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Chef Boyardee

An Ad for Chef Boyardee Spaghetti

Food History

Where would the doo-wop era popular culture be without Chef Boyardee? Convenience foods produced consistent results and helped to feed the family quickly.

Chef Boyardee was a real chef named Ettore Boiardi (1897-1985). He was born in Piacenza, Italy and came to America when he was teenager. Boiardi used the phonetic spelling of Boy-AR-Dee to promote his many products and to help Americans pronounce his name properly.

Boiardi was a hotel chef, restaurant owner, and entrepreneur. At his restaurant Il Giardino d’Italia in Cleveland, when customers asked for samples of his spaghetti sauce, he supplied it to them in old milk bottles. This became a business in itself. He began to use a factory and even grew tomatoes and mushrooms in the basement to make sure the ingredients were of good quality.

Boiardi was a patriot as well. Among other accomplishments, he catered  Woodrow Wilson’s homecoming meal for 2,000 World War I troops. During World War II, Boiardi’s company prepared millions of rations for American and Allied troops. His factory ran round the clock, every day of the week. The U.S. War Department awarded him a gold star order of excellence for his service. After selling his business to American Home Foods, which later became International Home Foods and the ConAgra Foods, Boiardi invested in steel mills, which produced goods used during the Korean War.

He became a popular icon through his ads, commercials, and picture on the products. Click here to see him showing his spaghetti dinner kit, which feeds three people and helps keep the cost of your meals down at only about 15 cents a serving.

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