Cannery Life, Del Monte in the Santa Clara Valley

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Mission brand yellow cling peaches label

View a database that includes artifacts, photographs, and documents in the History San José collection which relate to Del Monte Plant #3 in San José, California.

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In Their Own Words

Beatrice and Friends

Learn about Del Monte Plant #3 from the people who worked there.  See videos of former Del Monte employees sharing their memories.

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Del Monte Brand

Del Monte Tomato Label, c. 1915The Del Monte Brand first appeared in 1886, the property of Tillman & Bendel, an Oakland-based firm which used it for a blend of coffee prepared for the luxury Hotel Del Monte in Monterey, California.  It was later used by the Oakland Preserving Company, which became part of the California Fruit Canners Association in 1899.  The CFCA chose Del Monte as its featured premium brand within just a few years.  The company also marketed no fewer than 75 other brands.  But it was quickly apparent that consumers associated the name Del Monte with a high-quality product.

Del Monte Asparagus Tips Label, 1926.Upon its creation in 1916, the California Packing Corporation (Calpak) adopted the Del Monte brand as the premium label for the new corporation.  Calpak’s founders and board members strongly believed that consumers would become loyal to the Del Monte brand so long as its high quality was assured.  The first national advertising campaign featuring Del Monte was launched in April 1917.  Full color ads in national magazines like Good Housekeeping and the Saturday Evening Post emphasized high quality, good taste and good nutrition.

Del Monte Peach Label, c. 1980.Calpak’s first fifty years of operations attested to the success of this strategy – Del Monte became a household name and preferred brand.  Even when consumers knew they were eating the same peaches, they expressed a preference to buy the can with the Del Monte label over a generic one.  In 1967, Calpak changed its name to the Del Monte Corporation, a title it has held through further mergers and acquisitions.  Del Monte has in many ways set the standard for the development of brand identity and brand consciousness.

To learn about the design and printing of can and crate labels in the Santa Clara Valley, visit Label Legacy: The Muirson Label Company.