Henry J. Heinz: His Recipe for Success
17 artifacts in this set
From his start producing horseradish in 1869 to becoming a household name in manufactured food production, H. J. Heinz vowed to produce the best quality product on the market. While his early competitors sold their food in colored containers to hide impurities, Heinz sold his goods in clear glass bottles to show the purity and superiority of his products.
As Heinz's product line expanded to include a variety of pickled foods and condiments, he carefully wrote down recipes and cooking instructions to ensure a consistent product. Later, Heinz established tasting rooms in his factories where experts would sample the products to guarantee the consistent, desired flavor.
Heinz recognized that producing the highest quality products began with where the ingredients were grown. He took great care in finding the climates and soil that were optimal for pickles, olives, and tomatoes, among others. Once these growing areas were identified, Heinz partnered with the local farmers to acquire the superior crops for his products.
To ensure the freshness and superior taste of his products, Heinz sought to reduce the amount of time between when crops were harvested and when they were processed and packaged in the factory. To do this, he built regional factories, called branches, close to the farms where his crops were grown.
As early as 1872, Heinz promoted his products as "Strictly Pure." Many of his competitors could not say the same. By the 1890s, the processed food industry was under fire for its use of adulterants and false advertising -- everything that Heinz strove to avoid. Recognizing that the industry's reputation would suffer if unchecked, Heinz became an advocate for the Pure Food and Drug Act, which became law in 1906.
Manicurist Stand within Main Factory Plant, H. J. Heinz Company, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, circa 1910
A few years before the Pure Food and Drug Act passed in 1906, Heinz's Pittsburgh plant was deemed a "model factory" -- something to be emulated by other industries. He placed great importance on cleanliness and established sanitation policies that ensured the highest quality in manufactured food production. His policies, along with unprecedented employee amenities, resulted in Heinz receiving awards for his "industrial betterment" work.
Recognizing that the success of his company relied on his employees, Heinz vowed to provide a pleasant working environment to promote a strong company culture. Luxuries such as a gymnasium, swimming pool, auditorium, self-improvement classes, and large dining rooms -- unheard of in other industries -- supported an excellent working relationship between Heinz and his employees, allowing his business to thrive.
Heinz was confident that his processed food production remained the best in the industry. His confidence prompted him to open his Pittsburgh plant to the public for factory tours -- the first in the industry to do so. While touring the on-site company museum, visitors viewed artifacts and photographs documenting the company's history -- including this display board showcasing Heinz's baked beans.
Visitors to the Pittsburgh plant were given walking tours of the processing departments, employee dining and recreation areas, and the Heinz company museum. While receiving a first-hand look at the workers packaging pickles and bottling ketchup, guests were encouraged to try a variety of freshly made samples -- the highlight of the tour for most. In parting, visitors received a souvenir pickle charm.
The pickle charm originated at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and became Heinz's most successful promotion. This prompted him to create a greater variety of giveaways including pins, badges, and other items seen in this display board -- created for and displayed in the original Heinz company museum.
Henry J. Heinz rarely missed an opportunity to market his "57 Varieties" -- the catchy slogan he created despite offering a line of more than 60 packaged products. With his flair for advertising, Heinz aimed to reach consumers in stores, at home, and everywhere in-between. His name was on everything from trade cards to streetcar advertisements, promoting his products to become a household brand.
Dazzling billboards and eye-catching signs are common advertisements in New York City today, but it was H. J. Heinz who started this trend in the city back in 1900. Rising high above pedestrians' heads, Heinz's electric sign -- the first of its kind -- promoted several product varieties with large lettering and a 43-foot-long flashing Heinz pickle.
Heinz salespeople were trained to know the smallest detail about each product. Yearly sales conventions ensured that everyone used consistent language and were knowledgeable in changing techniques, while manuals instructed them on how to persuade potential customers, set up displays, and distribute samples. Click through the pages of this book to see more about store demonstrations!
Armed with a specific company philosophy and product knowledge, salespeople employed a variety of methods to persuade a store owner to carry Heinz products for their stock. When facts and cost analysis wouldn’t do the trick, the salespeople provided on-the-spot comparisons of Heinz products with others featured in the store.
Back in the 1930s, how would one distinguish Heinz products from those of his competitors? Just look for the floor-to-ceiling displays of canned and jarred foods! With elaborate displays created by Heinz salespeople, and distinctive, eye-catching packaging, Heinz became a champion for brand awareness.
Heinz wanted his customers to feel confident about the products they were buying. Heinz's own confidence in his products prompted his extraordinary guarantee -- if you didn't find his items satisfactory or superior, you could get your money back. Both his faith in his product and the promise of zero financial risk in trying a new product helped established customer trust.
Alongside the elaborate displays, a friendly salesperson sometimes offered the latest Heinz products to sample -- and with "57 Varieties," customers had lots of options to try. Sample display cases with bowls, like the one seen here, commonly featured condiments to try with a cracker, while Heinz's processed hot food items, like soups and heat-to-serve spaghetti, were served warm in chafing dishes.