

2018

Hemp agriculture now legal in United States after two decades of Dr. Bronner’s advocacy and leadership in this fight!

Advocates outside the Capital.

Dr. Bronner’s Co-Creates Regenerative Organic Certification.

Regenerative Organic Certified logo.

Heal Earth! Dr. Bronner’s launches major promotion of regenerative organic agriculture and begins labeling products that contain Regenerative Organic Certified ingredients.

A person holding a bottle of soap in a field.

Jim Bronner Gymnasium opens, donated to the YMCA by the Bronner family to celebrate the life of Jim Bronner!

Photo outside of the Jim Bronner Gymnasium.

Dr. Bronner’s, Organic Valley, and Grassroots Alliance support Camp Fire relief effort through Grassroots Aid Partnership, delivering food, toiletries and aid.

Volunteers preparing meals.

2019

Mini-documentary “Journey to Pavitramenthe” premiers showcasing the regenerative organic and fair trade project in India that produces the organic mint oil used in our iconic peppermint soap.

David Bronner co-creates Sun + Earth Certification—the righteous way to grow cannabis!

Photo of a cannabis farm.

Dr.Bronner’s headquarters becomes 100% renewable energy powered!

Solar panels in a parking lot.

2020

Dr. Bronner’s sources 100% of the Organic Hemp Seed Oil in its soap and other products from U.S. farmers after twenty years of victorious activism to legalize hemp farming.

Three men in a cannabis field.

“You Shop, We Give” campaign starts on DrBronner.com. Customers can choose nonprofit organizations to receive donation from Dr. Bronner’s.

A large group of people outside.

Dr. Bronner’s Coconut Oil is now Regenerative Organic Certified, becoming the first Regenerative Organic Certified virgin coconut oil to market in United States!

Coconut oil jar.

Heal Soul! Dr. Bronner’s donates $5 Million to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), as part of activism and advocacy for psychedelic-assisted therapy and drug policy reform. We create special limited edition “Heal Soul!” label on our soaps.

Illustration for campaign in support of psychedelic studies.

Dr. Bronner’s releases cannabis-scented bar soap to support Sun+Earth Certified campaign.

Cannabis infused bar soap.

2021

Dr. Bronner’s creates line of dark chocolate bars like no other to spark ethical chocolate excellence in organic, fair trade, vegan varieties.

Delicious and good: chocolate bars with almonds.

Portfolio Books Publishes First-Ever Book About Dr. Bronner’s—Honor Thy Label: Dr. Bronner’s Unconventional Journey To A Clean, Green And Ethical Supply Chain by Dr. Gero Leson, VP of Special Operations.

Advertisement for Honor Thy Label book.