And here it is, the real truth behind Heinz’s 57 slogan

Geoffrey Shryhane
Geoffrey Shryhane

Our columnist Geoffrey Shryhane takes his weekly stroll down memory lane...

Fifty years ago, huge advertising hoardings carried one simple message in letters feet high...

HEINZ 57 IN 1957.

But why had the number 57 achieved significance in the big world of Heinz foods?

In fact, many, many decades before 1957, the same number had been used in Heinz advertising.

Why? Is the true reason deep and meaningful?

A secret known only to the food producers top managers?

Well, actually no.

Let me tell you – the number has no significance whatsoever. Yes I was a tad surprised too.

In 1896, the first Mr Heinz was then producing at least 59 varieties. All were successful and he wanted to tell the world about them.

But somehow “59 varieties” didn’t have quite the right ring. It lacked appeal.

On the other hand, the No.57 had strength as well as a touch of magic. Well he thought so any way.

So 57 was adopted and has stood the test of time.

Of course, today Heinz make hundreds of different varieties of just about everything under the sun.

Nobody questions the number 57 any more. The number is set in stone... or should that be baked beans?

n Another theory is that 5 was Mr Heinz’s favourite number and 7 was his wife’s.

A full-sized hospital ward is to be created at Wigan University College. But folk won’t be treated there. Not even a junior aspirin will be dispensed.

Let’s track back...

On a day a couple of years ago, there were barriers outside the new Wigan University College.

They weren’t needed because not one member of the public turned up to see “opener” Prince Edward.

Was this an omen?

I ask because the venture – designed for students wanting to achieve in catering and food technology – has not been an unqualified triumph. And that’s putting it mildly.

Encouraging words were used to mask the fact that the scheme was failing. And failing after vast amounts of hard work and money – most of it from the Government – had been ploughed in.

There were rumblings sometime ago that too few students had signed up.

It’s true.

And now the scheme has been subjected to an optimistic rethink. With a cash boost, the college university is to bring in new courses including midwifery, nursing, paramedic work, nursery nursing, and assistance for the elderly. Officials hope to attract young people to think of a career in health services.

In February, it was announced that a similar scheme to Wigan’s in Oldham had been scrapped after not one student had passed their English and maths.

And the new course with the medical theme will have a fully equipped hospital ward. It promises to be more than impressive.

Anyway good luck to the new scheme in Wigan.

The news that customers in the Wigan Weatherspoons pub can now order and pay for their drinks using their mobile phone struck a chord. Well just think, it will save all the queueing and mauling about and jostling at the bar waving a ten pound note in the air.

Is there anything worse than being forced to take part in a bar scrum? Drinkers losing their places. Lads whistling to attract attention. And ladies saying: “It’s my turn... PLEASE” through tight lips.

I smiled when I read that drinks can be ordered from your table, via your mobile at Weatherspoons.

But wait a minute. There’s nothing new about that.

Years ago, collecting for the RSPCA in pubs around town, I often spotted little bell pushes on the backs of seats and benches. Press it – and the waiter was at the table in seconds. How he knew which table had rung the bell remains a mystery. But it just shows – there’s nothing new in the long run.

In the 50s, some pubs still had spittoons. I kid you not.

They were different days. Very few juke boxes, but always a well-used plinky-plonky piano in the entertainment room.

Inevitably there were smart rooms for gentlemen with their ladies, and more down-to-earth places which were for chaps. Women were not banned but knew the system.

In those good old days, pub rooms were a fog of cigarette smoke. Pipes were popular too. The lads who earned a pound of two as glass collectors also emptied the ever-full ashtrays.

After a night of supping, customers returned home reeking of nicotine.

Years ago, eating out was beyond the pockets of many local families. Husband, wife and several kiddies… think of the cost.

A cuppa and a bun plus pop and crisps for the kids was just about affordable. Going to Blackpool,“We’ll take sandwiches and a flask.”

But thankfully times have changed and Wigan has a great choice of eateries.

But what about all those years ago?

My World has just discovered a list of restaurants and cafes from years ago and as I read the list, memories came tumbling back. So … do you remember any of these:

British Home Stores Cafe in Standishgate; Entwistle’s cafe in the Market Hall; F Gaskell,City Road, Kitt Green; Gorners in the old arcade; the Grand Hotel on Wallgate, Happy Palace, Market Street.

Berni Inn at the Minorca; New Way Cafe on Station Road; Roy Cafe, Marsden Street; T Norris, Earl Street, Wigan; Crawford Lounge at Pendlebury’s; Percival Caterers on Hope Street; Wigan bus station; Poole’s on Wallgate; Lewis’s snack bar on Greenhough Street; E Thurston on Millgate.

Transport and cafe on Warrington Lane. Vose’s (UCP), Wigan Coop; Wishbone Restaurant on Hope Street; Wishing Well and Friar Tucks on Hallgate; Tony’s Snackbar on Ormskirk Road, and Woolworths.

Good old Woollies with its hissing guisers.

Me? I loved the old Singing Kettle at Hindley. It was, as you can imagine, the last word in fine dining. Toast was two pence.

Please drop me a line with your memories. g.shryhane@btinternet.com.

A picture in a school book first fired my imagination. But six years would pass before that bookish snap was a reality.

It was of the statue of Queen Boudica with towering Big Ben in the background.

Throughout my life, the clock and the statue as well as the honey-stoned Palace of Westminster have held me in their thrall.

For years, in all seasons, I’ve taken pleasure in lingering to hear the chimes and bongs of the clock and then walking across the bridge to the white lion statue. But now everything has changed.

Last Wednesday, as I was finishing writing this page, there was the terrible news that a terrorist had killed people on Westminster Bridge.

A policeman too, and many seriously injured.

Taking my favourite little London walk just won’t be the same in future. It is now a place of death and tragedy on a spring day.

A small disappointment for me, but life-altering for the families of those killed and injured.

I took my last photographs of the world’s most famous clock – soon to fall silent for repairs – a couple of weeks ago at dusk then walked across the bridge.

Big Ben struck six. Thousands of Londoners were homeward bound on the bridge. Lights shone out of red buses. The atmosphere was magic, butI fear my dear old Westminster will never ever be the same. Not now.