Henry J. Heinz began packing foodstuffs on a small scale at Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1869. There he founded Heinz Noble & Company with a friend, L. Clarence Noble, and began marketing horseradish. The first product in Heinz and Noble's new Anchor Brand (a name selected for its biblical meaning of hope) was his mother Anna Heinz's recipe for horseradish. The young Heinz manufactured it in the basement of his father's former house.
In 1888, Heinz bought out his two partners and reorganized the company as the H. J. Heinz Company. Its slogan, "57 varieties", was introduced by Heinz in 1896. Inspired by an advertisement he saw while riding an elevated train in New York City (a shoe store boasting "21 styles"), Heinz picked the number more or less at random because he liked the sound of it, selecting "7" specifically because, as he put it, of the "psychological influence of that figure and of its enduring significance to people of all ages."
In 1905, H. J. Heinz was incorporated, and Heinz served as its first president, holding that position for the rest of his life. Under his leadership, the company pioneered processes for sanitary food preparation, and led a successful lobbying effort in favor of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906. In 1908 he established a processing plant in Leamington, Ontario, Canada for tomatoes and other products. Heinz operated it until 2014, when it was sold.
Heinz was a pioneer in both scientific and "technological innovations to solve problems like bacterial contamination." He personally worked to control the "purity of his products by managing his employees", offering hot showers and weekly manicures for the women handling food. During World War I, he worked with the Food Administration.
In 1930, Howard Heinz, son of Henry Heinz, helped to fight the downturn of the Great Depression by selling ready-to-serve quality soups and baby food. They became top sellers. During World War II, "Jack" Heinz led the company as president and CEO to aid the United Kingdom and offset food shortages. Its plant in Pittsburgh was converted for a time to manufacture gliders for the War Department.
In the postwar years, Jack Heinz expanded the company to develop plants in several nations overseas, greatly expanding its international presence. He also acquired Ore-Ida and Starkist Tuna.
On February 14, 2013, it was announced that Heinz would be purchased by Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital for $23 billion. Including debt assumption the transaction was valued at $28 billion. According to Heinz, the deal was the largest in food industry history. Berkshire Hathaway and 3G would each own half of Heinz, with 3G running the company. Berkshire and 3G paid $72.50 a share. The acquisition was completed in June of that year.
On March 25, 2015, Kraft Foods Group Inc. announced that it would merge with the H.J. Heinz Company, owned by 3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway Inc., to form the world's fifth-largest food and beverage company. The companies completed the merger on July 2, 2015.