Pizza and Chef Boiardi

We all know that pizza is an Italian American food, brought to America by Italian immigrants who came here in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Americans did not find Italian food appealing at first. Garlic was an offensive flavor. But over the years, Italian food has become a staple in the American diet, particularly pizza. Ettore Boiardi, better known as Chef Boy-ar-dee, is credited with giving Americans the taste for tomato sauce, garlic, cheese, and pasta.

Boiardi immigrated to New York in 1914. He worked at the Plaza Hotel, eventually becoming head chef.nIn 1917, he headed to Cleveland and worked at the Hotel Winton on Prospect Ave. Ten years later, he opened his first restaurant, Il Giardino d’ Italia (The Italian Garden), on East 9th and Woodland Avenue.

Due to demand, Boiardi began selling packages with sauce, a small chunk of parmesan, and pasta to customers. The business and his customer base grew so much that by 1938 he had to move to a factory in Milton, Pennsylvania. He sold to ConAgra Foods in 1946, but continued to serve as the spokesman for the products. The Chef Boy-ar-dee pizza kit first appeared in the market in 1955 and included all the ingredients to make a pizza at home. The pizza kits are still available in stores today.