1899: Haberdasher Hans Geste, originally from Ost-München in Bavaria, begins selling purified chemicals such as mercury and arsenic out of his clothier’s shop in San Francisco. Used in making clothes, the toxins are far more refined than his competitors’ and the business flourishes.

1905: Hans Geste’s chemical business is so successful that he closes his haberdashery and sells it to Macy’s. He moves to Oakland with his seven sons to set up a more professional operation.

1906: The great San Francisco Earthquake results in the detonation and immolation of Geste’s chemicals and incinerates three of his sons. Impressed, the US Army contracts with Geste to provide chemicals and explosives to West Coast military bases.

1915: With the outbreak of war in Europe, demand for Geste chemicals skyrockets. Hans’s oldest son, Lars, incorporates GesteCo as a limited-liability company in June. His youngest son, Klaus, travels on a clandestine mission to Bavaria and incorporates GesteCo as a gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftun that same year.

1921: With its war profits and international expansion, GesteCo moves into consumer products, launching a line of mercury and radium based pharmaceuticals.

1923: GesteCo begins manufacturing appliances for the home. Its products like toasters are highly competitive due to the use of inexpensive lead paint insteaks of bakelite.

1927: Hans Geste dies of radiation poisoning after a night spent personally supervising the Radiumeal Radioactive Flour division of GesteCo. His son Lars succeeds him as president.

1934: GesteCo’s German branch becomes the largest chemical and home appliance concern in the country. As part of a promotional tour, Lars provides solid gold toasters to key government and Nazi party officials.

1942: With the entry of the United States into World War II, GesteCo expands yet again. The amphetemines provided to US troops to maintain their combat effectiveness are all GesteCo producs. The mustard gas stockpiled at Bari and subsequently released into the atmosphere during a bombing raid was proudly made at GesteCo’s Love Canal facility.

1961: GesteCo inks a deal with Washington and key universities to lend its expertise to the first attempts at genetic engineering undertaken with government funding. The result, rice enchanced with ricin, is used in an attempt to support the Bay of Pigs invasion.

1978: Lars Geste dies after accidentally being exposed to an experimental line of RNA viruses designed to combat bad breath in infants. His son Heinz becomes president, and inks a deal with the Carter administration to provide high-level aid in genetics and chemical synthesis to US ally Iran.

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