According to the Department of Labor, the actual founder of labor day is a bit unclear:
Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold." But Peter McGuire's place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, founded the holiday.
What isn't mentioned here are recent findings by the Research Association of Pork Amalgamations supporting evidence of a different origin of Labor Day. Have you heard the name Rasher Liverburg? Probably not, but if you love scrapple and having off the first Monday every September, then you should read on.
In 1870, Rasher started working as a liver shoveler at Panhas Packers (PP), at the time the largest producer and distributor of scrapple in Philadelphia. By 1879 he'd worked his way up the ranks at PP to become head of quality control. That year Rasher was also elected secretary of the Scrapple Eaters Union. Due to his long hours at PP, despite his passion for making and eating scrapple Rasher rarely was able to cook up his own hard work. This really bothered Rasher, partially because it killed him to miss out on the scrapple bricks his company was producing every day, but also because he knew he was far from alone at PP.
That Septemember he proposed to Panhas Packers management what he was calling "Enjoy Your Scrapple Labor Day." Just one day a year, their scrapple production plant would be shut down, the stoves would be fired up and Panhas Packer scrapple would flow freely into the bellies of PP employees. Surprisingly, management loved the idea. That first Enjoy Your Scrapple Labor Day went over so well, PP made it an annual tradition, eventually opening up the factory doors and inviting the neighborhood to enjoy their hard work as well.
Eventually, word of this "labor day" made its way to New York City and caught the ear of other larger labor unions, and the rest is Wikipedia history.
But it's important we all learn the scrapple roots of Labor Day and spread the name Rasher Liverburg, even if everything after the first paragraph of this post is entirely made up.
Happy Labor Day and Scrapple On!
Photo by Alameda County Community Food Bank.