The ABCs of Lowell History: H is for Hallmark Beans

The ABCs of Lowell History is back for another round. This popular series explores a wide variety of topics in Lowell area history in weekly online articles and is written by volunteers and staff from the Lowell Area Historical Museum.

H is for Hallmark Beans

The advertisement reads, “Grandma took all day…you can fix delicious home-baked beans in just 30 minutes!” Lowell’s own, Hallmark Beans used to grace dining tables across the nation in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Hallmark baked beans came in a box, like today’s macaroni and cheese products. You added ingredients such as brown sugar and molasses. The beans were marrowfat beans. They were known for being creamy, with a faint taste of bacon.

The secret to their success was that Hallmark developed a pre-cooking process. The beans were precooked and then dried again. This eliminated the time-consuming process of soaking beans. They were inexpensive and easy to make. Hallmark advertised Michigan beans with every single bean examined by a “wonderful electric eye”.

The production process was a closely guarded company secret. Richard Thomas Keely, plant manager from 1967-1974 while working at Hallmark, filed for a patent on September 18, 1969, on an “apparatus and method for Hydrokinetically cooking legume”. He was granted a patent on March 6, 1973.

The face of Hallmark Beans was Maggie Babcock. She encouraged people to write for the Hallmark Bean Recipe Book. The instructions were to send your name, address and ten cents to cover handling.

Memories abound of the Hallmark Beans Side Dish.

“Hallmark Beans had amazing flavor and I would love to find them again! Someone should revive this excellent product. I’ll never forget that fragrance thru the house as they baked!”

“As a young married woman (47 years ago) my mother-in-law introduced me to Hallmark Beans, and they were the best. They were the only beans I made.”

“My grandma would never share her baked bean recipe…turns out it was Hallmark Beans right out of the box!”

Hallmark Beans was a division of the C.H. Runciman Company, which sold grains and beans within the United States and Canada. The Runciman Company consolidated with J. P. Burroughs and Son, Inc.

Hallmark Beans, produced in Lowell, are remembered today. A recent Amazon review on a dehydrated bean product states, “I have been looking for a bean and recipe for the old Hallmark dried beans my mom used to make. I searched and found it!”

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