The following post is an excerpt from the new book, 57 Servings From the Heinz Table, by History Center curator Emily Ruby. You can purchase the book from our museum shop or online.
When H.J. Heinz first visited Atlantic City, N.J., the eight piers that extended from the boardwalk into the ocean inspired a grand advertising idea, and in 1898, the company leased one of them. The Heinz Pier offered free admission and amenities such as a glass pavilion with “oil paintings, mirrors, vases, statuary, and valuable bric-a-brac” in the finest Victorian tradition. It also featured a large painting of the Heinz factory, portraits of the salesmen, and elaborate product displays. For cold-weather tourists, the company added a sun parlor to provide shelter.
Visitors could write to their friends on complimentary souvenir postcards, sample Heinz products, hear presentations on the Heinz business, and in its later years, watch cooking demonstrations in the Heinz kitchen. Destroyed by a hurricane in 1944, the pier was never rebuilt.
When Heinz started his company in 1869, international expositions introduced people to new businesses, products, and innovations from around the world. Heinz loved fairs and never missed an opportunity to use them to promote his company. His elaborate displays and tasty products won many awards: in 1889, Heinz pickles won a gold medal at the Paris Exposition, the first time an American pickle manufacturer won such an award in Europe. Long after his death, Heinz booths and even buildings at fairs continued to attract large crowds with their presentations and generous giveaways.
Emily Ruby is a curator at the Heinz History Center, where she oversaw research and interpretation for the new Heinz exhibit. She is the author of the new book, 57 Servings From the Heinz Table, available now.