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Henry John Heinz was born 11 October 1844 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In his teens he was already selling produce from his family's garden, hinting at greater things. He soon had a few "employees" helping him to deliver it to grocers in Pittsburgh.

But it was in 1869 that the town of Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania, saw the founding of what would become an empire: Heinz & Noble (L. Clarence Noble, his partner). The first product was a version of Henry's mother's grated horseradish. One of his innovations was to sell it in clear glass bottles in order to emphasize its "purity" (proving that it really was horseradish and not horseradish mixed with other vegetables). The company did fairly well until 1875, when it went bankrupt (due to a surplus of crops). Heinz refused to give up and was able reorganize and continue the following year. And that was year he introduced his famous ketchup (other products included celery sauce, pickled cucumbers, sauerkraut, and vinegar).

Marketing and promotion were always important to Heinz. At the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, he introduced the "Heinz pickle pin" (a little green pickle with the company name on it) that was highly popular (and eventually a collectible). As he said, "It's not so much what you say, but how, when and where." He also gave out numerous free samples.

But his greatest feat of marketing genius was the use of "57." In 1896, Heinz was on the elevated railway in New York City. He noticed an advertisement for shoes with the line "21 styles of shoes." This was inspiring to Heinz who decided that he would advertise his products with a number. He eventually determined to go with "57 varieties," making the essentially meaningless number (the company already had in excess of 60 varieties of products) immortal in the history of advertising. Ads (see example below) and billboards popped up all over and Heinz became a household name.

One billboard in New York City was six stories high and featured a forty foot long (12.2 m) "electrified pickle." He even had giant pickles constructed to promote his products—one was built on a pier in Atlanta, Georgia that was 70 feet tall (21.3 m). This sort of overblown advertising gave rise to a rumor that he had purchased Lookout Mountain on the Tennessee/Georgia stateline in order to "scrape off the side and sculpt a pickle of unprecedented proportions." Though it was only a rumor, it outraged quite a few people.

By 1900, there were over 200 varieties being sold not only in the United States but all over the world. And as of 1905, the H.J. Heinz Company was the largest producer of pickles, vinegar, and ketchup. And though Heinz died in 1919, his sons carried on for the company, adding baby food and "ready-to-serve" soup in 1931. The company was well-enough run that it was able to cut costs and increase production during the Great depression—while managing to leave wages intact.

During World War II, the company joined in the war effort and like so many companies employed many woman. It offered typical catchy wartime slogans like "Beans to bombers" and "Pickles to pursuit planes." Following the war, H.J. Heinz continued to grow and expand its operations into other countries.

During the sixties, the company began diversifying by acquiring other food companies: StarKist (tuna) in 1963 and Ore-Ida (frozen potato products) in 1965. As testament to the success, SunKist's mascot Charlie the Tuna is still readily recognizable today and Ore-Ida's Tater Tots are one of Heinz' top sellers. In 1978, Weight Watchers International joined the Heinz family of companies. In addition to "people food," Heinz also owns 9 Lives, Kibbles 'n Bits, Pup-Peroni, and Snausages, for the discerning pet.

In 1990, the first "fully recyclable ketchup bottle" was introduced by Heinz USA and StarKist began marketing the first "dolphin-safe" tuna.

At the beginning of the second millennium, the company offers over 5700 varieties of products in some 200 countries. About half of sales are from outside the United States and 70% of sales are of items without the brand Heinz on them.

(Sources: www.heinz.com, www.straightdope.com from which the pickle quote came, www.britannica.com, Richard Shenkman and Kurt Reiger's One-Night Stands with American History, 1982, from which the ad was adapted)


From a 1923 Heinz ad. It has a large, bold "57" amid a sea of smaller numbers. It states:
56 is just a number—58 is just a number—but 57 means good things to eat

Here are Heinz 57 Varieties. How many do you know?

Though there were considerably more products by then, it's fun to see the listings from lower portion of the ad:

1 Heinz Baked Beans with Pork and Tomato Sauce
2 Heinz Baked beans without Tomato Sauce, with Pork—Boston Style
3 Heinz Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce without meat—Vegetarian
4 Heinz Baked Red Kidney Beans
5 Heinz Peanut Butter
6 Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup
7 Heinz Cream of Pea Soup
8 Heinz Cream of Celery Soup
9 Heinz Cooked Spaghetti
10 Heinz Cooked Macaroni
11 Heinz Mince Meat
12 Heinz Plum Pudding
13 Heinz Fig Pudding
14 Heinz Cherry Preserves
15 Heinz Red Raspberry Preserves
16 Heinz Peach Preserves
17 Heinz Damson Plum Preserves
18 Heinz Strawberry Preserves
19 Heinz Pineapple Preserves
20 Heinz Black Raspberry Preserves
21 Heinz Blackberry Preserves
22 Heinz Apple Butter
23 Heinz Crab-apple Jelly
24 Heinz Currant Jelly
25 Heinz Grape Jelly
26 Heinz Quince Jelly
27 Heinz Apple Jelly
28 Heinz Dill Pickles
29 Heinz Sweet Midget Gherkins
30 Heinz Preserved Sweet Gherkins
31 Heinz Preserved Sweet Mixed Pickles
32 Heinz Sour Spiced Gherkins
33 Heinz Sour Midget Gherkins
34 Heinz Sour Mixed Pickles
35 Heinz Chow Chow Pickle
36 Heinz Sweet Mustard Pickle
37 Queen Olives
38 Heinz Manzilla Olives
39 Heinz Stuffed Olives
40 Heinz Ripe Olives
41 Heinz Pure Olive Oil
42 Heinz Sour Pickled Onions
43 Heinz Worcestershire Sauce
44 Heinz Chili Sauce
45 Heinz Beefsteak Sauce
46 Heinz Red Pepper Sauce
47 Heinz Green Pepper Sauce
48 Heinz Tomato Ketchup
49 Heinz Prepared Mustard
50 Heinz India Relish
51 Heinz Evaporated Horse-Radish
52 Heinz Salad Dressing
53 Heinz Mayonnaise
54 Heinz Pure Malt Vinegar
55 Heinz Pure Cider Vinegar
56 Heinz Distilled White Vinegar
57 Heinz Tarragon Vinegar

If you only know 4 or 5, you can be assured that the other 53 or 52 are just as good. If your grocer does not have the ones you want please write us

H. J. HEINZ COMPANY, Pittsburgh, Pa.

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