In 1955, Fortune published its first-ever list of the 500 biggest industrial corporations in the U.S., ranked by annual sales. Coming in at number 88 was Campbell Soup, the food processing company that was founded when Ulysses S. Grant was president.
The company is no longer quite so huge compared to its peers; in 2016 Campbell was ranked 337th. But it’s still one of the bigger food companies in the country, and it has been on the Fortune 500 ever since that first issue.
When you think of canned soup, chances are you think of Campbell Soup (CPB) first, thanks to its pervasive marketing; most consumers are familiar with “Mmm Mmm Good,” a slogan Campbell still uses that dates from the 1930s. The soup brand, with its iconic red and white label, has long been known for spending big on advertising. In fact, in the 1930s Campbell Soup was the most highly advertised single food product. The chemist-turned-president of the company, John T. Dorrance, was an early believer of the power of advertising (as well as one of the inventors of condensed soup): He spent $4,000 in 1899 to place its first ads on streetcars. The company became an even more recognizable image in popular culture thanks to Andy Warhol, who created an iconic series of paintings of Campbell Soup cans in the 1960s.
Campbell also owns major food brands like V8, Swanson, Pepperidge Farm, and Prego.
Last year the company found and recreated Dorrance’s 101-year-old original beefsteak tomato soup recipe. But homages like that aside, the company is focused on a movement toward fresh food.”The food industry is in the midst of a true revolution,” Campbell President and CEO Denise Morrison said at a recent industry conference. “Nearly 70% of adults indicate that fresh is an important attribute when buying food.”
Fortune has been covering the company since the 1930s. Campbell and its products been photographed by great Fortune photographers like Russell Aikins, Margaret Bourke-White, and Dan Weiner. Take a look at some of these amazing photos we dug out of our archives.
The Fortune 500 Photo Archives is a part of a series published every Friday through June 7th, leading up to the Fortune 500. See more companies from our archives here. For more Fortune photography, follow us at @fortunephotodept on Instagram.