The DelGrosso Food Tradition
A Family Tradition Since 1914
Marianna Pulcino immigrated to America in 1911, bringing with her an old-world recipe for pasta sauce. She established Mom's Cafe on Walton Avenue in Altoona, Pennsylvania where she served up her classic dishes to the delight of hungry patrons.
In 1936, Marianna's daughter Mafalda was waiting tables at the cafe when Ferdinand DelGrosso, a handsome young railroader, walked through the door and sat at her table. They fell in love instantly.
"Fred" and "Murf" would later be married, and in 1943, they bought a small restaurant on 17th Street and called it DelGrosso's Cafe. With the help of Marianna's original sauce recipe, the restaurant soon became famous for the "best spaghetti dinner in town."
The idea to commercially manufacture pasta sauce took root when Fred noticed restaurant customers offering to pay extra to take home a small portion of the sauce. Fred immediately saw the potential to market and sell their quality Italian sauces, and in 1946, he sold DelGrosso's Cafe and bought nearby Bland's Amusement Park.
From the park kitchen, Fred and Murf worked 10-hour days to make one "batch" of five cases, using four 10-gallon pots and a hand sealer, which took 24 revolutions to seal one can. Fred and two long-time friends from Altoona formed a small sales force and gradually increased distribution by "pounding the pavement."
Growth and Expansion
The first expansion took place in 1951, when Fred built a small cooking room behind Bland's Park. It contained four 20-gallon, gas-fired, hand-stirred kettles and an automatic can sealer. The sauce was still poured by hand, one can at a time by family members using pot holders. A "batch" of sauce now took about eight hours to can, and production was up to 10-12 cases. Also at this time, each can was hand labeled with a paper label bearing the company's logo. This process literally took hours, but the DelGrosso family was proud of its products and wanted to establish a tradition to pass on to the next generation.
For the next 25 years, the small block building expanded several times to accommodate the growing business. Occasionally, the small DelGrosso plant was unable to warehouse the finished product it produced. During these times, guests at Bland's Park could see forklifts crisscrossing the grounds as they moved finished product to the former Bland's Park Skating Rink for storage.
In 1979, DelGrosso Foods moved into a new state-of-the-art production facility across the road from Bland's Park. In the decades since, the sauce plant has undergone numerous expansions and upgrades, all while maintaining the quality and authenticity of each and every jar that comes off the production line. In late 2000, the DelGrosso Family put their name on their beloved amusement park, and has since been known as DelGrosso's Amusement Park.
A Family Affair
In 2006, DelGrosso Foods introduced a new line of specialty gourmet sauces called La Famiglia DelGrosso, made with whole peeled imported Italian plum tomatoes and other specialty ingredients. Distribution of the new line spread quickly throughout the United States as "foodies" far and wide reveled in the unique flavor and personalities of the sauces that were individually created by members of the DelGrosso family. In 2008, the DelGrosso Organic line was introduced to the delight of organic lifestyle enthusiasts everywhere.
In recent years, the DelGrosso family has been featured in numerous news stories and TV appearances nation-wide. Members of the DelGrosso family and their sauces have appeared on NBC's "TODAY" show, The Food Network, ABC's "The View," and numerous magazines including Natural Health, Every Day With Rachel Ray, Men's Health, Women's Health and Gourmet.
The DelGrosso story is quintessentially American and represents the hopes and dreams of family members spanning several generations. Now in its third generation, DelGrosso Foods has taken its place among the most highly-regarded producers of fine sauces anywhere. It continues as the oldest major family-owned manufacturer of pasta sauce in the United States and as the proud stewards of "The Finest Sauce Made."