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Chef Boyardee

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Chef Boyardee
Product typeCanned pasta products
OwnerConagra Brands
CountryUnited States
Introduced1928; 96 years ago (1928)

Chef Boyardee is an American brand of canned pasta products sold internationally by Conagra Brands. The company was founded by Italian immigrant Ettore Boiardi in Milton, Pennsylvania, U.S., in 1928.[1][2]


The Chef Boyardee factory in Milton, Pennsylvania, as seen from across the West Branch Susquehanna River at Central Oak Heights

After leaving his position as head chef at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, Ettore Boiardi opened a restaurant called Il Giardino d'Italia ("The Garden of Italy") in 1924[3] at East 9th Street and Woodland Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio.[4] The idea for Chef Boiardi came about when restaurant customers began asking Boiardi for his spaghetti sauce, which he began to distribute in milk bottles.[3] Four years later, in 1928, Boiardi opened a factory and moved production to Milton, Pennsylvania, where he could grow his own tomatoes and mushrooms.[2] He decided to anglicize the name of his product to "Boy-Ar-Dee" to help Americans pronounce his name correctly.[3] The first product to be sold was a "ready-to-heat spaghetti kit" in 1928. The kit included uncooked pasta, tomato sauce, and a container of pre-grated cheese.[5]

Two Chef Boyardee Mini Bites canned pasta products

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.[2] 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.[6] 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 pastas bearing Boiardi's likeness.[7]


In 2018, Barbara Lippert of Advertising Age compared the 1966 Young & Rubicam ad for Beefaroni to The 400 Blows and running of the bulls. The ad features a large group of children running through Venice singing, "Hooray...for Beefaroni!" Lippert believed the ad influenced other famous commercials such as Prince Spaghetti (known for "Anthony! Anthony!") and "Hilltop" for Coca-Cola.[8]

Chef Boyardee is one of the only brands to request to be removed from an episode of Seinfeld. In the 1996 episode "The Rye", Kramer is allowed to operate a Hansom cab for a week, and feeds the horse excess cans of Beefaroni, which causes frequent and foul smelling flatulence. As a result of the request, the name was changed to "Beef-a-reeno".[9]

In 2005, Chef Boyardee was shown in MasterCard's "Icons" commercial during Super Bowl XXXIX, which depicts advertising mascots having dinner together.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About Us". Chef Boyardee. ConAgra Foods. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Boiardi, Anna; Norris, Michele; Siegel, Robert (17 May 2011). "The Man, The Can: Recipes Of The Real Chef Boyardee". All Things Considered. NPR. Transcript. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Abraham, Lisa (29 November 2011). "Your favorite food icons: Fact or fiction?". The Tribune-Review. Pittsburgh. Archived from the original on 31 January 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  4. ^ Pengo (22 May 2011). "Chef Boyardee". Cleveland Centennial. Retrieved 28 April 2013.[circular reference]
  5. ^ Butler, Stephanie (8 June 2010). "Natural History of the Kitchen: Chef Boyardee". Eat Me Daily. Archived from the original on 3 February 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  6. ^ Kelly, Debra (15 August 2017). "The untold truth of Chef Boyardee". Mashed. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  7. ^ "Meet the Real Man Behind the Brand". Chef Boyardee. ConAgra Foods. Archived from the original on 2 June 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  8. ^ Lippert, Barbara (9 July 2018). "The Chef Whose Beef Got Him Canned". Advertising Age. 89 (15): 32. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  9. ^ Baldwin, Kristen (30 May 1997). "Seinfeld and brand-name products". Entertainment Weekly. Meredith Corporation. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  10. ^ "Mastercard Priceless | Experiences make life more meaningful". Priceless. Retrieved 2023-01-20.

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