B. Heller & Co. Collection, 1896-2003
- TitleGuide to the B. Heller & Co. Collection1896-2003
- PublisherUniversity of Chicago Library
- Physical Description7.75 linear feet (8 boxes)
- RepositorySpecial Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.
- AbstractFounded 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. 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 B. Heller & Co. Collection spans 1896-2003 and documents advances in food technology, marketing, and product design during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The collection includes samples of products and packaging, ephemera, publications, business records and photographs.
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Advertising and Publicity
Chicago and Illinois
When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: B. Heller & Co. Collection, [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library
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.
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. 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. Sanitary 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.
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 B. Heller & Co. Collection includes packaging samples, publicity material, business records and photographs spanning 1896-2003, with the bulk of materials concentrated in the 1890-1930s. The collection is divided into five series:
Series I: Products and Packaging, consists of artifacts and ephemera that were used to package or promote B. Heller & Co. products, as well as a small number of product samples. Items in this series include containers, boxes, product samples, container labels, pamphlets, circulars, and catalogs. Well-represented are the Heller brands "$1000.00 Guaranteed" and "Zanzibar."
Series II: Company Publications, contains books and guides published by B. Heller & Co. Most are recipe books and other instructional guides. There are copies of several editions of Secrets of Meat Curing and Sausage Making.
Series III: Business Records, contains material related to product development, customer relations, and employees. This series includes correspondence, notes, corrected proofs of container labels and pamphlets, banquet programs, and payment slips. Of particular interest is a sample mailing for a "$1000.00 Guaranteed" advertising campaign; the mailing shows how promotional items were marketed to Heller's target customers. There are also notebooks that contain chemical formulas and other product development documentation. This series also contains promotional material produced by two other Chicago companies, Seymour & Peck co., and Sidney Wanzer and Sons.
Series IV: Photographs, contains one photograph of an African woman and girl in traditional dress. The photograph may be related to the design of graphics for the "Zanzibar" brand, which used exoticized and sensationalized images of Africans. It also includes an album of photographs of B. Heller & Co. facilities; the album was originally intended to promote "Bull Meat Brand" products. Additional photographs of B. Heller & Co. facilities and personnel are found in the company's publications and pamphlets, and in secondary research material in Series V.
Series V: Historical Publications, contains secondary material on B. Heller & Co. There are multiple copies of a 2001 issue of Past Times: A Newsletter for Collectors of Popular and Antique Advertising, which focused on B. Heller & Co. Also included are copies of Well Seasoned: A Centennial History of Heller Seasonings & Ingredients, Inc., published in 1993. A copy of Auction News documenting the Wanzer Dairy is also included in this series.
The following related resources are located in the Department of Special Collections:
- Heller, Benjamin
- B. Heller & Co.
- Cleaning compounds
- Food additives
- Food industry and trade
- Immigrants -- America -- History
- Industrial design