Photo: Food Navigator
Heinz has been associated with the number 57 since its emergence over a century ago. The firm’s “57 varieties” promotion was fundamental to its early appeal technique. It’s still placed on Heinz ketchup bottles today and plays a massive role in the brand’s identity.
However, for the consumers’ information, the number is downright made up.
There were no 57 Heinz varieties when Pittsburgh entrepreneur H.J. Heinz initially formulated the slogan in 1896. Nor when H.J. launched Heinz 57 sauce later. There aren’t 57 today. Instead, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of Heinz varieties.
The 57 spot on the Heinz bottle is the right spot to make the ketchup ooze out of the container at 0.028 miles per hour, but aside from that, it is an essential label for Heinz.
The number has been around for 126 years due to its buildup of Heinz as a sentimental and apparent American food brand—the relish you add to your plain hot dog on a sports event or a burger at a summer picnic.
H.J. Heinz was once referred to as a “marketing genius” by a biographer. He sold bottled horseradish, pickles, pepper sauce, ketchup—launched by the giant in 1987, spelled “catsup” and later altered to “ketchup” to make a different name for the product—and some 60 more food items in the early 1890s.
Pickles were Heinz’s most outstanding achievement at that time, and he was later called the “pickle king.”
Heinz saw a commercial for “21 styles” of shoes when exploring New York City in 1896. He discerned it as memorable and believed associating a number to his brand would aid in gaining traction from the customers.
There are many theories on why he ended up choosing the number 57.
In an email, the brand director at Heinz Ashleigh Gibson said that the condiment giant’s founder felt there was something “mystical, magical, and memorable” about the number 57, which was an amalgam of his lucky number—5—and his wife’s lucky number—7.
However, Heinz’s secretary, who had made a biography of his boss, said that when Heinz was computing the number varieties the company sold in 1896, the number seven stuck out to him.
“Seven, seven—there are so many illustrations of the psychological influences of that figure and its alluring significance to people of all ages and races,” Heinz stated, as per the biography. “58 Varieties or 59 Varieties did not appeal at all to me as being equally strong.”
In his diary, Heinz has written that within a week of seeing that shoe commercial, the “57 varieties” slogan was being mentioned in newspapers and on billboards.
“I myself did not realize how highly successful a slogan it was going to be,” said Heinz.