How HJ Heinz Turned His Bankrupt Horseradish Business Into A Billion Dollar Ketchup Conglomerate

Heinz Ketchup

Photo: AP

Earlier, today Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway announced it and 3G Capital would acquire HJ Heinz Company in a transaction worth a whopping $28 billion.HJ Heinz, the son of immigrant parents, built this this company from scratch.

After falling to bankruptcy, Heinz came back to rebuild a company that would eventually gross over $11 billion in sales per year.

Henry J. Heinz was one of eight children, born to parents who emigrated from Kallstadt, Germany to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Source: Princeton

When Heinz turned six, he began helping his mother with her garden (1850).

Source: Heinz

By age eight, Henry began selling goods to neighbours out of a basket he would carry around (1852).

Source: Heinz

When he was nine, Henry was grinding and making his own horseradish sauce — it was his mother's recipe (1853)

Demand was so strong, Heinz began to use a horse and cart to deliver his goods by age 12 (1856).

Source: Heinz

At 16, Heinz began making three weekly deliveries to Pittsburgh, Penn (1860).

Source: Heinz

By the time he was 25, Heinz had formed his first company with a friend. It was named Heinz Noble & Company (1869)

Source: Heinz

Their first product sold was horseradish (1869).

Source: Heinz

But in just a few years they went bankrupt and shut down. Heinz quickly formed a new business with his cousin, the F & J Heinz Co. (1875).

Source: Heinz

In 1876 they began selling ketchup and the company took off.

Source: Heinz

In 1888, Henry bought out his family members and launched a major factory along the Allegheny.

In 1896 Heinz added the 57 to the bottle, after seeing a shoe store advertise 21 styles of shoes. Although he was selling more than 60 products at the time, Heinz thought 57 was lucky

Source: Heinz

Today, Heinz sells more than 650 million bottles of ketchup every year, as well as baked beans and tomato sauce...

Source: Heinz

Since Henry's passing, two other Heinz men have run the company

William Johnson (pictured), is the company's sixth CEO (and only the third to not have a relation to the Heinz family). Source: Heinz

...which requires 2 million tons of tomatoes — more than any other company.

Source: Heinz

Bonus: Ketchup moves out of its glass bottles at .028 miles per hour, and if you hit the 57 it'll move faster

Source: Heinz

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