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A Hormel Foods employee receives his check from the profit-sharing program on Wednesday, Nov. 25. This is the 77th annual Thanksgiving Eve tradition for the company.

AUSTIN— The holidays came early for Hormel Foods employees Wednesday morning.

Many of Hormel Foods employees received a profit-share check from the company, which equals around a base of 2-1/2 weekly checks.

"I have some bills and will take my family out to eat," said Dave Schmidt, Hormel Foods employee after receiving his check. "I really appreciate it."

Originally the tradition began by Jay C. Hormel in 1938 and is voluntarily paid at the discretion of the company's board of directors.

It wasn't just the workers that felt the holiday spirit. Cody Anderson, superintendent of cured and smoked meats at Hormel, laughed when he was asked if he felt like Santa while handing out the checks.

"That's a good way to describe it," he said. "I think it's a great time of year to actually hand out a little extra money to people who work for us...everyone's got a great smile today. You know you're handing out extra money for people to use on Christmas gifts and pay out some bills...it's a great feeling."

This would be the 77th annual Thanksgiving Eve tradition within the Hormel Foods Corp. The company distributed its profit sharing of $17.8 million to eligible hourly and salaried employees. The company itself experienced a 16 percent increase to the annual dividend to shareholders — making this the 50th consecutive annual dividend increase.

Hormel's adjusted net earnings for its just completed fiscal year was a record of $714.4 million — an increase of 19 percent from the net earnings of $602.7 million from the previous year.

"We're really excited," said Tim Fritz, Hormel Foods Austin plant manager. "Our employees are work 365 days a year. We're celebrating, we're proud of our heritage it's a way of showing appreciation for our employees for making this happen."

Other workers at Hormel expressed their excitement over receiving their checks. Albert Lea resident Marcie Anderson said that the money will be going toward bills as well as Christmas present.

"I think it's a very nice gesture for people who are working hard," Anderson said.

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