One popular tomato processor has been around since 1942, when it started out as a small family operation in a rebuilt canning factory.

I'll be honest, I don't eat a lot of ketchup. A lot of people swear by Heinz 57, claiming it's the best ketchup around, but if you were to put it side by side with any other brand of ketchup, I likely wouldn't notice. At my house, we usually buy Great Value-branded products. However, the only time I pop the cap on my Great Value bottle of ketchup (which is likely expired) is when I'm eating frozen french fries or tater tots. But even on those rare occasions, I don't use a hefty amount.

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While as an adult, my ketchup consumption might be limited, as a kid, that wasn't always the case. I remember my family often buying the Red Gold brand of ketchup, along with their other tomato products for soups, pastas, and even homemade pizza. As an adult, I still buy Red Gold tomato sauce from time to time, along with crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. What I didn't know until recently, however, is that the company is headquartered in Elwood, Indiana.

Red Gold via Walmart
Red Gold via Walmart

According to the company, Red Gold dates all the way back to 1942 when Grover C. Hutcherson and his daughter Fran purchased and rebuilt an old abandoned cannery building in central Indiana. The family started the cannery to support the ongoing war effort, canning tomatoes for troops at home and overseas. Upon opening the cannery, called "Orestes Canning," at the time, the family began inviting local farmers to partner with them by growing high-quality tomatoes for canning.

In 1948, Fran took over the business alongside her new husband, Ernest Reichart. Over the next several decades, the family-run company continued to prosper by introducing new products. In 1970, the Reicharts bought a relatively small tomato label in Trafalgar, Indiana by the name of "Red Gold," which became the new name of the company as it was much easier to pronounce than Orestes Canning.

When Orestes Canning first began operations, they only produced whole, peeled tomatoes and tomato purée. However, as time went on, they began pumping out other tomato products like juice, ketchup, and even salsa. During the 1980s and well into the 2000s, Red Gold grew to a team of 1,500 employees and eventually partnered with over 40 Midwestern family farms. Red Gold notes on their website that the amount of tomatoes they are now able to can in one day would have taken the original cannery an entire season. You can read more about the company's history and current initiatives here.

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