Heinz Beanz Vs. American-Style Baked Beans: What's The Difference?

Is there any better accompaniment to hot dogs, meatloaf, or grilled chicken than a scoop of rich, comforting baked beans? A popular dish in the United States, particularly the New England region, since at least the 1800s (via Serious Eats), baked beans, as most of us know them today, are typically dried, soaked white beans that are simmered and then slow-baked in a rich sauce of their cooking liquid plus flavorful ingredients such as molasses, mustard, onion, and cured pork, usually in the form of salt pork or slab bacon (via Serious Eats) — or poured out of a can and heated up.

Of course, that sweet-savory combination described above is the American — and, by most accounts, original — version of the dish. As noted by Britain Explained, canned (or tinned, in the local dialect) baked beans are all the rage, far more popular overseas than the native American dish is at home. The British enjoy canned baked beans as part of a traditional English breakfast, as a side dish to fish and chips, piled on top of toast, and in many more ways, according to Culinary Ginger. The predominant brand of baked beans stocked across the pond is Heinz, an American-founded label that first put baked beans in a can in 1895 (via Heinz), but the version sold in Britain as Heinz Beanz has been tweaked over time to accommodate British tastes.

Heinz Beanz are meat-free, with a thin tomato sauce

In the U.S., when you open a can of baked beans, you'll find navy beans in a thick, rich sauce with plenty of brown sugar, as well as bits of cured bacon (via Bush's). Smoky and sweet, American-style canned baked beans are typically heated up — sometimes right in the can — and served alongside cookout food such as hot dogs, and are a nifty item to have on hand when camping (via Gone Outdoors).

But across the pond in the United Kingdom — which accounts for the great majority of all canned baked bean consumption (via Britain Explained) — the tinned baked beans sold as Heinz Beanz are a very different bean, indeed. British-style baked beans are meatless and come in a thin, tomato-based sauce that's not smoky or sweet like U.S. versions, according to Culinary Ginger. As Lovefood recounts, Heinz baked beans were first marketed, along with other products from the company's lineup, at fancy British department stores in the late 1800s. The baked beans quickly distinguished themselves as a UK favorite, but over time the recipe was changed to be less sweet, in order to favor British palates. Due to wartime rationing during World War II, according to the site, bacon was removed from the baked beans and was never added back to the recipe.

So there you have it: like "tomayto" and "tomahto," canned baked beans are oh so very different in the U.S. and the U.K.