Guide to the H.J. Heinz Company Audiovisual Collection, 1900-2008 (bulk 1957-1962; 1989-1999)

Senator John Heinz History Center

Summary Information

Detre Library & Archives, Heinz History Center
H.J. Heinz Company Audiovisual Collection
H.J. Heinz Company
Collection Number
MSC 57
Date [inclusive]
1900-2008 (bulk 1957-1962; 1989-1999)
30 linear feet linear feet (27 boxes)
Language of Materials
The material in this collection is in English.
The H.J. Heinz Company Audiovisual Collection contains advertisement material on videotapes, film reels, slides, and record albums. The bulk of the collection is comprised of Heinz Company commercials on video cassettes from the 1990s, many of which were created and distributed in markets outside of the United States, such as Australia, Canada, France, Japan and the United Kingdom. The commercials advertise Heinz products as well as the products of Heinz-owned companies, such as Ore-Ida, StarKist and Weight Watchers.
Sponsor Note
Funding for this project was made available by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission in 2014.

Preferred Citation

H.J. Heinz Company Audiovisual Collection, 1947-2006, MSC 57, Thomas and Katherine Detre Library and Archives, Senator John Heinz History Center

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The H.J. Heinz Company was founded in 1869 by Henry John Heinz (1844-1919). Along with his partner, L.C. Noble, H.J. Heinz began to cultivate horseradish on a less than one-acre plot in Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania. Heinz and Noble, producing their product under the brand of Anchor Pickle and Vinegar Works, expanded their business to include over one hundred acres of land, a work force numbering over one hundred, and new products such as pickles, vinegar, and celery sauce. In 1872, E.J. Noble entered the partnership to become Heinz, Noble and Company, and the plant moved to Second Avenue in Pittsburgh. In 1875, when Heinz contracted to buy the products produced by a pickling and bottling company in Woodstock, Illinois, branch distributing houses were opened at St. Louis and Chicago. The Panic of 1873, however, eventually caused Heinz, Noble and Company to go bankrupt by 1875. H.J. Heinz began a new business two months later with help from his brother John and his cousin Frederick. The company became known as F.and J. Heinz from 1876 until 1888. The year 1876 was also significant because they introduced tomato ketchup to the Heinz product lines. Additional products such as apple butter, pepper sauce, and mince meat were also introduced in these early years.

In 1888, H.J. Heinz acquired controlling interest in the Company from his brother John, thus establishing the H.J. Heinz Company. The H.J. Heinz Company expanded dramatically in 1890 with the construction of the factory in Allegheny City along Main Street (later called Progress Street) on the North Side. This plant is still in operation and continues to be the central office. Plants and branch houses were also built in Muscatine, Iowa; Hicksville, New York; and Holly, Michigan, among others. In order to further promote the Heinz name, the Heinz Company participated in many World Fairs, including the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago where the very first pickle pin was distributed. The H.J. Heinz Company became international when the London grocery house of Fortnum and Mason contracted to sell Heinz products. A branch house was established in London, England in 1895 and the first plant opened in England in 1905. The familiar Heinz "57 Varieties" trademark was adopted in 1896 when H.J. Heinz was inspired by an advertisement for "21 Styles" of shoes. Another important milestone occurred in 1898 with the construction of the Heinz Ocean Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where Heinz products and objects of art were exhibited. Advertising continued to play an important role in 1899 with the erection of the largest electrical sign in the world promoting Heinz 57 varieties at the corner of Twenty-third and Broadway in New York City. Furthermore, beginning in 1899, thousands of visitors were escorted through the Pittsburgh plant annually as a way of introducing people to Heinz products.

The H.J. Heinz Company was officially incorporated in 1905 (Pennsylvania approved the incorporation in 1900 and the County Law Department in 1905) with $4 million in stock owned by H.J. Heinz, his cousin Frederick Heinz, his son Howard, W.H. Robinson, R.G. Evans, and his brother-in-law Sebastian Mueller. The Company continued to expand by introducing new products and building more plants at home and abroad. By 1902 there were seven branch factories in the United States and 21 salting stations (salting stations were responsible for pickling cucumbers). An olive factory was built in Seville, Spain, in 1904. Also in 1904, H.J. Heinz had the original two-story brick building (known as "The Little House Where We Began") moved by barge from its original site in Sharpsburg to the plant on the North Side. Heinz stressed the purity of his food products and went to great lengths to maintain clean conditions in his factories for employees. Heinz lobbied for the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act signed by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. Heinz practiced a paternalistic approach to management and employer-employee relations. Heinz had an auditorium, roof garden, dining rooms, and a library constructed for the benefit of his employees. Employees received gifts during the holidays and went on company outings to such places as Rock Springs, Pennsylvania.

