Continuing a Legacy
In the 1950s and ’60s, the Burpee company became allied with another horticultural enterprise, George J. Ball, Inc. By the 1980s, the two companies had become interdependent, underscoring Burpee’s commitment to offering only the best, from whatever source. George Ball bought W. Atlee Burpee & Company in 1991 and became the company’s President. Under new leadership, Burpee headed toward the 21st century breeding innovative vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers that were to bring the company fresh attention and new customers.
In the 1990s, the company introduced many notable firsts including tomatoes, ‘Northern Exposure’ for cooler regions and ‘Heatwave’ for hotter ones, ‘African Queen’, the first yellow impatiens, ‘Ruby Queen’, the first red sweet corn, and ‘Roly-Poly’, the first perfectly round zucchini. The 1990s also saw a resurgent interest in heirlooms, prized for their old-fashioned flavor. Among the most sought-after heirlooms were Burpee-bred introductions from the late 19th and early 20th century, including tomatoes ‘Brandywine’, ‘Matchless’, and ‘Quarter Century’, the green beans ‘Tenderpod’, ‘Stringless’, and ‘Bush Lima’, and the first ‘Golden’ beet.
Since 2000, Burpee has been faithful to the company’s heritage of introducing innovative tomato varieties, including ‘Fourth of July’, the earliest slicing picnic tomato, ‘SuperSauce’, a scrumptious, practically seedless paste tomato six times the size of ‘Roma’, ‘Brandy Boy’, the world’s first “heirloom hybrid”, and ‘Steakhouse’, the world’s largest hybrid tomato, a phenomenon averaging 2½ to 3 pounds per fruit.
Burpee remains at the forefront of the new and spectacular. Food lovers clamor for more delicious flavors and textures; flower gardeners seek out eye-catching blooms they’ve never seen before. Since 1876, through good times and bad, Burpee has been a beacon of excellence for American gardeners. Today, when we are surrounded by amazing technological wonders, nothing compares to the enchantment of planting a seed and watching it grow into something marvelous.
Today, Burpee is one of the world’s foremost home garden seed and plant companies. We breed and grow plants and produce seed worldwide at our locations in the United States, the United Kingdom, Holland, and India.
“A business that has no vision of the future or the object of which is mere money-making would not be worth a life’s work.”— W. Atlee Burpee