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About Henry John Heinz
Henry John Heinz (October 11, 1844 – May 14, 1919) was an American businessman who founded the H. J. Heinz Company.
Heinz was one of eight children born to John Henry Heinz and Anna Margaretha Heinz. Both parents had emigrated from Kallstadt, Germany and settled in the Birmingham section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—today known as the South Side.
When Henry was six, the family moved several miles up the Allegheny River to the little town of Sharpsburg. There, at age six, young Henry (called Harry by his family) started helping his mother tend a small backyard garden behind the family home. At age eight Henry was canvassing the neighborhood with a basket under each arm selling vegetables from the family garden door to door. By age nine he was growing, grinding, bottling and selling his own brand of horseradish sauce, based on his mother's recipe. At ten he was given a ¾-acre (3,000 m²) garden of his own and had graduated to a wheelbarrow to deliver his vegetables. At twelve he was working 3½ acres (14,000 m²) of garden using a horse and cart for his three-times-a-week deliveries to grocery stores in Pittsburgh. At seventeen he was grossing $2,400 a year—a handsome sum for the times.
Heinz attended public schools and then Duff's Business College. After graduating from college, he started employment with his father's brick manufacturing business, eventually becoming a partner in the firm. All the while he continued growing and selling fresh produce.
Heinz began packing foodstuffs on a small scale at Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1869. There he founded Heinz Noble & Company with a friend, L. Clarence Noble, and began marketing horseradish. The company went bankrupt in 1875, but the following year Heinz founded another company, F & J Heinz, with his brother and a cousin. One of this company's first products was tomato ketchup.
H. J. Heinz Company
The company continued to grow, and in 1888 Heinz bought out his other two partners and reorganized the company as the H. J. Heinz Company, the name it carries to the present day. Its famous slogan, "57 varieties", was introduced by Heinz in 1896. Inspired by an advertisement he saw while riding an elevated train in New York City (a shoe store boasting "21 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 enduring significance to people of all ages." (The company marketed far more than 57 varieties of product even at that point.) H. J. Heinz was incorporated in 1905, and Heinz served as its first president, remaining in the position for the rest of his life. Under his tutelage, the company was noted for fair treatment of workers and for pioneering safe and sanitary food preparation. Heinz led a successful lobbying effort in favor of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906. During World War I, he worked with the Food Administration.
He was a director in many financial institutions and was chairman of a committee to devise means to protect Pittsburgh from floods.
At the time of Heinz's death in Pittsburgh at the age of 74, the H. J. Heinz Company had over twenty food processing plants, and also included seed farms and container factories. Heinz was the grandfather of H. J. Heinz II, great-grandfather of U.S. Senator H. John Heinz III of Pennsylvania in the United States and great-great grandfather to Henry John Heinz IV along with Andre Thierstein Heinz and Christopher Drake Heinz.