Yesterday’s talk of pasta and a box of spaghetti sitting on a countertop made me realize I knew next to nothing about my all-time favorite brand of pasta. Where did San Giorgio come from? Where did it come from originally, and where did it come from now?
The San Giorgio site brought me a brand history.
Born in Reggio Calabria, Italy, in 1890, Guerrisi came to America at the age of 12 and soon became a water boy at a stone quarry in New York. Then he took a job in a Bronx foundry. A few years later he moved to Harrisburg and earned some money as a dish washer.
One Sunday he visited a friend in nearby Lebanon and decided to stay over until Monday to find a job. Though he had little command of English, he was hired by the Keystone Fruit Company to deliver fruit with a horse drawn cart, because, he was told, the horse knew where to make the stops. Some six years later, in 1910, Guerrisi bought the fruit company and soon had 11 salesmen and six delivery trucks.
The tiny pasta business he bought in 1914 and named the Keystone Macaroni Manufacturing Company was located on Sixth Street. It was turning out about 100 pounds, or ten boxes, of macaroni per day….
Then a company history summarized the name. “In 1914, he took over the Keystone Macaroni Company in Lebanon, Pennsylvania from an elderly Italian macaroni maker and renamed it San Giorgio Macaroni.”
From there, I turned to the International Directory of Company Histories, courtesy Answers.com. San Giorgio went into Hershey hands in the ’60s, where it thrived as those hands stayed somewhat hands-off. The group chief told Milking and Baking News, which must be one of the world’s more delicious periodicals, “pasta products purchased today are the same that a mother or grandmother purchased.” (Having grown up in a San Giorgio house, I couldn’t agree more.)
Around the turn of the century, Hershey spun off the group as New World Pasta. It subsequently went into bankruptcy, thanks in part of faulty computer software, Baseline reported. According to The Manufacturer, the company emerged a year later and soon became part of another multinational corporation. This corp reportedly had its heart closer to pasta than chocolate.
Boring Hoovers manuevers, you say? I thought so too — until I found the world’s most advanced pasta factory may exist here in Northern Virginia. Soon after opening, Prepared Foods named the factory its 1993 “Processor the Year” and wrote a massive cover story on it.
The story told of pasta birthing, milling, flying through space, the product of machines yet machines that cared enough to create quality, box after box after box in a system temptingly flexible to demand. I couldn’t find any information on whether time had since passed this factory by. But I did find it hiring electricians.