The ability to preserve food in cans had a profound effect on our diet and our economy.  For one thing, it gave birth to the can-opener industry.  Also, it provided variety to our diet, and, in the belief of the founder of Borden’s, helped mitigate cannibalism.

Nicholas Appert, a French national, developed a process for vacuum-packed hermetically sealed jars for food, by 1809 (an Appert Canning jar above).  This is a logo mark registered by the Underwood company to commemorate him.

Alpert’s method was kept a secret, however by 1830, William Underwood had duplicated the technique, and switched from glass jars to tin cans.  He obtained what some claim is the first U.S. registered trademark for deviled ham.

and looks like this today:


This is one registered version of the early design:


Gail Borden was another early entrepreneur in canned food.  Reportedly shocked by the cannibalism in the Donner Party disaster of 1846, he set about developing methods of condensing food.  And so he developed condensed milk, which was patented in 1856.  Here is an early logo:

which you can still buy:


The Civil War provided a market for canned food.  Joining these pioneers were Van Camp, which, before it sold Gatorade, sold pork and beans.


It also branched into canned tuna:


And providing the ready-made sauce for these canned foods was Lea & Perrins:

And for the do-it-yourself crowd, the Mason Jar was invented in 1859 by John Landis Mason.  However the best known trademark in Mason Jars today is Ball:


This blog post is a work in progress, and was inspired by The Rise and Fall of American Growth by Robert J. Gordon