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3. Preserved Foods

Erie Preserving Company, Buffalo NY

Erie Preserving Company logo from 1881 shows a less industrial landscape, with only two boats transporting produce into the firm's factory on Ohio St.

Erie Preserving Company, Buffalo NY

Erie Preserving Company logo from 1885, which now includes the railroad as a form of transportation and more ships for the transportation of produce in the bay behind the factory. This logo also includes the addition of "Fined Canned Goods" on the factory building. 

In the middle of the 19th century Erie County, and more specifically the city of Buffalo, served as an important location for the transportation of produce from the Midwestern United States to the eastern parts of the country. The demand for meat and produce, however, increased so much that the canal could not support the growing population. The transportation of Midwestern crops relied on large lake boats with drafts too deep for certain parts of the Erie Canal, such as those that led into Buffalo. The tedious process of unloading these lake boats by hand created traffic in the bays of Buffalo and proved to limit the amount of produce that could be processed into New York at one time. In the first letterhead logo from the Erie Preserving Company, we see two boats in front of what appears to be the company’s factory. The image implies that the produce was transported as described above: a long transition from the boats to the factory via foot.

The development of grain elevators, a technology that unloaded wheat directly from the ships in a more timely and efficient fashion, helped speed up boat traffic and thus increasing the amount of grain that could be transported daily. Now, ships were able to unload in one day’s time. The efficiency of the train system In a later logo from the Erie Preserving Company we see this new form of transportation and we also see more ships behind the factory, implying that more produce is being transported into the factory.

By the middle of the 19th century, a reliably safe canning process was leading to its wider use--notably for Civil War soldiers needing food they could could transport and consume when necessary. The preservation of fruits and vegetables therefore was crucial to the war effort, and its use spread across the United States. Fruits and vegetables had been preserved in several ways: drying, boiling them in sugar, converting them into jams and jellies, soaking them in alcohol, pickling them. Food processing gradually moved out of individual homes and into larger factories like this one on Buffalo. In the firm's earlier logo, the sign on the factory reads only “Erie Preserving Company,” whereas the later version now advertises “Fined Canned Goods”. At a time when grains were arriving from the Midwest, fruits and vegetables from Western New York now were traveling greater distances.