The Original Chef Boyardee Spaghetti Dinner

Tasting History with Max Miller
12 Mar 202419:07

Summary

TLDRThe video script explores the origins of Chef Hector Boiardi, the man behind the Chef Boyardee brand, and his journey from a young chef in Italy to a renowned figure in the American food industry. It delves into the history of his famous spaghetti dinners and the creation of his brand, which revolutionized canned pasta. The script also includes a detailed recipe for making spaghetti a la Boiardi, using a combination of tomatoes, beef, vegetables, and mushrooms, and highlights the cultural impact of Chef Boiardi's products, which became a staple in American households during the Great Depression and World War II.

Takeaways

  • ūüć≥ Chef Boyardee was a real person, Chef Hector Boiardi, who was born in Borgonovo, Italy in 1897.
  • ūüĎ®‚Äćūüć≥ He started his career in the restaurant industry at a young age, working at high-end restaurants in Paris and London before moving to America.
  • ūüĆć Ettore Boiardi, later known as Hector Boyardee, arrived in New York City in 1914 to join his brother and worked at The Plaza Hotel.
  • ūüć≤ Boyardee gained fame in Cleveland, Ohio, for his spaghetti dinners at his restaurant, Il Giardino d'Italia, leading to requests for take-home portions.
  • ūü•ę The demand for Chef Boyardee's take-home spaghetti dinners led to the creation of Chef Boyardee Food Company in 1928, producing canned pasta sauces and meals.
  • ūüŹ≠ During World War II, Chef Boyardee shifted production to supply rations for soldiers, becoming one of the top suppliers for C and K rations.
  • ūüďą Post-war, Chef Boyardee continued to grow, becoming the number one seller of Italian food in the US and introducing products like ravioli and pizza.
  • ūüďļ Chef Hector Boiardi appeared on television in the 1950s, promoting his brand and products, which became a household name.
  • ūüßÄ The original Chef Boyardee spaghetti dinners included butter and Parmesan cheese, creating a creamy and flavorful dish without added sugar.
  • ūüĒĄ The brand has changed hands multiple times, leading to recipe alterations that affected the taste of the sauce.
  • ūüõ†ÔłŹ The video script provides a detailed recipe for making spaghetti a la Boiardi, allowing viewers to recreate the classic dish at home.

Q & A

  • What was the original name of the Chef Boyardee brand?

    -The original name of the brand was Chef Hector Boiardi, named after its founder Ettore Boiardi who later Americanized his name to Hector Boiardi.

  • What was unique about Chef Boiardi's tomato sauce recipe?

    -Chef Boiardi's tomato sauce recipe was unique because it did not initially include garlic, as it was influenced by the cooking styles of Northern Italy, where garlic is not commonly used in tomato sauce.

  • How did Chef Boiardi become famous in America?

    -Chef Boiardi became famous in America for his spaghetti dinners served at his restaurant, Il Giardino d'Italia, in Cleveland, Ohio. Customers loved the meals so much that they asked for extra portions to take home, leading to the creation of the canned pasta meals.

  • What was the significance of the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia in Chef Boiardi's career?

    -There are conflicting stories about Chef Boiardi's time at the Greenbrier Resort. Some claim he catered President Woodrow Wilson's wedding reception there, but this is disputed as the wedding took place in Washington DC. A more plausible connection is that he may have organized a meal for troops returning from World War I at the resort.

  • How did the Chef Boyardee brand evolve after its initial success?

    -After its initial success, the Chef Boyardee brand expanded its product line to include not only sauces but also dried pasta and grated Parmesan cheese, creating a complete meal. The brand became the number one seller of Italian food in the United States.

  • What impact did World War II have on Chef Boyardee's business?

    -During World War II, Chef Boyardee shifted its production to supply rations for the military, becoming one of the top suppliers of C and K rations. After the war, instead of laying off employees, the Boiardi brothers sold the company to American Home Products Corp to keep everyone employed.

  • What changes occurred to the Chef Boyardee brand after Chef Hector Boiardi's death?

    -After Chef Hector Boiardi's death, the brand changed hands several times, leading to changes in the sauce recipe, which resulted in a different taste from the original formula.

  • What ingredients were used in Chef Boiardi's spaghetti a la Boiardi recipe?

    -The ingredients used in Chef Boiardi's spaghetti a la Boiardi recipe include peeled tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, diced onion, diced carrot, salt, fresh pepper, basil leaves, lean ground beef, and sliced mushrooms.

  • How did Chef Boiardi's sauce recipe influence the creation of the canned pasta meals?

    -Chef Boiardi's sauce recipe was so popular that customers would ask for extra sauce to take home. This led to the creation of the canned pasta meals, which included the sauce, dried spaghetti, and grated Parmesan cheese, providing a quick and easy meal.

  • What was the role of Squarespace in the creation of the Tasting History website?

    -Squarespace was used to build the Tasting History website due to its ease of use, dynamic tools like drag and drop technology, and customizable templates. It allowed for the creation of a professional website that could be easily viewed on both desktop and mobile devices.

  • What was the final product of following Chef Boiardi's original spaghetti a la Boiardi recipe?

