Heinz Tomato Ketchup celebrates its 140 birthday this year but despite selling 650 million bottles every year, few know just why the world’s most famous ketchup is called ‘ketchup’.
First we must start at the beginning.
Heinz was originally set up in 1876 by a man known as Henry John Heinz – a businessman who came from Pittsburgh USA, reports The Sun.
At first the company sold bottles of Horseradish using a recipe which came from Henry Heinz’ mother – however relatively quickly the company went bust and Henry set his sights on tomato sauce.
Along with his brother John and his cousin Frederick they opened a factory in Ohio and started to make ‘Catsup’, which they later renamed Ketchup. Why? For some bizarre reason the trio picked the name from a type of Chinese fermented fish sauce known as Koe-chiap – mmmhm fermented fish…
Another bizarre fact derives from the famous ’57 varieties’ slogan which has featured heavily on Heinz Tomato Ketchup bottles since their early beginnings over a century ago.
Now you might think that the answer is simple. Heinz simply made 57 different types of sauce and condiment when ketchup came to light. Or you might think that Heinz tried ’57 varieties’ of tomato flavourings until they discovered the perfect recipe for their ketchup. Both are reasonable guesses, but both are wrong.
The real reason is that once upon a time Henry Heinz was riding the train through New York City when he spotted a sign which boasted ’21 types of shoe’. Henry thought this type of advertising was clever and thus decided that his number would be 57, which he deemed a lucky number.
Although Heinz was already producing over 60 different products it was the number 57 which featured on all of their products.
140 years later and Heinz continues to sell over 650 million bottles and 11 billion sauce sachets of tomato sauce every year in more than 140 countries.
I think it’s fair to say that Henry’s lucky number was true…
Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.