Heinz: Mottoes and 57 Varieties

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.

Mottoes

Heinz credited his mother for his strong faith and work ethic, and for his love of motivational proverbs and aphorisms that he called “mottoes.” He used them to decorate his company office, stained glass windows at the factory, and company exhibitions. Over time they became a part of the culture and guiding principles of the Heinz company and were used long after his death. The most enduring of his personal mottoes: “To do a common thing uncommonly well brings success.”

Heinz Company Exhibition, c. 1940.
Heinz Company Exhibition, c. 1940. Heinz shared his favorite mottoes with his workers and the public in the plant and at trade shows. From the H.J. Heinz Company Photographs, Detre Library & Archives at the History Center.
Heinz Office, c. 1900.
Heinz Office, c. 1900. Heinz’s favorite mottoes can be seen on the walls of his office. From the H.J. Heinz Company Photographs, Detre Library & Archives at the History Center.

57 Varieties

Why 57? The most often-told story is that H.J. Heinz created the Heinz 57 trademark after spotting a sign advertising “21 Styles of Shoes” while riding an elevated train in New York City in 1896. Captivated, he decided to advertise Heinz products in a similar way. Heinz began counting, and stopped at 57, even though the company made many more products, because he liked the way it sounded. Heinz put his 57 and his name everywhere, from signs on his delivery wagons to larger signs on buildings, in trolleys, and by roadways and rail lines. The trademarked 57 dominated the company’s labels and advertising until 1969, and can still be found on packaging today.

Heinz ketchup trolley sign, c. 1915.
Heinz ketchup trolley sign, c. 1915. From the H.J. Heinz Company Photographs, Detre Library & Archives at the History Center.
“57” on a hillside, c. 1915.
“57” on a hillside, c. 1915. From the H.J. Heinz Company Photographs, Detre Library & Archives at the History Center.

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.

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