Fortnum & Mason is known as the Queen’s grocer because it supplies food to the royal family. This is an upmarket department store based in London, so it was very surprising when it introduced a cheap food item to the U.K.

The Queen’s grocer is mostly associated with around 200 varieties of indulgent tea, luxury hampers and fine china table sets. Plus, aside from Queen Elizabeth’s royal household, it also supplied provisions to some of the highly regarded expeditions in history, as per The Telegraph

It was reported that Fortnum & Mason, despite being popular for selling luxury goods, became the first store to ever sell the baked beans in the U.K. Likewise, the food item is considered a peasant food, and the Queen’s grocer started selling it for the first time in the region. Today, it is a favorite in the British country. 

H.J. Heinz, founder of the American food processing company, visited the United Kingdom in the 1880s, and since Fortnum & Mason is a popular store for ready-to-eat meals and canned food, he thought that it was the perfect place to sell his products outside of the U.S.

Fortnum & Mason Fortnum & Mason brightly lit up for Xmas. Dun.can/Flickr

According to Express, Jon Stobart, a retail historian at Manchester Metropolitan University, explained that the humble baked beans unexpectedly fitted in at the luxurious grocery because, at that time, they were considered a novelty and exotic food product.

“So in the 1880s Fortnum and Mason had a reputation for being a high-class grocer and provision merchant and also as somewhere that sold ready meals, tinned food, preserved food of all different sorts,” the historian said. “They’re a novelty, a new thing, they’re therefore a little bit exotic, a little bit unusual so — it fits in with the kinds of things Fortnum and Mason are selling.”

More than a century has passed, and the link between the Queen’s grocer and Heinz Baked Beanz remained strong. Fortnum & Mason even reinvented Heinz’s famous product and introduced a line of gourmet baked beans in six unique flavors in 2014. Finally, to celebrate Heinz’s 150th birthday, the company teamed up with the royal food supplier to create the limited edition Fortnum & Mason labels for Heinz’s classic products. 

Heinz Baked Beans Image of a can of Heinz baked beans. Extraterrestrial Bob ExtraterrestrialBob/Flickr