Food - Drink
Bumble Bee Seafood Company Didn't Start Out Canning Tuna
By ALEX SCHAUER
Bumble Bee is one of the many famous canned tuna brands in the market today. The company has a 120-year history tied to the fishing industry in Oregon, but the brand started out with a different fish altogether, and this species has a role in the American seafood trade that goes back even further than 120 years.
According to the NW Council, various Native American tribes have a long history of trading salmon and other types of fish with white settlers around the Pacific Coast of Oregon and the Columbia River. By the end of the 1800s, the American fishing industry proper came into its own, and salmon was the primary source of harvest.
In 1899, during the "Great Salmon Rush," Bumble Bee debuted in the city of Astoria, where several small fishing companies formed the Columbia River Packers Association. The CRPA built a cannery on Alaska's Bristol Bay dedicated to salmon, but by the 1930s, waters began warming up and albacore tuna swam into the area.
Fishers soon realized that since tuna is larger than salmon, processing them offered significant savings on labor. The popularity of tuna skyrocketed, and in the 1960s, the CRPA officially adopted the name Bumble Bee, and while the brand's most famous export is tuna, they still offer salmon, crab, oysters, scallops, clams, and more.