H.J. Heinz died of pneumonia in 1919 at the age of 75, but the H.J. Heinz Company continued to expand and flourish under his son Howard Heinz (1877-1941). H.J. Heinz chose his second oldest son Howard over his eldest son Clarence to succeed him because of Clarence's ill health and lack of interest in managing the Company. By 1919, the H.J. Heinz Company had over 6,500 employees, 25 branch factories, 85 salting stations, 53 tomato receiving stations, and 111 pickle receiving stations. Business overseas continued to prosper in England and elsewhere in Europe. Additions and renovations continued to be made to the Pittsburgh plant on the North Side. Like his father, Howard maintained a paternalistic relationship with his employees. Many of the improvements made to the Pittsburgh plant were for the welfare of the workers. In 1930, a new auditorium and service building was dedicated to the Heinz employees by Herbert Hoover in a broadcast from the White House. The H.J. Heinz Company survived the Great Depression and continued to build more factories, hire more employees, and undertake ambitious advertising campaigns. Despite labor problems elsewhere, the first strike at Heinz did not occur until 1938 when employees struck for higher wages. The H.J. Heinz Company now had 25 factories in four countries and over 11,000 employees. The successful Heinz line of condensed soup and strained foods was introduced in the 1930s. Howard Heinz died in 1941 and was succeeded by his son H.J. "Jack" Heinz II (1909-1987).

H.J. Heinz II began working for the Company at age 16. He worked with the Company in a number of capacities until he was named president after his father's death. H.J. Heinz II was very concerned with nutrition and public health. The Company became an underwriter for the Nutrition Foundation to help Americans maintain health standards during World War II. In 1944, a Nutritional Research Laboratory was established at Heinz. During the war, Heinz produced canned foods, such as soup and ham and eggs, for the soldiers. In 1942, in an unusual departure from food production, the Heinz factory in Pittsburgh began manufacturing plastic parts for gliders and airplanes to aid in the war effort. Heinz also distributed a number of products manufactured by other companies, such as Sun-Maid Raisins, Lake Shore Honey, and Van Houten's Golden Seal Cocoa. Among the new foods introduced in these years were juices, and dry spaghetti, noodles, and macaroni. The Company became a public corporation in 1946 when it entered the New York Stock Exchange. In 1948, H.J. Heinz II announced that a 15 million dollar building program was scheduled for the Pittsburgh plant. The building program included a new warehouse, vinegar building, and research center. The "Little House Where We Began" was disassembled brick-by-brick and moved from the Heinz plant in Pittsburgh to Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan in 1954. It was reassembled there and exhibited, along with Heinz memorabilia, amidst the other historic buildings.

By the second half of the 20th century, the H.J. Heinz Company had become the global corporation we know today. In 1961, the Company set a record with over 300 million dollars in worldwide sales. The Company purchased the capital stock of Star-Kist Foods, Inc. in 1963; Ore-Ida Foods, Inc. in 1965; and Weight Watchers International, Inc. in 1978. With the death of H.J. Heinz II in 1987, the Company elected Anthony J.F. O'Reilly as the first non-family member became president of the Company. In 1992, a processing plant for soup and baby food was added to the Pittsburgh plant in a project called "HeinzSite, our vision for the future." The Company acquired the All American Gourmet Company and Quaker Oats North American Pet Foods Division in 1995. By 1995, the H.J. Heinz Company's global sales were over 8 billion dollars with almost half coming from its overseas operations and seventy percent from non-Heinz brand products.

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Scope and Content Notes

The H.J. Heinz Company Audiovisual Collection is housed in 27 archival boxes and is arranged in four series. Series have been designated for the various media types and formats represented in the collection, including film strips, slides, record albums, film reels, and commercials on video cassettes, open reels, and two DVDs. These materials primarily reflect Heinz marketing activity from 1947 to 2008.

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The H.J. Heinz Company Audiovisual Collection has been divided into the following four series:

  • Series I. Film Strips, 1947-1953
  • Series II. Record Albums, 1950s-1968
  • Series III. Slides, 1900-1997
  • Series IV. Commercials, 1974-2008

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Senator John Heinz History Center Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania , May 11, 2015

Thomas and Katherine Detre Library and Archives
Senator John Heinz History Center
1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Restrictions on Access


Restrictions on Use

Property rights reside with the Senator John Heinz History Center. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the Thomas and Katherine Detre Library and Archives of the Senator John Heinz History Center.

Acquisition Information

These materials were received in seven accessions between 1994 and 2008:

Acc# 1994.0310 Gift of the H.J. Heinz Company

Acc# 2000.0077 Gift of the H.J. Heinz Company

Acc# 2000.0136 Gift of the H.J. Heinz Company

Acc# 2002.0108 Gift of the H.J. Heinz Company

Acc# 2006.0116 Gift of the H.J. Heinz Company

Acc# 2008.0092 Gift of the H.J. Heinz Company

Acc# 2008.0114 Gift of the H.J. Heinz Company

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Craig Moore in 1996.

