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This article is about the food product and its derivative term. For other uses, see Tenderoni (disambiguation).
1950s advertising for Tenderoni

Tenderoni is an easy-to-make stovetop macaroni product trademarked and produced by the Stokely Van Camp Food Company. Since its withdrawal from the US market, the name has evolved into an urban slang term for a younger love interest of either gender, or someone too young to talk to or become involved with.

Food product[edit]

The term Tenderoni was originally coined and trademarked in the 1930s by the Stokley Van Camp Food Company. The new pasta entered the pasta market as "Van Camp's Tenderoni." Tenderoni is a narrow, thin-walled, hollow piece of straight macaroni. The product was named Tenderoni because it cooked quickly, was "tender" enough without being starchy, and was considered a macaroni product. Tenderoni was particularly popular in post-war America during the 1940s and 1950s because the product was made from fortified wheat flour and was enjoyed by children. It was also inexpensive to make and sell.

Tenderoni remained in production through the 1970s until it was withdrawn from the market in 1981; the current trademark rights have been owned since 2004 by 200 Kelsey Associates, LLC of New Rochelle, New York.

Slang term[edit]

Cassell's Dictionary of Slang, which defines tenderoni as "a sweet young girl," dates the word to the 1980s, attributing it to black teenagers in the United States.[1] The word gained renewed attention when Bobby Brown used it in his 1988 hit "Roni" to describe a young beautiful girl (Only tenderonis can give you special love / A special kind of love that makes you feel good inside ... And if you find a Tenderoni that is right for you / Make it official / Give her your love / My heart belongs to my 'Roni'") and in the Michael Jackson song "P.Y.T" ("Tenderoni you've got to be / Spark my nature / Sugar fly with me")[citation needed]

Appearances in popular culture[edit]

In popular music: The O'Jay's "She's only a woman" (1975)

In television:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Green, Jonathon (2005). Cassell's Dictionary of Slang (2nd ed.). London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 1423. ISBN 0-304-36636-6. 
  2. ^ Larkin, Colin (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music: Farian, Frank to Mezza, Don. Guinness. p. 1114. ISBN 1-882267-02-8.