A Beech-Nut Love Story

By Trish, a Beech-Nut mom

A Beech-Nut Love Story

Dear Beech-Nut,

My name is Trish and I recently adopted a beautiful baby boy named Harry. I have been waiting so long to be a mom and he is the most wonderful gift. As he gets to be the age where I will start adding baby food to his diet, there is only one choice: Beech-Nut. I am writing to tell you why Beech-Nut is the only option for our family.

Our family history runs deep with the original Beech-Nut Factory in Canajoharie, N.Y. Harry’s grandfather, Donald, worked summers at Beech-Nut from 1951 – 1954 delivering supplies, while he was a high school and college student. Harry’s great-aunt, Dorothy, worked at Beech-Nut in 1944, during World War II. She worked for a secret project that Beech-Nut did “on the side” for the federal government. Beech-Nut was commissioned to assist in the war effort with a special electronics project using microfilm. The workers were cautioned never to discuss what they did, not even with locals.

Harry’s great-grandmother, Helen, worked at Beech-Nut over a 40-year period. In the 1920’s, Beech-Nut gave away beautiful, tin boxes decorated with images of the Canajoharie, N.Y. valley. Helen packed these boxes with products (many no longer made by Beech-Nut today) for big customers as Christmas gifts from the company.

During WWII, Beech-Nut needed women to work because so many men went to war. Helen worked in Ration K, preparing food in cans and packages for soldiers throughout WWII. I am proud to say my grandmother was a part of this important war effort.

harry illustration history

One really interesting thing Harry’s great-grandmother did during her time at the factory was testing baby food jars. I am sure today you have more high-tech ways to do this, nowadays, but Helen would hit the tops of the jars, one by one, with a wooden drum stick. One could tell from the sound it made if a jar had spoiled!

Back then, people who worked in the baby food section also worked in a conveyor belt setting, picking out the bad fruits and vegetables. My father fondly remembers standing behind the workers with his buddies so they could eat the sweet pears that were discarded!

Harry’s great-great uncle, Ray, worked in the Beech-Nut his whole adult life, except for four years when he fought in WWII, from the 1930’s until he retired in the late 1960’s. He worked in Store One, where my dad worked, and later worked maintenance. Our cousin, Janet, worked for a long time making gum at the factory. Our cousin, Bill, worked a long time for the Beech-Nut and retired from there. He worked at Plant 2 near Fort Plain making hard candy.

Harry’s great-grandmother retired on a pension and lived her final years in Arkell Hall in Canajoharie, the home once owned by the Arkell family, who built Beech-Nut. When my dad graduated from high school, he won one of the Arkell College Scholarships. I will someday share this history with my son and explain to him why he only ate Beech-Nut baby food when he was a baby!



harry history beech-nut baby