Additions arranged by Nick Hartley in May, 2015.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Ore-Ida Foods, Inc.
  • StarKist Foods, Inc.
  • Weight Watchers International, Inc.

Geographic Name(s)

  • Greenfield Village (Dearborn, Mi.).

Personal Name(s)

  • Heinz, Howard John II, 1909-1987


  • Advertising--Food--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh.
  • Food--Labeling--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh.
  • Food--Packaging--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh.
  • Food--Transportation--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh.
  • Food Conservation--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh.
  • Food Container Industry--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh.
  • Food Industry and Trade--Employees--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh.
  • Food Industry and Trade--Equipment and Supplies--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh.
  • Food Industry and Trade--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh
  • Food Processing Plants--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh.
  • Food Research--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh.

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Collection Inventory

Series 1 Film Strips 1947-1953 (box 1) 

Scope and Content Notes

Series one contains 21 film strips pertaining to sales conventions, quality control instruction, and promotional material from 1947 to 1953. The film strips are arranged chronologically.

"The 57 Story" - 1247038   1947 11

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Series 2 Record Albums  1950s-1968 (box 2) 

Scope and Content Notes

Series two contains nine phonograph records of Heinz-sponsored cooking and housekeeping programs from the 1950s and 1960s, including Katie’s Kitchen, Around the House, and RCA Victor’s Best of “57.”

"Baby Sitting"   n.d. 21

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Series 3 Slides  1900-1997 (boxes 3-4; 26-27) 

Scope and Content Notes

Series three contains photographic slides depicting the Heinz factory, products, sales presentations, and advertisements. The first five cartons of slides are arranged in chronological order according to their identification number. These slides are indexed along with the Heinz Photographic Collection (MSP 57 Series II, subseries 1) in a subject card file.

1900002-1257018   1900-1957 31
Unidentified   n.d. 41
Weight Watchers   1989-1997 26
USA, Canada; Baby Food, Bakery   1990-1997 271

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Series 4 Commercials  1974-2008 (boxes 5-25) 

Scope and Content Notes

Series four contains 19 linear feet of Heinz commercials, primarily between 1984 and 2006. In addition to advertisements for products associated with the Heinz name, such as ketchup, 57 sauce, and chili sauce, there are many commercials related to Heinz-owned Weight Watchers, Ore-Ida, and StarKist. While many of the commercials were created and aired in the United States, others were created for markets in Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. The series is arranged into subseries according to the following media formats: VHS cassettes (boxes 7-11; 25), BetacamSP cassettes (boxes 11-15; 24-25), U-matic cassettes (boxes 16-21), open-reels (boxes 5-6; 21-24), and DVDs (box 24). The open-reel materials are typically either master copies or audio dubs. There are two DVDs: one containing commercials for an analyst meeting (2007) and another containing a promotional video that played on a continuous loop in the lobby of the Heinz word headquarters building (2008). Each of the subseries is arranged chronologically.

Subseries 1 VHS Cassettes 1988-2002 

Heinz Central Europe (Belgium)   1988 71

Section: Heinz commercial compilations  

Section: Commercials by country  

Section: Weight Watchers  

"Barbara Cross"   1993 81

Section: Commercials by country  

Section: Commercials by country  

Road Show commercials revised   1995 91

Section: Commercials by country  

Heinz TVC “Greatest Mom” (PAL)   n.d. 2518
India; 4 spots (PAL)   1998 101
“This is a Potato” (NY Analyst meeting)   2000 111

Subseries 2 BetacamSP Cassettes 1988-2002 

Hungary - "Keskemeti Bebirtel FF"   1995 121
Spain - "Orlando"   1996 131
“King of the Yard”; “Dough Throw”   1998 251
Asia/John Crawford Presentations   n.d. 141
Baked beans, Basketball, Watties   2002 151
Ketchup Kickers, 5 spots   n.d. 241

Subseries 3 U-Matic Cassettes 1984-1998 

Shareholders meeting - Year of the Operator; "AJFOR Closing"   1984 161
Japan - "Oisha no Himitsu" (Demi Glaze Sauce)   1989 171
Weight Watchers - "Mystery" (Yogurt)   1989 181
Central Europe - “Spagheroni "version 21"   1991 191
United States - "Heinz reel: USA Today Speech"  1993 201
Italy - Filmati Plasmon (3 spots)  1996 211

Subseries 4 Open-Reel Formats 1974-1998 

"Heinz Salsa Dailies"   n.d. 51
"Heinz Salsa" (4 reels)   n.d. 61
Heinz World Wide Commercials shown at Growth Forum (mix audio)  1988 21shelf
Total Quality Management: Intro and Overview of Costs (master)   c.1992 221
New Zealand - "Golden Heart" (PAL Dub) Tegel Chicken  1993 231
Heinz Pet Foods - Kibbles ‘N Bits (master)   1995 241

Subseries 5 DVDs  2007-2008 

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