Burpee seeds celebrates 135 years

I finally opened up my Burpee seed catalog and noticed the insert touting 135 years of business. One thing that has become popular, after the many years of creating hybrid plants, is the heirlooms and organic. I will look for those tags, when daydreaming about my 2011 garden.

The following dates and milestones were interesting to me and so I will share them with you.

1876 – 18 year-old W. Atlee Burpee founds the W. Atlee Burpee Company in Philadelphia with a $1,000 loan from his mom. (I gotta say that was a lot of money back then. He had a pretty brave mom!)

1877 – Burpee introduces the new “Surehead” cabbage variety.

1888 – W. Atlee Burpee buys Fordhook, a farm in Doylestown, PA, and transforms it into a world-famous facility.

1894 – Burpee introduces “Iceberg” lettuce, the world’s first crisphead lettuce.

1902 – Burpee introduces the world’s first yellow sweet corn, “Golden Bantam.” (I remember this was my dad’s favorite to grow and eat — and he did love fresh corn on the cob.)

1934 – Burpee introduces the world’s first hybrid flower: The double hydrid Nasturtium.

1945 – Burpee introduces “Burpee Hybrid” cucumber and Fordhook hybrid tomato.

1949 – Burpee introduces “Big Boy” hybrid tomato, a breakthrough in taste and yield that is still popular today.

1960 – David Burpee makes marigolds America’s most popular flower and registers as a lobbyist to have the marigold officially named the national flower.

1992 – Burpee introduces “Roly Poly” zucchini, the first fully round zucchini.

1994 – Burpee introduces “French Vanilla” as the first pure white hybrid marigold.

1998 – Burpee’s new “4th of July” is the first medium-sized tomato to ripen by Independence Day. (Except in Siskiyou County! or at least my garden.)

1999 – Burpee introduces the world’s first red sweet corn, “Ruby Queen.”

2002 – Burpee produces the largest sauce tomato ever, “Big Mama.”

2003 – Burpee releases the first hybrid heirloom, “Brandy Boy”, combining the flavor of “Brandwine” and the yield, earliness and disease resistance of “Better Boy.”

2009 – Burpee introduces the world’s first seedless tomato, “Sweet Seedless” hybrid.

2011 – Burpess unveils “Coconut Ice” the first white sunflower and the first black petunia, “Black Cat.”

Whether you are a fan of Burpee or not, these are pretty impressive accomplishments that started with a dream of an 18 year-old; and the family has continued the tradition. Pretty neat!

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