When this subject came to mind for a blog, I remembered watching a John Wayne western Christmas movie filmed in 1948 called “3 Godfathers.” It co-starred John Wayne and Ward Bond. In the movie John Wayne and his two compadres robbed a bank and were on the run, chased by Ward Bond, the marshal. They come across a wagon train that was attacked. All were killed except for a woman who’d just given birth to a baby boy. When the woman dies, John Wayne and his friends vow to take care of the child and see it safely across the desert to New Jerusalem. They find a few tins of Carnation milk in the wagon and make the baby’s bottles with that. They got so attached to the baby and fought over who’s turn it was to take care of him. It’s an excellent Christmas movie of redemption. I still remember the story even though I was pretty young when I watched it.
Canned milk would’ve been available in the Old West. It was among the first to be widely used.
In 1856, Gail Borden, an American, successfully produced sweetened condensed milk in cans for the first time and was granted a patent. With financial support, he launched the New York Condensed Milk Company in 1857. During the Civil War it was introduced on a large scale.
But to my surprise, canned fruits, vegetables, and some fish and meats were produced in 1812 by a small plant in New York. They were sold in hermetically sealed containers, not tins.
The cans were heavy and difficult to open. At first the only way to open them was with a hammer and chisel. The first can opener came out in 1858 and it was resembled a bayonet and was dangerous to use. I can only imagine how many accidents happened! In 1870 a safer model was introduced however which was a godsend.
Through my research I learned that Del Monte didn’t produce its own brand of peaches until 1892. And Dole didn’t begin until after the turn of the century.
Here’s a list of the first canned foods:
In 1869, Joseph Campbell and Abraham Anderson started the Anderson & Campbell Preserve Company in New Jersey. But Joseph bought Abraham out and the Campbell’s Soup Company was born. They expanded the business to produce ketchup, mustard, and other sauces in addition to soups. And like they say….the rest is history. I doubt you can go into any kitchen in the U.S. today and not find Campbell’s soup.
This is just a glance at a few of the things a pioneer might’ve packed in his wagon when he headed west.
I found this information very surprising. We couldn’t live without canned foods in this day and time. What are your thoughts? How many of you use Campbell’s soup to cook with?
Here’s the official movie trailer if you’d like to watch it.