Rosenella Winifred Cruciani "Rose" Totino (January 16, 1915 – June 21, 1994) was an American entrepreneur and pizzeria owner whose frozen pizza business co-founded with her husband became the foundation for the Totino's brand. After selling the company to Pillsbury, Totino became their first female corporate vice president.
Life and career
After dropping out of school at age 16 to support her family by cleaning houses, in 1934 she married James R. "Jim" Totino (1911 – 1981) and remained married until his death by heart attack while vacationing in Las Vegas, Nevada.
They opened their own pizzeria in Minneapolis in 1951, later expanded from take-out only to Totino’s Kitchen with table service. In 1962, they started Totino’s Finer Foods and began mass production of frozen pizzas. They built a plant in Fridley, Minnesota in 1971. Demand continued to grow, and they sold their company to Pillsbury in 1975 for about $22 million in Pillsbury stock.
Totino's grandson Steve Elwell bought the restaurant in 1987 and moved Totino's Kitchen from its original location in August 2007 to a new location in Mounds View, Minnesota. The new location closed in 2011, ending a 60-year run.
The Totinos were involved in Minnesota charities. Totino-Grace High School in Fridley was renamed in their honor in 1980. They also helped finance the Totino Fine Arts Center at Northwestern College in Roseville, Minnesota. Totino died of cancer at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. She was inducted into the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame in 2008.
- Associated Press (December 16, 1981). James Totino.
- Associated Press (September 13, 1976). Pizza magnate was poor.
- Staff report (October 15, 1975). Pillsbury to Acquire Totino's Pizza Firm For $20.3 Million. Wall Street Journal
- Horner, Sarah (June 8, 2011). Totino's Italian Kitchen in Mounds View to close after 60 years. St. Paul Pioneer Press
- Staff report (June 23, 1994). Rose Totino, 79, Frozen-Pizza Maker. New York Times
- Rose Totino - 2008 Inductee via Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame (archive.org)
- Bonnie Totino Brenny: My Mother's Legacy via Minnesota Historical Society
- Totino's Italian Kitchen history
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