How Campbell’s dusted Off a Century-Old Recipe to Cook up Its Latest Marketing Idea

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Following a recipe from 1915 isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Almost all Americans have a few old family recipes on file to make beloved, home-made meals. At Campbell Soup, these recipes can go back a little further than a generation or two.

Tucked away in the archives of the company behind the namesake tomato soup, was Dr. John Dorrance’s original Beefsteak Tomato soup recipe from 1915. And this year, it made 10,000 jars by following the 101-year-old soup recipe as closely as it could. Plans are in place to sell a small batch line of soups in 2017 for a limited time in Cracker Barrel locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Each 24-ounce jar sports a replica of Campbell’s original white and red label, featuring an ink drawing of two farmers carrying a larger-than-life tomato off the field. This is a bigger deal than it sounds, since grocery labels of the era were customarily made of brown kraft paper. Campbell’s red and white label not only helped its soup to stand out, it’s the color scheme the company retains to this day.

Following a 102-year-od recipe isn’t so easy either, it turns out. “Seemingly, soup is very straightforward,” said Campbell’s corporate archivist Sarah Rice, “but there are many, many different ways to make it.”

As Rice explained, even if you add all the specified ingredients, the taste of soup can vary according to which you mix together and when you add them to the pot. What’s more, measurements and cooking times in 1915 weren’t as precise as the ones the company uses today.

These variables aside, the company is confident it’s nailed the flavor, color and consistency of its original recipe—something a fortunate few will get to sample on their own. But with only 10,000 jars to be sold, the existing batch probably won’t last long.

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