You’ve heard of the H.J. Heinz Company. You’ve had their mustard on a hamburger or had any other number of their fine foods and condiments. But did you know there almost WASN’T a Heinz food company?
H. J. Heinz, the company’s founder, had actually lost his burgeoning food business as a result of the economic Panic of 1873. By 1875, he had exhausted all the money he had from his family. He had even been jailed for a time due to debt. He had gone from success to total humiliation. And now it was Christmas of 1875, with no money for any gifts for his family.
Suddenly, a letter appeared, from Heinz’s mother. It was a prophecy of sorts. She had taken the time with all that she had left, to pen these words to her son:
“May the blessings of thy God wait upon thee, and the sun of glory shine round thy head. May the gates of plenty, honor, and happiness always open to thee and thine; may the pillow of peace kiss thy cheek, and the pleasures of imagination attend thy dreams; and when length of years thee tired of earthy joys, and the curtains of death gently close around the scenes of thine existence, may the angels of God attend thy bed and take care that the expiring lamp of life shall not receive one rude blast to hasten its extinction; and finally, may the Saviour’s blood wash thee from all impurities and at last usher thee into the land of everlasting felicity.”
Inspired by these words, Heinz survived that Christmas week and set about on a new path, resolved to pay back all his creditors and make his business a success (1). And it became wildly successful and continues to bear his name to this day.
What kinds of words are we speaking into those around us?
(1) Source: Quentin R. Skrabec, Jr., H. J. Heinz: A Biography (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, 2009), pp. 60-65.