Ramón López Irizarry
|Born||July 25, 1897
Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
|Died||October 8, 1982
San Juan, Puerto Rico
|Occupation||Educator and scientist|
Ramón Lopez-Irizarry [note 1] (July 25, 1897 – October 8, 1982) was an educator and scientist who invented an easier way to extract the cream from the coconut pulp and developed the original formula of Coco López.
Ramón López-Irizarry, born in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, was a professor of agricultural sciences at the University of Puerto Rico. In the late 1940s, the Government of Puerto Rico gave a grant to the University of Puerto Rico to assist in the development of Puerto Rican industries.
In 1949, López-Irizarry, with the use of some of these funds, was able to work in his laboratory on an idea that he had. López-Irizarry set out to find an easier way to extract the cream from the coconut pulp. The heart of the coconut has always been an important ingredient in many of the desserts in Puerto Rico. The main problem was extracting the coconut cream from the pulp which was a difficult task. López-Irizarry discovered an easier way by blending the cream from the hearts of the Caribbean coconuts with an exact proportion of natural cane sugar. He named the product which he developed Coco López.
López-Irizarry kept the ingredients of the product a secret. The project was so successful that López-Irizarry soon left the University and commercialized it. Coco López became the basis for the famous piña colada drink, which made its first appearance in 1954. The piña colada is also known as the "Official Beverage of Puerto Rico".
López-Irizarry was very successful, he packaged his product at the Industrias La Famosa canning factory, owned by Wilbert Parkhurst and family, for years. In 1966, he sold the brand to the Parkhurst family who later forged a deal with David Ballachow to distribute the product in the United States. Eventually the Parkhurst family sold the brand to the Borden Co. López-Irizarry's Coco López can be found in supermarkets worldwide.
López-Irizarry was married to Georgina Ramírez-Banuchi and had four children: Rosabel, Myrna, Ramón and Jorge. He resided in Ocean Park, San Juan, where he spent his last years. Ramón López-Irizarry died a multi-millionaire on October 8, 1982.