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Baked Beans: Cheap and Nutritious, 44% Heinz Owned

Updated on October 27, 2010

Heinz Beans. Life Savers for Some.

Perhaps the world's best known canned product.
Perhaps the world's best known canned product.

"Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit"

Heinz Baked Beans have become an institution

The Wind that saved the world

"They were gathered in the war-room,
Faces tense and grim.
He had his hand above the button;
All the others looked at him.

Then a voice came through the speaker,
"They've launched, they've launched," it cried,
That only gives us five short minutes,
Before we're incinerated; fried."

"That's it, dear friends, Amuricans,
Let's give the swine what for."
His hand descended to the button:
Stopped by a mighty roar!

"I beg your pardon," said the V.P.,
"It must have been those beans."
The look that G.B. gave him,
He'll remember in his dreams.

Just then the voice was heard again,
"Hold it! Hold your fire!
It's not the Russian missiles,
The damn computer crossed a wire!"

So though they kept it from the public;
   (The CIA had played their part).
There was this explosive moment
When the world was rescued by a fart!".

From "Charged Particles, by RCdeM


God, or perhaps evolution, provided early man with a host of good, nutritious plants, many already in situ when he arrived to take his place on this already tired old planet; with the Creator’s footprint firmly embedded in his derriere from scrumping up there in Paradise, or descended from some ape-like creature in darkest Africa: the debate still rages-on about that, and this article is about more mundane matters.

Having excelled myself again in producing an opening sentence that would resulted in me dodging a blackboard rubber again back at good old Oxford, let me actually introduce today’s subject, the Baked Bean, or the Batchelor Bean as it is often fondly known. This is perhaps the most outstanding example of man taking the seed of a natural plant - in this case the bean - and making it easily available for the consumer.

The BB is a fixture in any college student’s or partner-less person’s food cupboard. The reasons for this are a) They are dirt cheap, and Heinz, the main producer, has devised a size and package for every pocket. There are large cans, huge ones, in fact, for the commercial user who intend to finish the contents before they go grey and start growing penicillin. For the average sad and lonely folk, there are about three sizes that appeal, especially the new mini-size, just right for one slice of toast. Toast? That’s right, the baked bean is nothing if it is not served, as a friend once said, “Like shit on a raft.” Although I believe true baked-bean die-hards do eat them straight from the can to the mouth in an emergency.

b) They are totally convenient and even the most hung-over reveller, convinced he/she is on the brink of death, is able to grope around the tins in the larder and, without having to ungum the eyes, can feel a small can of beans, hook a shaky finger into the pull-tab and tip them on to a cold slice of bread; no need to heat toast, just get some sustenance in that sick body before the blood sugar goes right through the floor and death by diabetic shock occurs. You know, you’ve all bean there. The sardines, other important items in the lopo’s (lonely person’s), or the wino’s emergency food source, situated next to the beans, relax for another day or so, it’s not their turn at breakfast.

c) They are soooo tasty. Aren’t they? That’s why they often don’t make it to the pan or microwave before they’re spooned - or clawed - into all those starving mouths all over the world. That juice! So sweet and rich, and the beans themselves, so soft yet crisp and easy to eat even if you haven’t seen your dentures in two weeks, since you threw them at the cat.

And they are good for you, aren’t they? They had better be, you have been eating them for several years, ever since Mariel ran off with that banker who recently moved to Antarctica with her. ..that was a bonus!

How bad can they be, anyway, they’re just beans and a bit of tomato sauce; let’s have a look at the can.

Right away we see, according to Heinz anyway, they are OK for those looking for a gluten free diet, and for vegetarians. They have a “low glycaemic index” (GI), ideal for those worried about their cholesterol then. what’s this? “No artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.” I am warming to these humble chaps by the minute; when did I last see a canned food with that cheerful news on the label? They usually have so much junk listed it would take an industrial chemist to explain.

My can has only 51% beans, but also 33% tomatoes. That’s 84% of the contents, what else do we have here? Water, sugar, salt, modified corn flour, spice extracts, spirit vinegar, herb extracts…that’s it.

Lets have a look at the corn flour, what is it, what is “modifying.“ The corn is steeped for 30 to 48 hours, which ferments it slightly. The germ is separated from the endosperm and those two components are ground separately (still soaked). Next the starch is removed from each by washing. It is separated from the gluten and other substances, mostly in hydrocyclones and centrifuges, and dried. (The residue from every stage is used in animal feed and other products.) Finally the starch may be modified for specific purposes. Crikey, now I know what “going through the mill” means. I couldn’t find out what Heinz does to the starch to modify it, would be something to do with making it baked-bean compatible I suppose.

