Why Did Ford Bottle Its Own Tomato Juice In the 1930s?

Ford is forever going to be synonymous with the automotive industry. Although Henry Ford didn’t invent the car, he is responsible for it as a semi-common household item by the mid-1920s. However, most of us don’t know is, Ford Motor Company was also growing tomatoes, juicing them, and bottling that juice, and selling it during the 1930s. 

Couple stand by their 1909 Ford Model T
Couple stand by their 1909 Ford Touring car in Southern California | Kirn Vintage Stock/Corbis via Getty Images

Did you know that Ford made tomato juice? 

Ford is known for making and revolutionizing so many things across the spectrum of the automotive industry. The Model T wasn’t the first car but it might as well have been. The Model T dropped in 1908 and completely flipped the industry on its head. Even still, Henry Ford’s assembly line would come to be the old tycoon’s legacy. However, maybe Ford should be known for some other stuff, too. Like growing tomatoes, for instance. 

That’s right. Henry Ford grew up a farmer, raised by farmers, who loved farming. Although Ford’s interest in machinery would eventually trump his love of farming, his green thumb never really went away. 

The Ford tomato juice bottle reads;

Ford

TOMATO JUICE

Rich in Vitamins A,B,C

Made from SELECTED TOMATOES

Grown on the

FORD FARMS Dearborn, Michigan

_________

Also good in Tomato Cocktail, Cream of Tomato

Soup, Meat Dressing, etc.

NET CONTENTS :: :: :: :: 16 OZS.

Ford Motor Company

Dearborn, Michigan

How did Herny Ford start growing tomatoes? 

photo of bottled tomato juice from the 1930s made by Henry Ford's farm land
Ford tomato juice | Courtesy Sotheby’s

According to Silodrome, Ford got into the juice business because the company owned thousands of acres that bellied up to the Dearborn, Michigan plant. Since that interest in farming never went away, Henry Ford began farming this connected acreage. 

At some point during the 1930s, he even began offering parcels of land to employees for free. They couldn’t own the land but he would allow them to farm it and keep whatever profits they made from their toils. 

“We cultivate several thousand acres at Dearborn; we also have a dairy herd of around three thousand cows; and near our coal mines in Kentucky, on mountain soil that was not supposed to be good for much of anything, we are growing garden vegetables and fruit.” 

“Most of my own life has been spent on a farm. We are in touch with farming nearly everywhere through the sales of automobiles and tractors.” – Henry Ford, originally published in The Canadian Countryman, circa 1926 (via Silodrome)

How much is a bottle of Henry Ford’s Tomato juice worth? 

Henry Ford In His First Car
Henry Ford posing in the driving seat of his first car, the Quadricycle, New York City, 1910 | Spooner & Wells/Apic/Getty Images

There really isn’t much information left these days about Ford’s farming ventures. While we know Ford did more than just grow tomatoes, this is one of the only examples we have of a Ford branded product from this marketplace. 

This particular bottle of tomato juice is quite rare as it is the only known example of a Ford juice product that still has the product inside. All others that have been found are empty. 

Because car collectors can be a bit obsessive, this bottle of 90-year-old tomato juice is going to auction with Sotheby’s in early September. You can check out the actual item listing here. Sotheby’s has estimated that this old bottle of Ford tomato juice will likely go for between $150-$300. While that may not be an enormous amount of money for a Sotheby’s auction, $300 is an awful lot for some old juice.

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