Character of the Week: Chef Boyardee

Retro Staff |  Comments

The man we see on Chef Boyardee products is based on a real person.  He came to America from Piacenza, Italy in 1914 as Ettore Boiardi, and made his home in New York City.  At 16 years of age, he worked as a chef in the Plaza Hotel kitchen.  A few years later he moved to Cleveland and worked as head chef at the Hotel Winton.

People began to request samples and recipes for his spaghetti sauce, and his reputation grew by word of mouth.  Boiardi decided to open his own Italian restaurant named Giardino d’Italia, and business was booming.  His sauce was in such high demand he decided to package it and sell it.  In 1928 he opened a factory to keep up with all of the orders, and shortly after, he began to sell the product nationally.  The business expanded to include canned pasta and boxed dinners.

For the sake of business, he changed his name on the product to Chef Boy-Ar-Dee so that Americans would be able to pronounce it easily.  Later on, the hyphens were removed and the brand name became Chef Boyardee, the one we see today.

Americans loved the tasty meals that did not take very long to cook or prepare.  Chef Boyardee pasta came in a box with the sauce and cheese mix included.  This became the example others would follow when creating boxed meals.

Although he moved the factory to Milton, PA and eventually sold the business, he was kept as the face on the front of the packages.  Boiardi’s image is still to this day the face we associate with many kinds of Chef Boyardee canned pasta.

“Thank goodness for Chef Boyardee.”

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Last updated: May 27, 2009
Filed under: Retro Characters Tagged with: Boiardi, Chef Boy-Ar-Dee, Chef Boyardee