When General Motors Company (GM) Was Still in Ford Motor Company (F)’s Rearview Mirror

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On this day in economic and financial history…

General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) spent much of its early history in Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F)‘s shadow. While Ford pioneered the assembly line and introduced the car culture to the masses, General Motors underwent a series of dramatic restructurings at the hands of risk-taking founder William C. Durant. However, by Feb. 22, 1923, it began to seem possible that GM might be able to challenge Ford’s dominance when the millionth Chevrolet rolled off GM’s assembly line.

General Motors Company (NYSE:GM)Chevrolet was Durant’s brainchild during his first exile from GM. Between 1911 and 1915, he built the company from its founding to a size worthy of GM’s attention. After engineering a GM buyout of Chevy, Durant returned to his former company’s helm and positioned as GM’s answer to the Ford Model T. It took eight more years after that millionth Chevy for Chevrolet to displace Ford. Ford built its millionth Model T in the year GM acquired Chevy, and its 10 millionth came a year after Chevy’s millionth auto. However, GM was the first to market (Ford didn’t go public until 1956), and its rising fortunes earned it an extended stay on the Dow Jones Industrial Average beginning in 1925. This was well justified, as GM leveraged the strength of its multiple marquees into auto-industry leadership by 1931, when it finally displaced Ford at the top of the sales charts.

GM held this title for 77 years before finally losing the sales crown to Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM) in 2008. A year later, it was bankrupt, and an 84-year streak of index membership came to an end.

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Extra butter, please
The Western world got its first taste of popcorn on Feb. 22, 1630, when a group of Native Americans brought the tasty snack to a Thanksgiving dinner held by the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The United States has remained the world’s leading producer of popcorn ever since, with roughly 500,000 tons of the puffy stuff produced every year. About 115,000 tons of that popcorn was exported in 2011. That’s a whole lot of Jiffy Pop!

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