July 29, 2016

Hector was a particularly precious teenager.

In 1914, at the age of sixteen, he hopped from Ellis Island straight to the kitchens at the Plaza and the Ritz in New York. Then, after a few years in the United States, he caught the entrepreneurial bug. And he and his wife decided to open Giardino d’Italia, a restaurant in Cleveland.

At that time, most fine dining was French, so Ohioans went crazy for fancy Italian food, standing in long lines to eat at Giardino.

Two frequent visitors - Maurice and Eva Weiner - owned a chain of grocery stores, and they loved Hector’s food so much that they asked if he wanted to sell prepackaged meals in their stores.

People went nuts over his meals.

By the late 1920s, Hector had to move production out of his restaurant and into a factory. The factory ultimately churned out more than 250,000 cans of food a day, asked farmers to grow more tomatoes to keep up with demand, and became the biggest importer of parmesan cheese in the U.S.

Have you guessed who our historic innovator is yet? Listen to the segment above for the big reveal. Here’s a hint: he’s still a household name today.

innovation hub, pri, Kara Miller, Chef Boyardee, WGBH

Previous Post

What’s Happening to Cooking in America?

Next Post

The People Powering AI Decisions

comments powered by Disqus