W. Atlee Burpee founded his seed business in 1876 and by the 1880's had made a
name for himself in a highly competitive business. Burpee offered not only free
catalogs, but also cash for growing seed from his company. Burpee catalogs often
announced special incentives such as $50 prizes for the three largest Cuban
Queen watermelons or other rewards to the gardeners planting Burpee seeds and
producing the most pods on a Creaseback Pole Bean.
Burpee attributed his success at achieving the country's largest number of
seed orders to the "kind words of our customers." Effective national advertising
also helped. Burpee purchased more advertising than either of his closest
rivals, Peter Henderson and James Vick. When Burpee passed away in 1915,
his enterprise had become the world’s biggest seed company.