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H. K. & F. B. Thurber & Co.

Americans involved in expeditions and military campaigns had used canned food since the 1840s. However, the general public’s demand for it increased slowly only between 1870 and 1900. Canned food was expensive until the process for mass-producing cans from tin was invented in 1880. In addition, consumers were wary of buying food they could not see, smell, or taste before purchase.

H. K. & F. B. Thurber & Co. (New York), c. 1875–1884. Chromolithographed trade card, (2 5/8 x 4 ¾ in). Printed by Forbes Co., Boston. [verso]

H. K. & F. B. Thurber & Co. (New York), c. 1875–1884. Chromolithographed food label, (between 4 1/8 x 6 in and 3 x 5 ¼ in). Or view individuals labels for corn, plums, lima beans, beans, preserved strawberries, succotash, peas, marrow peas, Baldwin tomato, orange quince, grapes, peaches, cherries, white cherries, pears and apricots.


Horace K. and Francis B. Thurber launched a new iteration of their food manufacturing company, H. K. & F. B. Thurber & Co., in 1875, locating their canning operations in Moorestown, New Jersey. One of the H. K. & F. B. Thurber & Co. trade cards featured here attempts to win over potential customers by insisting:

“Our Canned Goods … being hermetically sealed while fresh at the sources of supply, preserve the fresh, natural flavors, and are really fresher, more wholesome and palatable than many so-called ‘fresh’ articles which are exposed for sale during considerable periods of time in city markets.”

They underscored the “freshness” they so adamantly advertised by using color-saturated labels featuring illustrations of beautifully ripe vegetables and fruits.



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