Snaxshot #55: Market Your Sauce
restaurant to retail
Snaxshot is a newsletter on upcoming food and beverage trends that offers a curation of brands and aesthetics written by Andrea Hernández.
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Often times thought of as a fictional character à la Betty Crocker, Chef Bo-yar-dee was in fact, a real person. Once a head chef at the NYC Plaza Hotel back in the 1920s, Ettore Boiardi, moved to Cleveland, Ohio and opened Il Giardino d’ Italia (Italy’s Garden) —his spaghetti sauce was so iconic at the time, or at least for folks in Cleveland back in 1924, they began asking him for sauce to go, and thus begins our origin story, sauce distributed in milk bottles. In 1927, Boiardi met Maurice and Eva Weiner who were patrons of his restaurant and owners of a local self-service grocery store chain, (we stan independent grocers) the Weiners helped Boiardi bois develop a process for canning the food at scale AND helped them procure distribution across the US through their grocery's wholesale partners (ICONS) Thus, Boiardi's product soon began to be stocked in markets nationwide and to meet the growing demand, ChefBoi had to open a production factory in Milton, PA where they were now able to grow his own tomatoes and mushrooms.
To make it easier for Americans, he anglicized his product’s name to “Boy-Ar-Dee” to facilitate the pronounciation of his actual name, classic USA. The first packaged product was “RTH” (ready-to-heat) spaghettti kit that launched in 1928, which included uncooked pasta, tomato sauce and pre-grated cheese in different containers witihin a box, the vibe was on point IMO, brands could benefit from bringing back this aesthetic, but not you Barilla, you try too fucking hard. Anyways, back to our story—did you know Ettore Boiardi is truly an American hero?
Prior to getting into his own restaurant, he worked his way up to head chef at the kitchen of the infamous Plaza Hotel, after having immigrated following his brother Paolo to NYC. Did you know our ChefBoi actually supervised the preparation of the homecoming meal served by Woodrow Wilson at the White House to celebrate 2,000 WWI returning soldiers, Ettore was SERVING, OK! Oh you thought we were done with this part—nope, later on the American military, yes THAT ONE, literally commissioned them to produce rations that would supply Allied troops during WWII, subsequently, he was rewarded The Gold Star, one of the highest honors a civilian can receive, in honor of the company's wartime efforts.
Alas, though life can deal you incredible pasta-bilities, things can quickly go from spaghetti to regret-ti, ChefBoi found himself struggling with cash flow and internal family strains over ownership and direction of the company as they managed rapid internal growth. He was left with the decision to sell his brand to American Home Foods, later turned to International Home Foods, for about $5.96 million, which would later become an incredible profitable investment for AH as Chef Boy-Ar-Dee would become one of the leading canned food brand names in the US. At its highest peak, the company employed almost 5,000 workers that produced 250,000 cans per day.