4 Major Brands Originating From Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is a city of innovation. With the news that The Milkshake Factory is launching a franchising program, it seemed like an ideal time to highlight some of the major, successful brands that started right here in the City of Bridges.


Founded in 1869 in Sharpsburg, F & J Heinz began with Henry J. Heinz, his brother, and a cousin. While they are known for their ketchup, did you know that Heinz was a pioneer in applying science and technology to solve problems such as bacterial contamination? The company also offered employees — many of them women — clean uniforms, locker rooms and shower facilities, healthy lunches in comfortable cafeterias, and much more. In 2015, the company merged with Kraft to become the fifth-largest food and beverage company in the world and third largest in the country.


Founded in 2011 by Carnegie Mellon University professor Luis von Ahn and grad student Severin Hacker, Duolingo uses a “freemium model” with 60.7 million monthly active users, and has a net worth of $5.37 billion. But instead of residing in Silicon Valley as many significant tech companies do, they chose Pittsburgh to hang their hats. They have also helped attract investment capital to other Pittsburgh companies.


Founded in Creighton, PA in 1883 as the first commercially successful plate-glass factory in the United States, Pittsburgh Plate Glass became the world’s first glass plant to power itself with local natural gas. By 1900, PPG represented 65% of the US plate-glass market and was the nation’s second-largest producer of paint. Currently, it is a Fortune 500 corporation with 150 manufacturing locations around the world.


In 1833, Swiss cheesemaker Christian Isaly moved with his family to Monroe County, Ohio, and expanded from cheesemaking to dairy farming. Then, they opened a chain of retail stores in Ohio, West Virginia, and Western Pennsylvania. Their famous Skyscraper Cones, butter, cheese, baked ham, bologna, signature Chipped Chopped Ham, and Old Fashioned Whitehouse Cherry Ice Cream became Pittsburgh staples. The brand is now owned by Conroy Foods.

Story by Natalie Bencivenga

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