Ye Olde Oak is the leading hot dog brand in Britain.
Frank Rowland Smith (1894 – 1945) was born in Wandsworth, London. His father had emigrated from Lincolnshire to work as a provisions merchant.
Two brothers, R W Smith and Robert Rowland Smith (1902 – 1968), managed the firm by 1949.
Rowland Smith & Son introduced its line of canned meats under the Ye Olde Oak brand in 1949. Ye Olde Oak became the first canned meat brand in Britain to be advertised on colour television in 1956.
Rowland Smith & Son was based at St Thomas Street, London by 1961. By this time the company was best known for canned meats.
Robert Rowland Smith, chairman, died in 1968.
Ye Olde Oak was the major British tinned ham brand, with one third of the market by 1973. Unlike today, tinned ham was considered a relatively upmarket product in the 1970s.
Struik Foods of the Netherlands began to supply Ye Olde Oak with frankfurters from 1979.
The Rowland Smith brothers had no obvious heirs to inherit the company. They approached Hans Struik (born 1940), who acquired the company in 1984.
The company name was changed to Ye Olde Oak Ltd in 1985.
An investigation for The Times in 2005 found that Ye Old Oak hot dogs contained 50 percent meat, but less than that when collagens and fat were excluded.
A 2005 study by Which? magazine found Ye Olde Oak tinned ham contained 37 percent water and just 55 percent meat.