On This Day In Finance: July 27 - H.J. Heinz Is Incorporated

By Joseph Nguyen | July 24, 2009 AAA

On July 27, 1900, H.J. Heinz, the company famous for its ketchup, was incorporated in Pennsylvania. Heinz manufactures a variety of processed food products ranging from ketchup and sauces to infant food and seafood. Today, Heinz sells it products in over 200 countries across six continents, and commands a sizzling market share of over 50% in its ketchup brand. Initially launched in 1869 by Henry Heinz and L. Clarence Noble, the company was originally called Heinz and Noble, and set the groundwork for the rise of todays giant global condiment maker.

Interestingly, during the war in the 1940s, a shortage of ingredients resulted in no ketchup being sold in the U.K from 1939-1948 - nearly a decade without ketchup! At the time, consumers had to begrudgingly substitute newly introduced salad cream for the famed ketchup. Also, because of the war, the Heinz's Harlesden factory was bombed at least twice in an attempt to cut food supply lines.

The company has been a fairly straightforward operation since incorporation. One of the rare controversies involving the Heinz company came in 2008 when it launched an advertisement campaign for its new New York Deli Mayo product. In the television ad, Heinz showed two men in a typical morning routine: one man prepared for work while the other man (acting as a deli worker) made sandwiches in the kitchen and helped the children prepare for school. The children referred to the deli worker in the ad as 'mom,' and the ad culminates in a brief kiss between the two men as one of them leaves for work. This led to over 200 complaints and pressure for Heinz to pull the ad. It was a no-win situation for Heinz, as pulling the ad caused the gay community to accuse Heinz of being homophobic.

Today, the company trades on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker HNZ, and has a market capitalization greater than $12 billion. (For additional reading, check out our articles 22 Ways To Fight Rising Food Prices and Evaluating Grocery Store Stocks.)

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