A trip to the Heinz Beanz Muzeum

Review: It does what it says on the tin.

Rat­ing: 55

Ah, the hum­ble baked bean. The warm sal­va­tion after a long day. Uni stu­dents fork them into their mouths straight out of the tin, par­ents reach for a tin when they’re too tired to fol­low a Nigel­la recipe mid-week. You can eat beans on toast, you can add beans to a fry up. They’re a very ver­sa­tile – and deli­cious – snack.

For many, Beanz Meanz Heinz. So much so that us Brits get through a stag­ger­ing 540m turquoise tins a year. While firm­ly root­ed in Pitts­burg, Penn­syl­va­nia, Heinz has become quite the Roy­al War­rant­ed icon. Beanz, ketchup, mayo. All sta­ples in our stodgy, carb-heavy diets through­out our teens, but nev­er far from reach ever since those hazy days.

So with the much-loved brand turn­ing the ripe old age of 150, it seems only right that they cel­e­brate in style. Sort of like a roy­al coro­na­tion drip­ping in orange sauce.

The Heinz Beanz Muzeum, locat­ed in Covent Garden’s White Space, has all the charm, his­to­ry and taste one needs for an exhi­bi­tion based on the most ubiq­ui­tous of British kitchen staples.

Take a step through the entrance – an orange bal­loon arch, like a Beanz gate­way to heav­en – and you’ll be mouthing wow!”, real­ly?”, no way!” at the wall of 150-years of his­to­ry. Did you know Beanz was first sold in the UK at posh Fort­num & Mason’s for 9d2.15 in today’s coin) in 1901? As a lux­u­ry item, no less. 

And did you know that The Who’s Roger Dal­try claimed to have caught pneu­mo­nia after lay­ing in a tub-full of Beanz for their The Who Sell Out album art­work? The Beanz were frozen the night before, so that explains the pneu­mo­nia. In case you were wondering.

You’ll also find an 18-carat gold bean nes­tled on a pil­low in a glass con­tain­er in the Muzeum sort of like the Crown Jew­els, and for the inner child in you, a Heinz Beanz slide which lands you in a pool of orange balls. Per­fect for any­one whose fan­ta­sy is swim­ming in a can of orange good­ness. We know who you are.

Per­haps the only let down is the lack of con­sum­able Beanz on toast. Wouldn’t it be ace to eat the meal of all meals while sur­round­ed by its rich his­to­ry? Sort of like eat­ing lamb while over­look­ing a farm, but with­out the aching guilt. 

For many, it’ll be a nos­tal­gic ride remem­ber­ing school din­ners of jack­et pota­to cheese and Beanz, or the sim­ple but so effec­tive teen-sta­ple chips, cheese and Beanz. For oth­ers – the under 5’s – it’ll be an intro to the food that’s sure to fuel them for many years to come, whether eat­en cold and straight from the tin at Glas­ton­bury or to cov­er the taste of mum’s burnt casserole.

Sure, the Muzeum won’t be win­ning Turn­er Prizes any­time soon, but it’s safe to say it has won the prize of my heart. That’s right, I love Beanz. Even more so than I did when I walked in.


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