Campbell’s Soup, serving it up for over 150 years
As the temperatures dipped a bit this week it made me reflect on the warming lunch I used to get when I was a kid. Nothing beat a grilled cheese sandwich and a hot bowl of Campbell’s tomato soup.
That was such a great lunch. I remember eating it slowly so I could savor the taste; that was the only meal I savored. Everything else never had a chance, gone in seconds, devoured, sometimes whole entire meals in seconds.
There was an art to enjoying my grilled cheese and Campbell’s tomato soup, I alternated the taste, a bite of grilled cheese then a spoonful of soup then repeat the process until all you had left was a final spoonful of tomato soup. That would have to be the final taste in your mouth.
Many of us know that Campbell's Soup is a Jersey company that was started and still headquartered in Camden, NJ. It’s been a successful company for over 151 years with annual sales of over eight billion dollars a year. Over the years Campbell's Soup has acquired many different small companies and piggy backed their success with the Campbell's Soup branding and distribution. Brands like Pepperidge Farm, V8, Snyder Snacks, Prego, Swanson’s and so many more.
Campbell Soup was started by Joseph Campbell who was a fruit merchant from Bridgeton, New Jersey and Abraham Anderson who was an icebox maker from South Jersey; they opened their first plant in Camden, New Jersey in 1869.
Anderson would leave the company and John Dorrance an MIT graduate working at Campbell’s for $7.50 a week as a chemist developed a condensed soup, tomato, that changed the food industry. He would later become president of the company after a buyout of the Campbell family.
The bold red and white label came after a Campbell’s executive attended the Cornell – Penn football game in 1898 and admired the new brilliant red and white uniforms of Cornell. The label was changed that year.
The gold medallion that you see in the center of the can was added after Campbell’s won the gold medal for product excellence at the Paris Exposition in 1900.
Of course the Campbell’s tomato soup can became a cultural icon when Andy Warhol made a pop art silkscreen of the can in 1962. Warhol experimented with reverse coloring and other color schemes while keeping the iconic soup can the constant subject. The silk-screens were a big hit. One of the originals from 1962 fetched an incredible 11.2 million dollars at auction in 2006.
I’m a loyal brand guy, if I use a product that works and remains true to its integrity, I’ll stick with that brand forever. Campbell’s Soup does that for me. Oh and as far as the controversy whether you use milk or water making tomato soup, I use milk, makes it ever so creamy. Enjoy that grilled cheese and remember to save the last spoonful of soup to finish the experience.