The Story of the Pickle Pin

A Man Who Found Himself in a Pickle Was Saved By One

Pickle-Pins-exhibitA t the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, H.J. Heinz was discouraged by poor visitor attendance and an obscure location for his Heinz Company exhibit. In a moment of desperation, he headed to the nearest print shop and had small white cards made to look like a baggage check printed, then distributed the cards to the crowd. The cards promised a free souvenir to anyone visiting the Heinz Company exhibit. By the thousands, visitors flocked to the Heinz display on the second floor of the Agricultural Building to sample Heinz foods and receive their free souvenir: a green (gutta-percha) pickle one and one quarter inches long, bearing the name “Heinz” and equipped with a hook to serve as a charm on a watch chain.


So many visitors responded to the souvenir offer, fair officials had to summon policemen to regulate the size of the crowds and the supports of the floor had to be strengthened. The promotion was a huge success for Heinz. The Company gave away 1 million Heinz pickle pinsĀ at the fair. When it was all over, the New York Times even reported on the spectacle that the tiny pickle caused.
H.J’s innovative solution to the Chicago Fair problem, was simply demonstrating his Sixth Important Idea – “let the public assist you in advertising your products and promoting your name.” The Pickle Pin has carried out that idea so well that Arthur Baum, an editor for the Saturday Evening Post, called the pin “one of the most famous giveaways in merchandising history.”

While theĀ Pickle Pin has donned some slightly different looks over the years, it remains a constant reminder of the Kraft Heinz Company’s heritage and legacy of innovative marketing.

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