Famous hot dog won't be made in Havre anymore
The production of a north-central Montana staple for generations will soon move from Havre to Denver, the owner of Rocky Mountain Packing Co. said today.
David Swallow of Havre said he is downsizing his operation, moving mainly to wholesaling Rocky Mountain Hot Dogs and a few other products.
He put the property containing the packing plant on the market several months ago, he said.
Swallow said he will continue to own the recipe for the red hot dogs and the product, a favorite with many people on the Hi-Line. He said he is working with a Denver company to manufacture it until he is satisfied with its production of the hot dog, keeping it as close as possible to the original flavor.
His mother, Mamie Swallow, said the family has been involved with the packing plant, and the hot dogs, for decades. Her husband, Aaron Swallow, who died in January, started working for Rocky Mountain Packing on Aug. 6, 1949, shortly after the family moved to Havre.
The packing plant had been a longstanding business at that time, she said. It is in the original building of a local brewery, and she said she believes it probably was turned into a packing plant during Prohibition.
The nation prohibited alcohol with the adoption of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1918, which was overturned by the adoption of the 21st Amendment in 1933.
Aaron Swallow bought the company in 1975, then sold it 13 years later, she said. The new owner had problems with the business, and the Swallows took back ownership two years later, she added.
David Swallow has been connected with the meat packing plant ever since his father started working there, when David was 9, Mamie Swallow said.
"You might say he grew up with it," she said.
She added that he is reducing his operations, at least in part, because of health problems.
David Swallow said part of the reason he is downsizing the operation is because of the cost of operating the plant. It is extremely expensive to pay the taxes, insurance and utilities for the old, large building, he said.
Swallow did not give any definite date when he would close the meat packing plant, or when Rocky Mountain Hot Dogs would start being shipped from Denver. He declined to name the company in Denver he is working with.
The hot dogs are standard items at many local restaurants and are the basis of the Pronto Pups sold during the Great Northern Fair.
They are so popular that some people even export them to friends. A representative of the Havre post office said people have been known to mail Rocky Mountain Hot Dogs out of town in care packages.