11 October 1844
Born on 11 October 1844 – Henry J. Heinz, the brainz behind the beanz at Heinz. Born in Pennsylviania USA, at the age of 25 Heinz started a company making bottled horseradish. After this venture failed, he started again but this time focused on less spicy condiments – including tomato ketchup, or ‘catsup’ as it was known then. The famous ’57 varieties’ slogan demonstrates Henry’s understanding of showmanship, despite his conservative religiousness – in fact the company had well over 60 lines by this point, it’s just that 57 combined his and his wife’s lucky numbers, and it sounded good.
For most of their success in late 19th century USA, Heinz were possibly best known for their pickles. Meanwhile in 1886, Heinz Baked Beans were first sold at the Fortnum & Mason department store in London – and went on to be such a staple of British food that the WWII Ministry of Food classified Heinz Baked Beans as an “essential food” in the rationing system.
In the USA, baked beans are nowhere near so big an institution despite being their point of origin – possibly because Britain has a tradition – totally baffling to Americans – of the “on-toast meal”. As the 20th century progressed, Heinz tomato ketchup became more and more popular. (However in recent times sales have plunged, with strong 21st century competition from mayonnaise.)
Heinz died in 1919, and his legacy is continued in the family line, with Christopher Heinz a current heir.
PS Heinz’s father hailed from Kallstadt in Bavaria, and his mother was called Charlotte Louisa Trump. Yes, he was a second cousin (twice removed) of Donald Trump.