Iconic Heinz sign could paint Strip District neon-red
H.J. Heinz Co.’s iconic neon ketchup bottle could start pouring over Pittsburgh again with a new home in the Strip District.
The sign appears headed for the east side of the Senator John Heinz History Center, pending approval by the city Planning Commission. Members heard about the plan Tuesday and could vote on it in two weeks.
“We’re certainly very excited to have it continue as part of the Pittsburgh skyline,” said Michael Mullen, the ketchup-maker’s spokesman.
Heinz has its world headquarters in the U.S. Steel Tower, Downtown, and is paying an undisclosed amount to refurbish the sign and display it on the history museum.
Although it looks old, the sign went up on the North Side in 1995 to mark the company’s 125th anniversary. It came down in April.
Heinz spun off its North Side factory and several businesses to Del Monte Foods in 2002, with an agreement to keep the sign up four years. The company had been looking for a new place to hang the 42.5-foot-high sign since the lease expired.
The history center has established itself enough so most people should not get too mixed up over seeing the ketchup bottle on the museum, said Andy Masich, the history center’s CEO.
The center is named for the great-grandson of Henry J. Heinz, who founded the food company in 1869. Sen. H. John Heinz III died in a 1991 plane crash.
“There might be some confusion from people out of town thinking it’s the Heinz plant,” Masich said.
Heinz employs 1,200 people in Pittsburgh, but makes ketchup for North America in Fremont, Ohio. The ketchup sign appears to empty out and refill itself every 30 seconds — or 1,051,200 refills a year.
Andrew Conte can be reached at email@example.com or (412) 320-7835.