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THROWBACK THURSDAY: All You Need is One Good Idea: Campbell’s Soup Company

While Andy Warhol can be credited for establishing the classic Campbell’s soup can as an iconographic pop art emblem, he never campbells warholwould would have appropriated its imagery had it not already been iconic in its own right. That familiar red and white-labeled can has been on grocery store shelves since the turn of the 20th century, making it one of America’s most widely-recognized food products, ranking right up there with Oreos and Coca-Cola. Not much has changed in the last 120 years, which is to say, if it ain’t broke…don’t fix it.

The Campbell Soup Company’s founder Dr. John Thompson Dorrance completed his Ph.D in Chemistry in 1897 at MIT and Germany’s University of Goettingen, and later that year went to work for the Joseph Campbell Preserve Company in Philadelphia where his uncle Arthur Dorrance was a partner. The company had been established in 1869 by Joseph A. Campbell, a fruit merchant from Bridgeton, New Jersey, and Abraham Anderson, an icebox manufacturer from South Jersey. They produced canned tomatoes, vegetables, jellies, soups, condiments, and minced meats. campbell's soup boy

John Dorrance invented condensed soup there in 1899 when there were only two other soup companies in the U.S., who shipped soup in heavy, bulky cans which created problems in distribution, display and consumer use. Dorrance’s process developed a commercially viable method for condensing soup by halving the quantity of its heaviest ingredient: water; it was an immediate and rousing success. This innovation helped Campbell quickly outstrip its two soup-canning competitors – it was able to ship and sell its product at one-third the cost. campbellas first cansThere were five original varieties: Tomato, Consommé, Vegetable, Chicken, and Oxtail. By 1904, sales had reached 16 million cans annually; by 1911 the company was selling soup throughout the nation, becoming one of the first to achieve nationwide distribution of a brand name food.

Campbell’s products are now sold in 120 countries around the world with annual sales of $8,000,000,000.

Founder John Dorrance was just 56 years old when he died on Sept. 21, 1930, leaving the third largest estate recorded up to then: $115 million!

{Source: Campbell’s Soup Company online}

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