Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

Condiments and Comedy in the Heinz House

November 3, 2014

Chief Curator Marc Greuther and Mo Rocca talk product packaging in the Heinz House.

When host Mo Rocca offered Marc Greuther, chief curator at The Henry Ford, a sample of “Monnaise” on the set of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation, it was difficult not to laugh out loud. We were filming in the Heinz House in Greenfield Village, among original artifacts documenting some of Henry J. Heinz’s earliest innovations and successes. Mo’s plastic condiment containers with their silly labels (fabricated by the show’s producers as props) looked absurd in this setting, to be sure! But looking back, they weren’t as out of place as it might have seemed.

Mo’s faux condiment line with props from other episodes of "The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation."

Henry J. Heinz was no stranger to clever and colorful product packaging. In fact, he pioneered the concept of brand-name identification, employing recognizable packaging designs that would attract customers – and keep them coming back for more. Heinz’s labels also conveyed information about purity and quality that set his products apart from those of competitors.

So, while consumers wouldn’t have found “Pickle Molish” on shelves in the 1870s, they could bring home an attractively-labeled bottle of “Celebrated Celery Sauce.” And while a shopper might not have needed to read a “Mostard” label to know It’s Yellow!, a horseradish label indicating Strictly Pure contents would have informed a health-conscious home cook at a time when not all prepared food products were reliably safe.

53.41.2146.1, 1871 Product Label for Celebrated Celery Sauce by Heinz & Noble (THF117109).

53.41.2156, 1872 Product Label for Bottled Horseradish by Heinz, Noble & Company (THF117119).

I’m not sure I’d spread “Monnaise” on my next sandwich, no matter how Rocca-in’ Good! it might be, but I’m glad Mo and the Innovation Nation crew are spreading the word about some of Henry J. Heinz’s product packaging innovations!

To learn more about this and other episodes of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation, visit our website and be sure to tune into the CBS Dream Team… It’s Epic! on Saturday mornings (check your local listings).

Saige Jedele is Assistant Curator, Special Projects at The Henry Ford.

 

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

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