Thursday, November 20, 2008

Canning Fans!

So, how many of you identified the thing or place in Monday’s photo? Forgot what it looked like. Scroll down or click here, and then come back.

See. They are industrial fans at the cannery on the corner of East and Hawkins streets.

Once upon a time, there used to be two canneries—Fairview and Hollister—one on each side of South Street. I don’t recall which was where. For the longest time, these canneries made up the biggest non-farming industry in Hollister—for all of San Benito County for that matter. The majority of the jobs, like the farming ones, were seasonal.

Each cannery went through several owners, going from the original locals to different corporate canning companies. The Hollister cannery eventually became San Benito Foods, while Fairview became Tri-Valley Growers. In the 1990s, Tri-Valley Growers closed and San Benito Foods took over its buildings and machinery.

San Benito Foods cans different tomato products. In my ancient days, the two canneries also processed spinach, peaches, and apricots. Maybe other stuff, I don’t know.

I often wondered where the canned products were sold. I’ve never tasted them. I read at the San Benito Foods Web site that their canned tomatoes are famously delicious. I wonder where. Maybe if I’m ever there, I can buy a can and find out for myself just how awesome they taste, if they do.

Some links to check out:


  1. Susie,
    I worked at the cannery the summer of '71 and don't remember anything but tomatoes being canned. Also, some years ago I was at the Kahala Mandarin in Hawaii, and the little food hut by the pool had a case of San Benito tomatoes delivered.....same label. Mary Ryan

  2. Mary,
    That must've been a bit of a mindblower to see the tomatoes in Hawaii....I have a vague memory of spinach when we were much younger, but I'm gonna further check into it. I'd based the bit about canning Popeye's love, peaches, and apricots on an interview (in the Pinnacle) with Bud Garrett. He'd mentioned that in the 1920s, he and his siblings worked on those three and tomatoes at the Hollister cannery.

    Thanks for stopping by! Until later.

  3. I received an e-mail from the San Benito County Historical Society the other day. The folks there wrote: "... spinach was indeed processed as well as apricots. Peaches often ended up in cans of fruit cocktail, although if there were exceptional ones they might have ended up in a few special cases of canned peaches."

    Thank you, Sheila, Verona, and Paulie!



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