March 9, 2012
On November 29, 1870, the William Underwood Co. of Boston, Massachusetts, one of the country’s first successful canning companies, registered a “Trade-Mark for Deviled Entremets”—“Intended for Sandwiches, Luncheons, and Traveler’s Repasts”—with the brand-new U.S. Patent Office.
The spicy deviled ham was not the first trademarked food; indeed, at Number 82 it was preceded by “J.B. Baldy & Co. Railroad Brand Mustard,” (No. 2), a canned menhaden packed by Tracy Coit called “Shadines” (No. 4), and William Lanfair Ellis of Baltimore’s canned oysters (No. 5).
What’s remarkable about Underwood’s trademark is that it remains in use today. Long gone are the William Ryan’s Sugar-Cured Hams (No. 11), H. K. Thurber’s Best Yeast-Powder (No. 14), and Century White Wheat Bourbon (No. 15). Meanwhile, the Underwood’s canned deviled hams endures.
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