by Art Chantry:
a while back, somebody posted this stock photo of the iconographic heinz pickle pin on FB™. the copy they wrote waxed poetic about how cool these things are and that they were made for the 1964 new york world’s fair. my reaction was, “hey, the ’64 ny fair didn’t invent those! they made those for the ’62 seattle world’s fair, too”. that east coast world’s fair is always trying to steal the thunder for our world’s fair. but, we came up with the “jetson’s future” before the ny fair by two years. those guys copied US (not the other way around). and you know what? the jetsons did too! the’ 62 seattle world’s fair and all it’s wild jetsons architecture actually pre-dates the jetsons tv show and acted as inspiration for it. no joke! and the ’62 seattle fair was also the very last world’s fair to actually turn a profit. beat that, NY!
in reality, heinz pickle company didn’t create the legendary fabulous heinz pickle pin for either of those worlds fairs. they created it for the 1893 chicago world’s fair (“the world columbia exposition”). founder h. j. heinz came up with the idea and they made the first pickle pins out of an early mouldable material other than plastic (which won’t be invented for almost another 50 years). so, those pickle pins actually pre-date PLASTIC!
these pickel pins have been such a huge success that heinz makes them and distributes them (for free) at every major fair since 1893. in that process, H.J. Heinz actually invented a whole new field of advertising and marketing – SWAG! yup, the humble heinz pickle pin is credited with being the very first piece of actual advertising swag given away to the masses. every t-shirt, frisbee, ballpoint pen and funny hat every forced onto your person since then is because of the pickle pin. who knew, eh?
pickle pins have proven so popular over the last three centuries (!) that the heinz company has given away over 1 million pickle pins a year since it’s creation. how many pins is that exactly? more than actual pickles heinz has sold? do the math…
my question: where did they all go?
AC:ok, i feel compelled to tell my “pickle thumper” story: back in my derelict teenage daze, a lot of us losers could always find cheap labor jobs at “nalley’s” – a local manufacture of potato chips, condiments and chili. they also bottled pickles. one day, a buddy was really hungover after a night of drinking with us other drunks and he went to work sick as a dog. his job was “pickle thumper”. you ever notice that when you buy a new jar of pickles, there’s always one last pickle sort of wedged into the top? his job was to push in that last pickle. it made a “thump” noise when it snapped in, so his job was “pickle thumping” (as they called it.) he would reach into a huge vat of pickles and, as each full jar came down the assembly line, he’d thump in that last pickle. no joke. well, he was hungover, so he started to get sick to his stomach from the smell of all the brine, and well, he threw up into the big vat of pickles. he stopped the assembly line and called over his foreman and told him what happened. the foreman took off his bump cap and sighed, scratching his head. “well…” he said. “best send ‘em over to the relish department.” then he walked away.