Recently our canal college Falkirk volunteers headed to Edinburgh to spend a day working on the Lowland Canals Volunteer Group work boat Lochrin. They were busy cutting back offside vegetation along the Union canal, ensuring that the waterway remains clear and safe for boat traffic.
While lifting cut branches from the water, they accidentally unearthed something else from the depths of the canal – a hundred-year-old ketchup bottle! Through the mud of decades, our volunteers were able to make out a logo embossed on the bottle neck, and with a little research we discovered it’s history.
In the early 20th century, the Curtice Brothers Company produced a well-known brand of ketchup in Rochester, New York. The company’s “blue label” ketchup eventually fell out of favour, but at the time was popular enough to rival Heinz ketchup, which of course is by far the biggest selling and best known brand to this day. Based on the embossed “BB” on the base, the bottle was most likely made by the Berney Bond Glass Company in Pennsylvania, who operated until around 1930. You can read more about the bottle’s history in this blog by the University of Washington’s Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Sara Gonzalez.
Who knows how long this bottle lay at the bottom of the canal? Whoever purchased it in their local grocers all those decades ago, we hope they enjoyed their ketchup!