Founded by Benjamin Heller, whose family practiced sausage-making for generations, Chicago-based B. Heller & Co. began in 1893 as a wholesale manufacturer of dry powders used in the preparation of meat products. Eager to take advantage of new developments in food science and chemistry as well as his skills as a salesman, Benjamin Heller was the quintessential American entrepreneur. Over the years, the company expanded into the manufacture of a variety of food ingredients, as well as insecticides, cleaning agents, and a broad range of kitchen and office supplies. The company continues today as Heller Seasonings & Ingredients, a wholesale supplier based in Chicago.
The B. Heller & Co. Collection was assembled by Americana collectors Sally and Herb Loeb; Benjamin Heller was Sally Loeb's grandfather. The Loebs presented a collection of sample labels, publicity material, business records and photographs to the University of Chicago, which also acquired a selection of packaging materials. This exhibition features a sampling from the B. Heller & Co. Collection, which is a marvelous resource for students of advances in food technology, as well as developments in product marketing and design in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Maija Anderson, Processing Archivist
Robin Secco, Archives and Manuscripts Accessions Manager
Special Collections Research Center
This Web exhibit is based on the exhibit "Highlighting New Collections: B. Heller & Co. Collection" which was on view in the Special Collections Research Center, the University of Chicago Library, March - June 2009. The B. Heller & Co. Collection was assembled by Americana collectors Sally and Herb Loeb. Selections from their collection are now held at the Special Collections Research Center. The exhibit was curated by Maija Anderson, Processing Archivist, and developed in coordination with Robin LaCombe Secco, Archives and Manuscripts Accessions Manager.
There was no publication for this exhibit.
This Web site was created in the summer of 2009 with a templating system developed by Marc Gasser, Digital Library Development Center (DLDC), University of Chicago Library, with input from Alice Schreyer, Director, Special Collections Research Center (SCRC); Daniel Meyer, Associate Director, SCRC; Elisabeth Long, Co-director, DLDC; and Kerri Sancomb, Exhibit Specialist, SCRC. Photography for exhibit banner and Web site by Mike Kenny, Photographer, Preservation Department; Web site design by Marc Gasser and Kerri Sancomb.
In its capacity as owner of the physical property represented in this Web exhibit, the University of Chicago Library encourages the use of these materials for educational and scholarly purposes.
Some documents, texts, and images included in "Highlighting New Collections: B. Heller & Co. Collection" are subject to U. S. copyright law. It is the user's sole responsibility to secure any necessary copyright permission to publish documents, texts, and images from any holders of rights in these materials.
Use of these materials for publication in any medium also requires the permission of the University of Chicago Library. Use of materials for commercial publication projects may be subject to a use fee. Please consult the policies of the Special Collections Research Center: http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/spcl/research/permissions.html
For further information on reproduction of materials from the Special Collections Research Center, contact: the Special Collections Research Center.
1. Zanzibar Brand spice container, ink thinner bottle, label and pamphlets, circa 1896-1921.
Benjamin Heller named his first major brand "Zanzibar," attracted by the exotic sound of the word. He first applied it to the meat additive "Zanzibar Carbon." The brand was later extended to a diverse range of products, from spices to ink thinner. In a 1909 letter, a representative of B. Heller & Co. responds to a complaint about a Zanzibar-branded laundry agent, urging the customer to try the product again at the manufacturer's risk.
2. Insecticide containers, labels and pamphlet, circa 1900-1948.
Household and industrial cleaning products such as insecticides were an important secondary line of B. Heller & Co. offerings; many of these were marketed under the "$1,000.00 Guaranteed" brand. Promotional literature was often scientific in tone, as in a pamphlet for "Dr. Heller's" Liquid Bug Killer and Roach Food.
3.Bull-Meat-Brand Flour box and pamphlets, circa 1923.
Secrets of Meat Curing and Sausage Making. Chicago: B. Heller & Co., 1928.
Bull-Meat-Brand Flour, used in sausage making, was one of B. Heller & Co.'s popular meat additives. Their meat products were promoted in Secrets of Meat Curing and Sausage Making, which also contains recipes, butchering instructions, and advice on compliance with new federal food regulations.
4. Ice cream additives pamphlets, circa 1909-1921
The development of stabilizers and thickeners such as "Meloine" and "Snow" contributed to rapid expansion of the ice cream industry in the early 20th century. The company also supplied this growth industry with Heller's Guide for Ice Cream Makers, which includes hundreds of recipes using the company's products.
5. Product development notes and formulas, 1918-1919
Formulas for products such as "Pink Mist," "Golden Shine," and "Snow Drift," are recorded in this notebook, along with notes on manufacturing procedures and product development.