1986 advert for Heinz Baked Beans

The Heinz company was founded in 1869 by the German Henry John Heinz in Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania, a borough adjoining Pittsburgh. Heinz, then 25 years old, began by delivering processed condiments to local grocers by horse-drawn wagon. The company’s first product was horseradish, followed by pickles, and tomato ketchup.

The company was originally named the Anchor Pickle and Vinegar Works, and was run by Heinz and partner L. C. Noble. The name changed to Heinz, Noble & Company in 1872 when E. J. Noble became joint owner and the company relocated to nearby Pittsburgh.

After a banking panic forced him into bankruptcy in 1875, Heinz restarted his business with the help of his brother John and his cousin Frederick, and in the following year the company introduced what would become its most well-known product: tomato ketchup. The new company was known as F. & J. Heinz until 1888, when Henry bought a controlling interest from his brother and gave the business its current name.

The company’s famous slogan, “57 Varieties”, was chosen by Henry Heinz in 1892 after he saw an advertisement for “21 varieties of shoes” in an elevated train car in New York. In actuality, the company was producing over 60 different products at the time, but Heinz chose the number 57 because the digits “5” and “7” held a special significance for him and his wife.

The company was the focus of bitter labor disputes in 1937, when its workers attempted to organize with the help of the Catholic Radical Alliance.

Another famous slogan is “Beanz Meanz Heinz”, used in the 1960s and beyond to advertise their baked beans in the United Kingdom. Variations of this slogan were used over time, such as “A million housewives every day pick up a tin of Beans and say, Beanz Meanz Heinz”, or “Don’t be mean with the Beans Mum, Beanz Meanz Heinz”. The slogan was put in abeyance during the 1990s, and officially dropped in favor of “Heinz Buildz Britz” c.1996, but after a surprise decline in sales, the new slogan was quickly dropped. In 2002, the company used the nostalgia that by this time surrounded the slogan by running a campaign called “Keep it or can it?” in which Heinz ads from the 1960s and 1970s were re-run, with the addition of an invitation to the public to vote on whether the slogan should be kept. The result was, as expected, a massive majority in favor of keeping the slogan. This, however, was not immediately acted upon, with Heinz’s subsequent ad campaign using the slogan “The bean. The superbean.” instead, although in 2004 they started spelling “Baked Beanz” with a “z” on their beans, which is seen as a reminder of the slogan, and in 2006 it was announced that the company are planning to re-introduce the slogan in a future campaign. From 2007 the company is again using the slogan “Beanz Meanz Heinz” in its campaigns.

In 1919 Henry Heinz died, and control of the company passed to his son, Howard Heinz, who was then succeeded by H. J. Heinz II, in 1941.

Tony O’Reilly made his name in international business at H. J. Heinz & Co. He joined the company in 1969 as MD of the Heinz subsidiary in the UK. He moved to the company HQ in Pittsburgh in 1971 when he was promoted to Senior Vice President. In 1973, he became COO and president, and in 1979, CEO and chairman in 1987, succeeding H. J. Heinz II, and the first non-Heinz family member to hold that post. His guidance is thought to have helped to transform the company into a major international competitor, and during his time in office, despite issues in later years, the company’s value increased fifteenfold. O’Reilly left Heinz in 1998 in response to shareholder pressure; he was replaced by his deputy, William R. Johnson. It is reported that O’Reilly still has a 1.5-2% shareholding in Heinz.

 

By 1972, sales had reached the billion dollar mark. Today, Heinz sells more than 1,300 products worldwide ranging from ketchup to baby food.

Info taken from Wikipedia

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