Van Camp’s is a brand of canned beans currently owned by ConAgra Foods, Inc. Their products typically consist of beans stewed in a flavored sauce. Van Camp's has for some time been the second-best selling brand of baked beans in the United States, competing with Bush's Baked Beans.
The brand traces its roots back to Indianapolis, where in 1861 Gilbert Van Camp and associates Calvin Fletcher and Martin Williams constructed what became the nation's first successful commercial cold storage warehouse. Primarily concerned with the preservation of fruits and vegetables, VanCamp quickly began experimenting with canning, and by 1862 he had started to can fruits and vegetables in the summertime for winter consumption. Shortly thereafter, VanCamp secured a lucrative contract to supply Union troops during the Civil War. Van Camp's pork and beans quickly became a wartime staple. Following the war, demand for canned food soared as returning veterans were eager to purchase the food that they had become familiar with. In 1882 Van Camp Packing Company was founded, selling catsup beginning in 1888. In 1894 his son Frank Van Camp is credited with the creation of the now-famous recipe for pork and beans in tomato sauce. By 1898 the Van Camp Packing Company had increased annual production to six million cans. By 1909 Indiana, bolstered by the Van Camp family's company had become the nation's leading producer of canned baked beans. Frank Van Camp went on to found Van Camp Seafood.
The firm is considered to have been a trendsetter in the canned-foods industry. In 1933 it was acquired by James and John Stokely, who operated the Stokely canned tomato company in Newport, Tennessee, forming Stokely-Van Camp, Inc., with the resultant combined company headquartered in Indianapolis. "In the 1940s the Port of Bellingham (Washington) built two warehouses at Squalicum Harbor which became part of Bellingham Cold Storage, a full-service public refrigerated warehousing company that in its 60-plus years of operation has served big-name clients such as Stokely-Van Camp" which had had a cannery in town for many years and had built a freezing facility for local fruits and vegetables (berries, peas and carrots) at the harbor next to Bellingham Cold Storage. Stokely's also had other canneries in Skagit County and elsewhere in the PNW and harvesting equipment. In the 1970s Stokely-Van Camp agreed to produce, market and distribute a new beverage called Gatorade. This product was the first sports drink, and would eventually generate more in sales than the rest of SVC's other products combined. In 1983 the brand passed to the Quaker Oats Company when it purchased Stokely-Van Camp. Quaker Oats, in turn, sold off the Stokely brand in 1985 to Seneca Foods, and sold Van Camp's to ConAgra in 1995.
Over the years, a number of foods have been sold under the Van Camp’s name, including its popular Tenderoni pasta product, but as of 2005[update] it only sells canned cooked beans, including pork and beans, baked beans, kidney beans, a vegetarian variant of its pork and bean recipe, and “Beanee Weenee”—a mixture of beans with slices of frankfurter made of beef and chicken in a tomato sauce.
- Gilbert C. VanCamp. (1895). In G. Reed (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Biography of Indiana (Vol. 2, pp. 54–56). Chicago: The Century Publishing and Engraving Company.
- Volo, D., & Volo, J. (1998). Daily life in Civil War America (p. 273). Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.
- Gray, R. (1994). Indiana History: A Book of Readings (pp. 207–208). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
- The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis at Google Books