The Asparagus Letter


Categories: Personal

This is a bit of family history, uncovered while sorting through boxes of paperwork.

My grandfather wrote this letter, to which he actually stapled a piece of asparagus. We have a copy of the letter. I don’t recall the outcome, but I think it was positive.

January 22nd, 1946

E. Pritchard Inc.
Bridgeton, N. J.


We had your cut spears asparagus for dinner tonight and they are
so incredible that I know you could not believe a description of them with-
out a sample before you, and so you may know I do not exaggerate, one of
these faggots is enclosed.

It seems that these must have been especially bred for toughness,
for even ordinary uncooked asparagus does not approximate this in tensile
strength and indestructability. I have never eaten bamboo, but I imagine
it could only be as tough as this if sufficiently aged.

Seriously, we have enjoyed your catsup for years and am taking the
trouble to write you since I am convinced that you must be unaware of this
product which masquerades as a food under your brand name. One can of the
stuff could undo $1000. in good advertising.

Yours very truly,


(This letter was written when the notion of a “faggot” as a strong piece of wood was not an innuendo.)

Comments [archived]

From: Linda Seebach
Date: 2010-01-05 05:11:28 -0600

Ooh! I remember that. We talked about it for years, and when we came across the carbon copy in my father’s file drawers after he died (in 1982) my brother said, “Oh, the asparagus letter!” although it was written before he was born.

By family tradition, someone from Del Monte showed up on our front porch on Long Island a couple of days later with a propitiatory case of their products.

Next I hope you find the Ben Graham letter, in which the eminent investment adviser tells my father he isn’t taking individual clients any more, and refers him to an up-and-coming young protege of Graham’s named Warren Buffet. If only . . .

From: Linda Seebach
Date: 2010-01-05 06:08:45 -0600

Sorry; Del Monte is the way the story came down to me, but I was six in 1946. Pritchard eventually ended up as part of what is now Hunt-Wesson.

From Google Books, Pure Ketchup by Andrew Smith:


In Red Bank, N.J., Naider and Baird made tomato puree. One its salesmen, Edward Pritchard, began experimenting with making ketchup from puree in about 1878. When Naider and Baird failed, Pritchard opened a factory in New York, selling “Pride of the Farm” and “Eddy’s Brand Catsup.” In 1913 Pritchard purchased B.S. Ayers and Sons and moved to Bridgeton, New Jersey.


Almost simultaneously with the Del Monte corporation, ketchup production by Hunt Foods dramatically increased after its acquisition of the E. Pritchard Company in Bridgeton, NJ, . . .
[exact date not clear in the excerpt, but likely in the 1940s.]

From: Jon Kirsch
Date: 2010-07-27 12:38:07 -0500

seebs, is that you?

From: Marie Pritchard
Date: 2011-03-03 20:27:03 -0600

I have been looking at a picture of my grandparents for years and they are sitting on a wooden crate from “Pride of the Farm” from E. Pritchard. I have looked everywhere for one of the crates and have been unable to find one, any help? Thanks Marie