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Warhol soup can courtesy of Artnet.

I’ve been eating a lot of Campbell’s Lentil Soup recently (i.e. nearly every night) and thought I would post some cool Campbell’s advertisements from the 1910s , 20s and 40s.

The history of Campbell’s is pretty interesting too. Although Campbell’s Soup is widely known and regarded as a staple “comfort food,” not many people know much about the company itself. Campbell’s was actually started in 1869 in Camden, New Jersey (close to Atlantic City!).  Initially a small canning factory, the first products manufactured by Campbell’s weren’t even soup; french peas, fancy asparagus and beefsteak tomatoes were the first things rolling off the production line. Eventually, the company expanded to condiments, soups, jellies and vegetables.

Campbell’s didn’t even specialize in soup production until a man named John Dorrance joined the company in 1897. A chemical engineer and organic chemist, Dorrance invented a condensed soup that could be sold at a third of the cost of Campbell’s competitors who were still producing and shipping heavy uncondensed soup. With this innovation, Campbell’s was able to sell their soup for less, beat out many competitors and eventually expand into California, becoming one of the first products available nationwide. Owing to the popularity of condensed soup, Campbell’s soon phased out other lines and instead concentrated solely on its canned soup line. In 1922, the company officially added the word soup to their name becoming the Campbell’s Soup Company. As you can see from the advertisements, the Campbell’s Soup lineup has changed over the years. The popularity of varieties such as  “Mock Turtle” and “Ox-Tail” (yum) soup seems to have declined over the last century. Here’s a list of current “Classic Favorites” available from Campbell’s for comparison. You can also see that the price has steadily increased. It appears to have been 10 cents a can in the 1910s and then increased 2 cents by the next decade. Now, I am lucky if I can get my Campbell’s for 99 cents!

Nowadays, Campbell’s is the number one soup maker in the world and controls 69 percent of the United States soup market and and dominates in Europe as well.
FUN FACT: I consumed 3 cans of lentil soup throughout the construction of this post. (It’s been more than one day.)


Campbell’s advertisement – Ladies’ Home Journal, April 1915


Campbell’s advertisement – Ladies’ Home Journal, January 1915


Campbell’s advertisement – Saturday Evening Post, July 29, 1922


Campbell’s advertisement – Saturday Evening Post, August 26, 1922


Campbell’s advertisement – LIFE Magazine, September 24, 1945

“Campbell Soup Company.” Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. Ed. Thomas Carson and Mary Bonk. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 1999. 136-137. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 6 Feb. 2013.
Gasbarre, April Dougal, and David E. Salamie. “Campbell Soup Company.” International Directory of Company Histories. Ed. Jay P. Pederson. Vol. 71. Detroit: St. James Press, 2005. 75-81. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 6 Feb. 2013.
Ladies’ Home Journal
LIFE Magazine
Saturday Evening Post