When Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, closed down after the spring term of 1847, Harrison Woodhull Crosby, the college’s chief gardener and assistant steward in the dining hall, went home to his farm in Jamesburg in Middlesex County, New Jersey, and scoured six little pails that his or neighbors’ children perhaps once filled with sand from the seashore. He soldered lids for the cans, being careful to leave a hole in the lids, through which he then shoved stewed tomatoes. He then soldered the holes shut. Crosby was so proud of his accomplishment that the next year, in the Lafayette College kitchen, he stuffed stewed tomatoes into one thousand tin cans (not sand pails) and sent samples to such notables as President Polk, Queen Victoria, New Jersey lawmakers, and Horace Greeley at the New York Tribune.1
The samples were an immediate hit, and commercial canning of tomatoes in New Jersey and perhaps in America was born. As the new food processing industry used the term, canning meant packing vegetables, fruits, and condiments in bottles as well as tin cans.
Crosby’s new business made headlines. More importantly, news of what he had done spread from farmer to farmer and from