In the mid-1800s, Shrewsbury, New Jersey was on course to becoming the ketchup capital of the world with the business headquarters located on Sycamore Avenue. As far back as 1863 tomatoes were being grown and canned on James C. Broadmeadow’s farm on the northeast side of Sycamore Avenue just off of Broad Street. He moved his business into Red Bank and sold the farm to Gordon C. Sickles. Shortly after, in 1883, Edward C. Hazard purchased Sickles’ farm and it became the manufacturing and agricultural site for many of Hazard’s “Shrewsbury Products” that included mayonnaise, burnt onion sauce, jellies, canned mushrooms, asparagus, okra and peppers.
The Hazard Farm grew much of the ingredients that went into these “fancy groceries,” a term that referred to processed, canned, jarred and bottled food products that were sold in specialty shops. These items are now found in grocery stores and markets, but in the 19th and early 20th centuries they were costly and not on the everyday dinner menu.
Edward C. Hazard was a major grocery exporter, manufacturer and distributor of these “fancy groceries.” He used “Shrewsbury” as a brand name for a variety of products he sold and shipped from his New York City-based wholesale grocery business.
When he expanded and moved his headquarters to Shrewsbury, it was a boon for the area as well as his business. Some of the produce used in his concoctions was grown on his land, but much of it was purchased from local farmers, the most popular being the tomato, something the firm referred to as “love apples.” Jersey tomatoes were the ingredient that made the sweet and tangy “Shrewsbury Ketchup,” Hazard’s best known and best selling product. Bottles of ketchup displaying etchings of the factory were sold world-wide and won first place awards at the World’s Fairs and Expositions.
Hazard had a penchant for purity and used tomato kettles lined with pure silver — to avoid fermentation and the ill effects acids had on metal to produce his pure and unadulterated ketchup, the product that would put the business on the map. His factory — designed by Shrewsbury resident Lambert Borden — and laboratories that employed many local residents were well-equipped, state-of-the-art operations, situated on 165 acres of land along Sycamore Avenue.
Hazard became a millionaire due to his recipes for running a prosperous business and making tomato ketchup. At its peak in 1900, Hazard and Company was said to have generated annual revenues in the range of $7 to $9 million.
The King of Ketchup and his large family lived in a grand 40-room mansion called Sycamore Manor on the north side of Sycamore Avenue. The elaborate additions he made, many just after the birth of each of his growing brood, suited his fancy for curved, Queen Anne architecture. The home included a grand ballroom and hosted many important visitors. One of his daughters married Austrian Prince Francis von Auersperg, and another married (former Senator) Alfred Beadleston. His son, Doctor Elmer Hazard, opened Hazard Hospital on Washington Street in Long Branch, where many of his patients included those in need of charity care.
Edward Hazard died in 1905 and is buried in the Christ Church Cemetery on Broad Street. His imposing monument, designed by Daniel Chester French, pays homage to a man larger than life in business and personal matters. He was widowed twice and married three times.
His son-in-law Harry Lord Powers, took over the operations of Hazard’s ketchup factory and purchased Sycamore Manor, the family home. During the credit panic of 1907 that temporarily paralyzed the economy, the company went bankrupt and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania took up the mantle as the Ketchup Capital of the World thanks to 57 Varieties and John C. Heinz.
Through years of neglect Sycamore Manor fell into disrepair and in 1937 was torn down to make room for a new development. A headline in the Red Bank Register, dated March 25, 1937 details the demolition plans:
“The former Hazard property on the north side of Sycamore Avenue, Shrewsbury is to be torn down and placed on the market for home sites. The first step in this transaction is now underway. Shrewsbury Manor, one of the landmarks of this section is being razed. The large brick building where tomato ketchup was formerly made will also be demolished and various other buildings will either be torn down or moved to other locations.”
Winfield Wainright of Little Silver was engaged to raze the home, factory, the mushroom house, a large barn and several outbuildings. Plans were for the two large bungalows to be moved to other locations.
In 1937 the property, located between Broad Street and the Little Silver Train Station, now comprising only 36 acres, was owned by Mrs. Benjamin Parker and her two sons and was divided into eighteen lots measuring 100 by 141 feet on which homes costing not less than $12,000 were to be built. Bricks from the demolished ketchup factory were used as the foundation for the new streets laid out along Sycamore Avenue.
If things had gone according to Edward C. Hazard’s plans and had he lived to ride out the credit panic of 1907, Shrewsbury Manor would still be gracing Sycamore Avenue and Shrewsbury would be the Ketchup Capital of the world!
To the best of her knowledge, Sharon Hazard is not related to the Hazard family of ketchup fame