Catalog Number
Date of Origin
5.5 in.
Yellow program with black letters.  On the front, the following caption appears"Heinz 57 26th Annual Heinz Picnic For the Holland Factory Employees Families and Friends/Held at Tunnel Park/Saturday, July 16, 1949".
The following history of the Heinz plant in Holland comes from Robert Swierenga's book Holland, Michigan: From Dutch Colony to Dynamic City, pages 1118-11123.

"Pickles—H. J. Heinz Company
Pickles (actually cucumbers) were a choice complement to sugar beets, because pickles ripened in the summer and the tubers in the fall. Cultivating cucumbers fit well into farmers’ work schedules, and the entire family could help in the harvest, although the children complained that the “lousy pickles” chafed and stained their hands.71 Pickles were never subject to a powerful cartel and congressional tariff tinkering as was sugar. Cucumbers got a big boost in 1896 when the H. J. Heinz Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania sent an agent to West Michigan to find a suitable location for building another processing factory, as a companion to its successful Benton Harbor plant. Zeeland and Grand Rapids worked feverishly to secure the new plant, but in the end the company selected Holland, thanks to its ideal soils, a harbor with ready access to Chicago, and the masterful “selling job” by a local committee of leading citizens, which included William Beach, Walter Walsh, Gerrit J. Diekema, Arend Visscher, John Zwemer, Oscar E. Yates, and Jan W. Garvelink. For weeks, the joint venture between the business and agricultural interests of Holland was the topic of the day among the city’s seven thousand residents and in every outlying village.72 Heinz, however, would build its new salting house in Holland, only if local farmers would pledge to plant three hundred acres of cucumbers and sell at 30¢ per bushel. By the second week of 1897, over two hundred farmers had pledged from one to ten acres each, for a total of over five hundred acres. The lure was the prospect that raising pickles would yield better profits than beets or cultivating grains, and the company would furnish the seeds. The plant would also call for tomatoes and cauliflower. Zwemer and George Souter, the celery king, led the effort, which far surpassed the minimum, and Heinz came to town. City leaders helped the firm find a suitable site on Wiepke Diekema’s property at the city’s southern border on Fifteenth Street along the south shore of Black Lake. And they obtained a commitment from the Chicago & West Michigan Railway to build a rail spur to the plant at no expense to Heinz. The company also demanded that the $800 cost of the two-acre parcel be donated. The local committee turned to the participating farmers, who stood to benefit, and made them take out personal bonds equal to $2.50 per acre under contract. Railroad companies used this same tactic to raise construction monies by forcing towns and cities along the projected right-of-way to take on bonded debt. No money, no railroad. The historic location of Salting House No. 16 was the famous Landing on Lake Macatawa at which Chief Joseph Wakazoo’s Ottawa Indian band had built a village in the early 1840s, complete with a chapel and burial grounds (chapter 1).73 Within a year, in 1898, Heinz decided to expand its Holland operations and build a three-story factory. They demanded that participating farmers again bond themselves at $2.50 for every acre under contract to raise $2,500 for another three acres of land at the Sixteenth Street site and a suitable lake dock with five hundred feet frontage and extended into deep water. The farmers, who had quickly grown dependent on the Heinz payments, willingly complied. The plant expansion would allow processing of tomato ketchup, cauliflower, and vinegar from the abundant apple crop of the region. In the next decade, the company expanded south to Sixteenth Street with eight new buildings, all constructed at company expense. This was just the beginning. During the green season, farmers delivered up to 3,500 bushels of pickles a day and received checks for thousands of dollars. Every 3,000 bushels brought farmers $1,200, or 40¢ a bushel, but farmers every year clamored for more. By 1913 the firm agreed to pay the magic number of $1 per bushel; farmers got “dollar pickles” before “dollar wheat.”74 In the 1920s Heinz opened salting stations in Zeeland, Hudsonville, Harlem, and West Olive. The entire region benefited from the initiative of Holland business leaders in landing the first “foreign” company. Heinz deserves full credit for developing the pickle industry in Holland. Without the firm’s initiative, local farmers might never have considered cultivating cucumbers. The Holland plant became the second largest of sixteen in the Heinz system, and in 1913, the company concentrated all its brine pickling tanks there. The death of the company founder, H. J. Heinz, in 1919 did not alter the rising prospects of the Holland operations.75 By the 1920s West Michigan was the cucumber capitol of America, and Holland was the pickle capitol, since the Holland plant was the largest pickle processor in the world. When agriculture fell on hard times, the company resumed an early practice of wooing farmers by treating them to a free luncheon, tours of the plant, and lectures by experts on raising pickles. The annual winter fete attracted over one thousand farmers and proved a very successful means to “build a bond of friendship” between farmers and the company. This winter dinner was in addition to the traditional summer picnic at Jenison Park for employees and contract farmers. In 1929 local farmers raised over five million bushels of pickles, a yield of $300 per acre. Heinz paid a going rate of $3.25 per 100 pounds for #1 pickles (5-12 inches) and $1.00 per 100 for the smaller #2 grade, delivered to the plant. Pickles proved to be among the most profitable cash crops locally for many decades. Best of all, consumers increasingly favored dill pickles and demand exceeded supply.76 Even the Great Depression did not stunt the steady expansion of the local Heinz plant, which operated at full capacity under the able management of James A. Hoover. Heinz provided steady work for two hundred employees, and pickles enabled many a local farmer to survive the hard years. In 1936 Heinz expanded across Lake Macatawa by buying a former gelatin factory for a distribution center and storage. The next year Heinz added a $100,000 building at its main plant, which was the biggest construction project in the city that year.
Besides the impact on the bottom line for farmers, the kraut factory and salting house provided year-round employment for around one hundred men, and up to eleven hundred (mostly young) women in the green season. During the Second World War the federal government allowed interstate companies to hire teens during the summer, and Heinz took advantage of the waiver. Even German prisoners of war from the camp in Allegan were put to work. Processing companies like Holland-St. Louis Sugar and Heinz provided blue-collar workers, including sons and daughters of farmers, with steady factory work in the city. The companies also spurred spin-off jobs in the construction trades, in the skilled crafts, such as coopers to make barrels and vats, and in cartage.

When the labor shortage continued after the war, Heinz hired white migrants, derisively dubbed “hillbillies,” from Kentucky and other southern states. They had to work alongside Hispanics from Texas, who had traditionally picked sugar beets, pickles, fruits, tomatoes, and other vegetables. Holland counted nearly one hundred white migrant laborers in 1947 and many more Mexicans. In 1951 Heinz and its contract growers employed 2,800 Mexican laborers throughout Michigan; all came on six-month work visas. That year Heinz planned to erect an emergency housing camp for its migrant workers on 144th Avenue south of Riley Street, which was near its pickle fields. This riled up northside residents, who formed a committee to meet with the plant manager. After several meetings, Heinz scuttled the plan for its “employee city,” much to the satisfaction of the locals.
Gift of
Dykstra, Bob