I note that low sugar and salt baked beans are now an option and a better one for most of us I suspect; we get all too much salt in our diets these days. At least with this Heinz product you know how much is in it.

Hokeydoky, lets have a look at these “Herb and Spice Extracts.“ Oleoresins (naturally occurring mixture of a resin and an essential oil) obtained from certain plants and essential oils offer an excellent means to add natural concentrated flavours and food ingredients to many food and beverage systems. These extracts are produced by extraction and distillation of a wide range of herbs, spices and other botanicals. Nothing too complicated here, just the essence of spices and herbs, the best parts so to speak. But imagine having to produce these beans yourself. I’m more impressed by the minute!

I’m not alone, this why British are just mad about baked beans. A staggering 1.5 million cans of them are eaten every day. People raise money for charity by sitting in bathtubs full of them and the record for the Number of Baked Beans Consumed in Five Minutes Using Only a Cocktail Stick features in The Guinness Book of Records. We eat them alongside our bacon for breakfast, over a jacket potato at lunchtime and on hot, buttered toast for tea.

The brand of choice is, of course, Heinz. In fact, “beanz meanz Heinz,” as their 1967 slogan had it. The British Heinz was founded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1875, Britain's close relationship with the brand is hardly surprising. It was here that Henry James Heinz made his first overseas sale in 1886, and here that the company's first overseas factory was established, in Peckham in 1905. In the Sixties and Seventies, the UK subsidiary accounted for more than 50 per cent of the firm's business.

Although chef Jamie Oliver has apparently banned baked beans from his restaurant (he should be banned from TV in my opinion), many celebs love them and aren’t ashamed to tell the world about it, sort of a cult food.

``Baked beans , that's what Shane wants,'' an ACB spokesman said in Sydney when Australia were on tour in India.

On hearing of Warne's appeal, food processing company Heinz said it would immediately send nearly 2,000 cans of baked beans and spaghetti to Australia's Test squad in India. ``The shipment will be enough for the whole team and it will be leaving Australia tomorrow morning,'' a company spokesman said. I bet he didn’t want the curried variety, either!

So beans in a can have more than come of age. In fact, the manufacturers seem to be trying to find new ways to sell them to us all the time: we have them curries, “light,” low salt and/or sugar, with franks or sausage, etc. I prefer them the old, original way myself. And love ‘em with cheese on a baked spud. Which is why no woman escapes me these days, I weigh about 280!




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    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      You'll have to sing for your supper, VC. Glad we have found one another, and I thank you for the kind compliment. I will nip over and have a look at your site,too. BB for ever! Bob

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Where have I been? What took me so darn long to find you?

      You're one heck of a writer! I loved your line "You know, you’ve all bean there". Heinz would do well to hire you !

      Well, I love all kinds of beans, but baked are at the top of my list. I enjoyed every single word of this hub. And I will be back for more...I'll knock on your door...especially if I'm poor.

    • profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago

      A little prosaic maybe, but tasty and cheap...Bob

    • Sembj profile image

      Sembj 6 years ago

      Beans of many varieties seem to be a good, healthy and cheap source of nutrition. I think the price of food is going to keep rising sharply so we probably all should get used to eating a few more beans whether it's in chilli or cans.

      I enjoyed your reminiscences and thoughts on baked beans.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 7 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Thanks for comment cathylynn. I weigh 280!! I must practice what the beans preach! Bob

    • cathylynn99 profile image

      cathylynn99 7 years ago from northeastern US

      my husband weighed about 280 when we married 1 and 1/2 years ago. we got a couple of diet cookbooks (listed in my hub about weight loss) with tasty recipes and have been cooking out of those. He's down to 230. i went from 170 to 140#. We're both still losing weight. he was able to quit using his CPAP machine and may get off his cholesterol med. my blood pressure went from the "caution" range to the "good" range.

      we should probably eat more beans. you've inspired me to make chili next week.

      as usual, interesting and informative hub.

    • knell63 profile image

      knell63 7 years ago from Umbria, Italy

      As an ex-pat living in Italy I fully endorse the Baked Beans obsession. I keep trying to explain its mysticism and uniqueness to my Italian hosts but they just can't grasp its importance. Have to get British Corner Shop to shop supplies over, Thank God for the Internet