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Sorry, the ‘57’ on Heinz bottles doesn’t actually mean anything

Say it ain’t so! The number “57” that appears on Heinz ketchup bottles doesn’t actually represent the number of condiment varieties the brand offers.
You’d think the number has some sort of significance to the brand, but it really doesn't. 
You’d think the number has some sort of significance to the brand, but it really doesn't. SOPA Images / SOPA Images/Getty Images

The term “57 varieties” has proudly appeared on Heinz bottles for over a century, but that number apparently has nothing to do with the brand. HUH?!

Like many other people, we were always under the assumption that “57 varieties” meant that the brand offered 57 varieties of condiments. Seems logical, right? But a new CNN article reveals that “57 varieties” is more of a catchphrase, if anything.

According to CNN, there weren’t 57 Heinz varieties when H.J. Heinz first came up with the slogan in 1896. Even now, 126 years later, there are hundreds of varieties. So why has the brand kept the number on its bottles for so long?

Heinz Brand Director Ashleigh Gibson offered some insight to TODAY Food.

"At the time, there were 60 products being sold, but he thought there was something mystical, magical, and memorable about 57," she said in an email statement. "He said he chose '5' because it was his lucky number, and '7' because it was his wife’s lucky number. It has been '57' ever since."

According to CNN, Heinz visited New York City in 1986 and saw an advertisement for “21 styles” of shoes, and thought the odd number did a good job of grabbing people’s attention.

In a biography about her boss, Heinz’s personal secretary once suggested that the number seven particularly appealed to the brand’s founder.

“Seven, seven — there are so many illustrations of the psychological influences of that figure and of its alluring significance to people of all ages and races,” the biography reported that Heinz once said. “58 Varieties or 59 Varieties did not appeal at all to me as being equally strong.”

Heinz "57" trademark at the top of a Heinz building in Pittsburgh.
Heinz "57" trademark at the top of a Heinz building in Pittsburgh. Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

The number “57” has become synonymous with the Heinz brand over the last century, but Heinz wasn’t expecting it to take off so quickly.

“I myself did not realize how highly successful a slogan it was going to be,” Heinz once wrote in his diary, as reported by CNN.

The number isn’t just featured on Heinz ketchup; it also appears on the brand’s mustard, mayonnaise, baked beans and cream of tomato soup.

Much like the Heinz logo, the "57 varieties" mark has become a way for customers to recognize the brand and it's really nostalgic for fans of the company.

"Our '57' mark is part of our proud heritage. Originally, it appeared locked up with a pickle graphic, but it has evolved over time to more effectively reflect our product portfolio and become a brand asset in its own right — much like the Heinz logo, keystone and our iconic glass bottle," Gibson told TODAY.