The sign on top of Pittsburgh's Heinz History Center. The ketchup "pours out" in red lights. (Photo credit: Alex …
Heinz was born 169 years ago, on Oct. 11, 1844, and he started his company in 1869. So how did the number 57 become so important? And "57 varieties" of what, anyway?
Turns out the phrase "57 varieties" was inspired by a sign he'd seen advertising 21 styles of shoes. The idea of quantifying a claim appealed to his now-renowned marketing instincts, so he picked what he considered a lucky number to indicate how many products his company made. He was actually understating his output; he already manufactured more than five dozen products.
He died in 1919, 50 years after starting his first company. His management style is said to have made his company "a pioneer in labor relations": Among worker perks were free manicures and rooftop gardens.
To cap off our mini-tribute to Heinz, here's a little ketchup tip courtesy of his company: The best way to get the ketchup out of the bottle is to "apply a firm tap to the sweet spot on the neck of the bottle -- the '57.'"
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