Chef Boyardee Commercial 2002


After leaving his position as head chef at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, Boiardi opened a restaurant called Il Giardino d'Italia in 1924 at East 9th Street and Woodland Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. The idea for Chef Boyardee came about when restaurant customers began asking Boiardi for his spaghetti sauce, which he began to distribute in milk bottles. Four years later, in 1928, Boiardi opened a factory and moved production to Milton, Pennsylvania, where he could grow his own tomatoes and mushrooms. He decided to name his product "Boy-Ar-Dee" to help Americans pronounce his name correctly. The first product was to be sold as a "ready-to-heat spaghetti kit" in 1928. The kit included uncooked pasta, tomato sauce, and a container of pre-grated cheese.

The U.S. military commissioned the company during World War II for the production of army rations, requiring the factory to run 24 hours a day. At its peak, the company employed approximately 5,000 workers and produced 250,000 cans per day. After the war ended, Boiardi had to choose between selling the company or laying off everyone he had hired. He sold the company to American Home Foods in 1946 for nearly $6 million and remained as a spokesman and consultant for the brand until 1978. American Home Foods turned its food division into International Home Foods in 1996. Four years later, International Home Foods was purchased by ConAgra Foods, which continues to produce Chef Boyardee canned pasta bearing Boiardi's likeness.


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