|H. J. Heinz
turned horseradish into an empire
Henry John Heinz was born in
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on October 11, 1844,
one of eight children born to German immigrants
John Henry and Anna Margaret (Schmidt) Heinz.
When he was six, the family moved to Sharpsburg,
Heinz began his business career
at the age of 8, selling excess vegetables from
his mother's garden. By the time he was 9, Henry
was making and selling his own brand of
horseradish sauce, and by the age of 10 he had
his own garden plot and had gone from carrying
his products in a basket to using a wheelbarrow.
By age 12 he was using a horse-drawn cart
to deliver his horseradish sauce and other fresh
produce to Pittsburgh grocery stores three times
a week, and by 17 he was grossing $2,400 a year.
After graduating from Duff's Business College,
Henry went to work in the office of his father's
brick factory, eventually becoming a partner in
the firm, while still growing and selling fresh
Henry Heinz married Sarah Sloan Young on
September 23, 1869. The couple had 3 sons
(Clarence, Clifford, Howard) and 1 daughter
(Irene). Sarah died in 1894.
In 1869, Heinz and Clarence J. Noble opened
Heinz, Noble & Company to make and bottle
horseradish. The product line came to include
pickles, sauerkraut, and vinegar, but the company
went bankrupt in 1875. Barely a year after his
first business failure, Heinz, with brother John
and cousin Frederick, formed F. J. Heinz &
Co., which produced the same products as the
previous company, plus ketchup.
In 1888, Heinz bought out his partners and
reorganized the business into H.J. Heinz Company.
By the time the company was incorporated in 1905,
it had become the country's leading manufacturer
of ketchup, mustard, pickles, and vinegar.
According to company folklore, Heinz came up with
the slogan "57 varieties" in 1892 (when
his factories were already making more than 60
different products). Inspired by an advertisement
he saw while riding an elevated train in New York
City (a shoe store boasting "23
styles"), Heinz picked the number more or
less at random because he liked the sound of it,
selecting 7 specifically because, as he put it,
of the "psychological influence of that
figure and of its alluring significance to people
of all ages." As the company's list of
products grew to hundreds, Heinz held to the
number 57 for "occult reasons."
Well known for pioneering safe and sanitary
food preparation, Heinz actively lobbied for
passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.
Heinz was also well known for treating his
employees very well, providing them with the most
pleasant work surroundings possible, and, as a
result, never having to deal with strikes or
other labor disputes.
Henry John Heinz died of
pneumonia at his home in Pittsburgh on May 14,
1919, and was buried in that city's Homewood
"H.J. Heinz Is Victim of Pneumonia" Carnegie
Library of Pittsburgh http://www.clpgh.org/exhibit/neighborhoods/northside/nor_n109.html
Notorious Names Database http://www.nndb.com/people/126/000057952/
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