Trump’s Ketchup Connection

Make Hamburgers Great Again

Like any good red-blooded American man, Donald Trump loves his ketchup.

Whether dousing it on a well-done T-bone steak or White House walls, he can’t get enough of the sticky red stuff.

In fact, if the White House kitchen cupboards were ever bare of this condiment, all hell could break loose. Termed “Code Red” by some White House staff, and “Ketchup-Gate” by others, no one ever wanted to be at the receiving end of not having an octagon-shaped glass bottle of Heinz on hand.

Not unlike another disgraced U.S. President who went ballistic if he didn’t get his ketchup fix.

Richard Nixon was a devotee of cottage cheese drizzled with ketchup.

Nixon once sent his staff on a frantic search driving around DC in a limo the night before his inauguration in search of cottage cheese, the all-important base for his ketchup fix.

Red Magic

And it had to be Heinz.

Like most Americans, the only ketchup of choice is Heinz.

It was Red Magic!

But Trump had more in common with Henry Heinz than just their love of the bottled tomato concoction.

Henry J Heinz was a marketing genius, the only talent that some say Donald J. Trump can actually lay claim to. They both could read the pulse of the public and their needs.

 

During the last few years of the 1890s, Henry Heinz repeatedly showed his genius for promoting his company, rarely missing an opportunity to raise customer awareness for his line of packaged foods.

Like Trump, Heinz was a world-class promoter, whose schemes were innovative and often flamboyant.

And who may have toyed with the truth on occasion if it helped sell his product.

As a brand, Heinz has been linked to the number “57” for more than a century.

The company’s “57 varieties” slogan was a key part of its early strategy to attract consumers. It’s still featured on Heinz ketchup bottles today and is central to the brand’s identity.

But that famous number is completely made up.

Fake news.

There weren’t 57 varieties when Henry Heinz first invented the slogan in 1896.

There aren’t 57 now. There are, in fact, hundreds of Heinz varieties.

Henry Heinz just liked the sound of the number.

Vintage Heinz ad 1919

Visiting New York City in 1896, Henry Heinz spotted an advertisement for “21 styles” of shoes. He found it memorable and thought attaching a number to his own brand would help it stick with consumers. He thought of the many different foods he sold. He knew there were more than sixty. But, he thought the number fifty-seven sounded right.

Perfect.

Henry knew he had a new slogan for his company: “Heinz 57 Varieties.”  He said that the word “varieties” was added underneath because Americans love choices. And his product would be quintessentially American

Within a week of seeing the shoe ad, the sign of the green pickle with the  “57 varieties'” slogan was appearing in newspapers, on billboards, and everywhere he could find a place to stick it.  The phrase “Heinz 57” was even spelled out in concrete blocks on several hills across the country for train passengers to see.

Full Transparency

Heinz, though, didn’t want people to merely see his company name and slogan.

He wanted them to learn just how special his foods were and give people a fun way to sample and buy them.  This was a time when people were wary of packaged and processed foods and he assured customers his products were safe during an era before food was regulated. One way he conveyed quality was to sell his goods in glass jars so customers could see what was inside.

Vintage postcard Heinz Pier Atlantic City

Vintage postcard Heinz Pier Atlantic City

In 1898, he bought a pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The seaside resort drew visitors to its beach and the famous wooden boardwalk built on top of it.

He would be infinitely more successful in Atlantic City than Trump ever would

The Heinz Ocean Pier, also called “The Crystal Palace by the Sea” or “The Sea Shore Home of the 57 Varieties,” was a popular attraction from 1899 to 1944.

Visitors could attend demonstrations and lectures, obtain free samples of Heinz products, relax in a rocking chair in the reading room, or view the collection of art and curiosities since the main area of the pavilion contained an exhibition of 144 paintings, bronzes, tapestries, and curios some of which had been shown at the Columbian World Exposition.

New York, New York

Heinz Electric sign- Broadway and 23rd Street, NYC

Trump may have plastered his name on buildings all over N.Y.C. but in 1900 Henry Heinz outshone him in publicity. Henry continued his flair for advertising and his interest in the latest technology when he erected the first electric display sign in Manhattan.

More than 1,000 lights flashed an ad for his Atlantic City pier, along with his famous “57 Varieties” slogan. The massive sign stood six stories, used 1,200 incandescent lights, and was topped with a 43-foot-long flashing Heinz pickle.

It was a Trump-worthy spectacle.

H.J. Heinz revealed decades later that he made the 57 varieties all up.

At the dawn of the 20th century, the H. J. Heinz Company was the largest food processing company in the United States. It sold more than 200 products, and people across the company knew and trusted the Heinz brand name.

They still do.

More than you can say about Trump.

6 comments

  1. jefftamarkin

    >>Richard Nixon was a devotee of cottage cheese drizzled with ketchup.<<

    I can't even.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jefftamarkin

    I’m curious if you know why Heinz called it ketchup rather than catsup–and which came first?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ketchup is really an Asian condiment used by Chinese sailors called Ke-tchup in early 16th century which had no tomatoes but was a fish sauce. British settlers adapted it but it was close to 200 years before it contained tomatoes because tomatoes were considered poisonous by Europeans. They were ornamental not to be eaten. But in the 1830s Americans changed their tune when an Ohio doctor declared tomatoes were a panacea for intestinal problems. Tomato ketchup was concentrated into pill form and sold as patent medicine..It was considered a health tonic. What Heinz did was perfect the purity of his product and he had nothing to hide because he used a clear glass bottle to sell the product. Most commercial ketchup lacked consistency and quality assurance using very questionable additives. Heinz gained a reputation for delivering an unadulterate product.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great blog….very informative and great visuals!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. jefftamarkin

    Totally fascinating, thanks! I put ketchup on my fries but C hates it! It’s second only to mayonnaise in her list of evils. I knew you would know!

    Like

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