When this subject came to mind for a blog, I remembered watching a John Wayne western filmed in 1948 called “3 Godfathers.” It co-starred Ward Bond. In the movie John Wayne and his compadres were outlaws on the run. They come across a wagon train that was attacked. All were killed except for a woman and her baby. When the woman dies, John Wayne and the rest vow to take care of the child and see it safely across the desert. They find a tin of Carnation milk so they make the baby bottles using that.
I wasn’t sure if canned milk really would’ve been available in the Old West so I checked. Sure enough it could have been.
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.
A lot of these canned goods were sold to settlers out west on the prairie.
The cans were very heavy though 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! 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. Before that they were generic.
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 a kitchen in the U.S. today and not find Campbell’s soup.
So that’s 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?