Follow Alaska's Trails -- On Your Own -- With Bearfoot Travel Magazines

Five Different Types Of Salmon Were Canned At The Libby Cannery: A Bearfoot Report

Salmon Processing Was A Big Industry In Alaska 

Libby, McNeill and Libby was a Chicago company that started out by producing bright red trapezoidal cans of corned beef. You opened the can on the bottom and the chunk of meat just slid right out into the skillet. The company started up in 1875, and quickly grew. In Alaska, Libby's diversified. It operated a large salmon cannery near what is now the city of Kenai, on the Kenai Peninsula.

The fish named on this board are all conveniently limited to names with no more than four letters in them, to make a tidy list. But each salmon also has a longer, completely different name. Reds are also called "Sockeye." Chums are sometimes called "Dog Salmon." Cohos are known as "Silvers." Pinks are called "Humpies." And Kings are also known as "Chinooks." It's confusing. Even to Alaskans.

Fish cannery billboard in Kenai Peninsula, historic
Five types of salmon were canned in Kenai.
In general, the names on that board are the ones commonly used by Alaskans -- except for "Coho." Most Alaskans call a Coho salmon by it's longer name: "Silver." The Libby Cannery is now closed, although there are still a few fish canneries in Alaska, including a Peter Pan Seafood Cannery in Valdez, which produces both canned and flash frozen salmon.

In the 1970's, in the early days of mass TV marketing -- exactly a century after the national Libby company was started -- jingles were popular. There was one for Libby products that appealed to children, who took the rhyme with them to their school playgrounds: "If it says Libby's, Libby's, Libby's, on the label, label, label -- you will like it, like it, like it, on your table, table, table!"

Today, Libby, McNeill and Libby is probably best known as the company that provides America with pureed canned pumpkin for its millions of Thanksgiving Day pies. Pumpkins are a safer bet than fish.  Pumpkins can be harvested, in the fields of America, far easier than operating a distant Alaska salmon cannery 3,700 miles from home.

The historic Libby Cannery was torn down a few years ago. 

Share this post

Post a comment


Next Post
Newer Post
Previous Post
Older Post

Contact Us At Bearfoot

Bearfoot Travel Magazines A Division Of Northcountry Communications, Inc. Jeremy Weld Linda Weld Tim Weld 2440 East Tudor #122 Anchorage, Alaska 99507 907 320-1145 Fax: 1 800 478 8301