Henry Heinz: A True Food Pioneer

Henry Heinz: A True Food Pioneer

Table of Contents


Henry J Heinz was born on October 11, in the year 1844,  in  Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Johann Heinrich Heinz,  who owned a brick-manufacturing firm, and Anna Margaret Schmidt, who loved to prepare pickles.

During his boyhood, Henry was influenced by his hardworking family and started gaining experience in horticulture. When Henry turned ten, he was granted 3000 sqm of land by his parents. By the age of 12, he owned 12,000 sqm of land, which he grew vegetables and fruits. 

Henry also helped his father grind spices for his mother’s pickles. He became adept at preparing the spices, canning, or bottling them and loved his task, and always worked with pleasure.

Sometime later, he is selling his crop as well as his pickles to the local greengrocer.

Early Years

In his early adult years, Henry worked in his father’s firm, becoming a partner later. But the call of pickles tugged at him, and Henry left the brick manufacturing business to return to grated horseradish, one of his mother’s beloved products.

Henry’s first brilliant business idea was to pack the horseradish in clear glass bottles that shows its purity.

Heinz, joined by a friend named Clarence Noble, peddled fresh or pickled vegetables from their garden to customers in the area. Henry was 25 years of age when he and Clarence formed the Pittsburgh partnership of Heinz and Noble to produce "pure and superior" grated horseradish and other bottled products. 

Henry John Heinz began packing food on a small scale at Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1869. Everybody loved his horseradish.

He was an excellent salesman, and within a year, his company had been solidly established.

The Fall and the Rise of the Pickle King

The Panic of 1873 caused economic chaos in the US, and Henry's business was among the many affected.  By 1875, there was an oversupply of horseradish, and nobody would pay for pickled horseradish when they could get it for almost nothing. 

When Heinz and Noble were forced to declare bankruptcy, it was a blow to Heinz's ego. But Heinz believed in the quality of his food, and with his strong determination to succeed, Heinz plunged back into the bottled pickles business.

An honorable man, he too wanted to pay his creditors. With his brother John and a cousin named Frederick as partners, he established F & J Heinz in 1877 to manufacture bottled pickles, condiments, and other canned goods.

The business became successful, and Heinz made good on his obligations. In 1888, the partnership was reorganized as the H.J. Heinz Company after Heinz obtained financial control of the company. 

Heinz sincerely believed that consumers would buy his products if they had the chance to try them. So he constantly moved around the country to promote the products. In trains, he gives samples, even inventing a special cardboard spoon that customers can throw away after use.

Soon Heinz was known all over the country as the 'pickle king.

Timeline of A True Food Pioneer

1869: Heinz started selling horseradish, pickles, and vinegar which he bottles in clear glass so his customers could see the quality.

1876: Ketchup was added to the product line. And Heinz introduced it to the world as catsup.

He also introduced the sweet pickle, which everyone raved about.

1888: Heinz paid out his other two partners (his brother and cousin) and reorganized it as the H. J. Heinz Company, the name carried to the present day.

1893: Heinz became a hit at the World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago. He had the largest exhibit, and to drive traffic to his display, he handed out ‘pickle pins’ with free samples of his food. It was said that about 1million people were proudly sporting the pickle pins at the end of the fair.

1896: Heinz introduced his now-iconic slogan, “57 varieties” Then, the company already has more than 60 products, but he chose the number because, according to him, 5 is his lucky number and 7 is his wife’s. Isn’t that sweet and lucky!

1906: Heinz led a successful lobbying effort to President Roosevelt in favor of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906. He was the only food manufacturer supporting the ACT. He was a champion of food quality. As a result, Heinz sets the bar for other food companies to maintain cleanliness and quality standards.

1908: H.J Heinz officially took the world by storm and was heralded as the world’s number one Tomato Manufacturer.

1911: Promoted as a table sauce that gives zest to all kinds of cold or hot meats, fish, and other seafood, Heinz’s Beefsteak Sauce was introduced to a warm welcome.

1916: Heinz was a stickler to quality; to find better ways to maintain the quality of the company's products, he built a research facility in Bowling Green, OH. The facility is solely dedicated to improving the quality of the produce of its products.

When Henry Heinz's passed away in Pittsburgh at the age of 74, his company owned more than 20 food processing plants and had seed farms and container factories.


Henry J. Heinz founded H. J. Heinz Company, a global corporation and a business empire in 1869.  Reaching markets in over 200 countries and territories, Heinz manufactures quality, delicious, thus, well-loved products on six continents.

Quick facts:

Revenue - $24.98 billion

Employees - 38,000

The company holds 150 number-one or number-two brands worldwide.

Heinz’s Legacy Transcends Beyond Business

Many of Heinz's descendants are known to possess his business acumen and fair leadership. Many of his descendants were involved in philanthropy, and some played prominent roles in politics and society.

Henry's son Howard Heinz succeeded him in the management of the business empire. He followed the main principles of his father. Thus he was able to stir the company through the Great Depression. He was an excellent manager who could anticipate the demands of the market. 

In 1941, Jack Heinz II, Henry's grandson, headed the company. He was a visionary leader. He expanded the family business by building factories worldwide.

Key Takeaway

He was generations ahead of his age. He pioneered many aspects: healthy food production, excellent marketing strategy (giveaways and free tasting), and empathic leadership. Henry Heinz's tenacity to advance his great idea is a blessing to humankind. 

Because of his passion and determination to advance what he knows and believes to be top-of-the-line food, generations across the world can partake in the fruits of his labor. Not only the food itself, but workers can find a job in a workplace that treats employees well. He manages business and people so well.

As the extraordinary man himself said, “It is neither capital nor labor but management that brings success, since management will attract capital, and capital can employ labor.“