    -The final product of following Chef Boiardi's original spaghetti a la Boiardi recipe was a flavorful spaghetti dish with a creamy sauce made from butter and Parmesan cheese, topped with more grated cheese, and served with the homemade Italian style sauce.

Outlines

00:00

ūüćĚ The Origins of Chef Boyardee and His Recipe

This paragraph introduces the backstory of Chef Hector Boiardi, the man behind the Chef Boyardee brand. It discusses his early life, from his time in Cleveland, Ohio, making spaghetti dinners that put him on the map, to the creation of his famous brand. The paragraph also delves into the challenges of recreating the original Chef Boyardee sauce due to the unavailability of the original 7-ounce tin of Italian Style Sauce. The speaker uses a combination of Chef Boiardi's 1930s cookbook and family recipes to approximate the original taste of Spaghetti a la Boiardi.

05:04

ūüĆć Ettore Boiardi's Journey and Myths Debunked

This section of the script corrects common misconceptions about Chef Boiardi's origins, clarifying that he was not born in Cleveland as popularly believed, but in Borgonovo, Italy. It traces his early work in the restaurant industry, his move to America at the age of 16, and the ambiguity surrounding his early culinary career in New York City. The paragraph also addresses the inaccuracies in the widely circulated story of Boiardi catering President Woodrow Wilson's wedding, which never took place at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia.

10:09

ūüć≤ The Rise of Chef Boyardee and His Impact on American Cuisine

This paragraph details the establishment of Chef Boiardi's restaurant, Il Giardino d'Italia, in Cleveland, and its success in popularizing Italian cuisine among both immigrants and Americans unfamiliar with dishes like pizza and lasagna. It explains how the demand for Chef Boiardi's spaghetti sauce led to the creation of the Chef Boyardee brand, which initially sold sauces, dried spaghetti, and Parmesan cheese. The paragraph also covers the brand's rapid growth, its adaptation during World War II to supply military rations, and its eventual sale to American Home Products Corp to secure employment for its workers post-war.

15:10

ūüďļ The Evolution of Chef Boyardee and Personal Experience with the Recipe

In this final paragraph, the speaker shares a personal connection with Chef Boyardee's products, particularly Beefaroni, and reflects on the changes in the brand and recipe after Chef Hector Boiardi's departure and death. The speaker then describes the process of making spaghetti a la Boiardi using the 1930s recipe, highlighting the simplicity and rich flavor of the dish. The paragraph concludes with a recommendation to visit the Tasting History website for the recipe and a mention of Squarespace's role in creating the website.

Mindmap

Keywords

ūüí°Chef Boyardee

Chef Boyardee is the brand name associated with a line of Italian-American canned pasta products, famously known for its spaghetti dinners. The brand was created by Chef Hector Boiardi, an Italian immigrant who initially made his name by serving spaghetti dinners in Cleveland, Ohio. The brand's iconic status is evident in the video, where the host aims to recreate the original spaghetti a la Boiardi recipe.

ūüí°Spaghetti a la Boiardi

Spaghetti a la Boiardi refers to the original recipe created by Chef Hector Boiardi, which is the basis for the canned pasta dish that made his brand famous. This dish is characterized by its Italian-style sauce, made with tomatoes, beef, vegetables, and mushrooms, and is a staple in the Chef Boyardee product line.

ūüí°Canned Pasta

Canned pasta is a type of pre-cooked pasta that is packaged and preserved in a can, often with a sauce or other ingredients. It was popularized by Chef Boyardee and became a convenient meal option, especially during the Great Depression and later, for families seeking an affordable and quick way to enjoy Italian cuisine.

ūüí°Hector Boiardi

Hector Boiardi is the real-life chef behind the Chef Boyardee brand. Born in Italy, he immigrated to the United States and made a name for himself in the restaurant industry, particularly in Cleveland, Ohio, where he served spaghetti dinners that would later inspire his canned pasta products.

ūüí°Italian-American Cuisine

Italian-American cuisine is a style of cooking that combines elements of traditional Italian food with American ingredients and culinary practices. It often features dishes that have been adapted or invented in the United States by Italian immigrants, such as spaghetti with meatballs or lasagna.

ūüí°Great Depression

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that lasted from 1929 to the late 1930s. It led to widespread unemployment and financial hardship. During this time, affordable and convenient food options, like Chef Boyardee's canned pasta, became extremely popular as they catered to the financial constraints of many families.

ūüí°Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio is the city where Chef Hector Boiardi established his reputation and where he first served the spaghetti dinners that would later inspire the creation of the Chef Boyardee brand. It's significant as the birthplace of the brand and its associated cuisine.

ūüí°World War II

World War II was a global conflict that lasted from 1939 to 1945, involving many of the world's major powers. During this time, Chef Boyardee, like many other food companies, shifted its production to supply rations for soldiers, including meatballs and spaghetti, Vienna sausage, beef stew, and chili con carne.

ūüí°Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan cheese is a hard, granular Italian cheese made from cow's milk. It is known for its strong, fruity flavor and is commonly used in Italian cuisine to add depth and richness to dishes. In the context of the video, Parmesan cheese is a key ingredient in Chef Boyardee's original spaghetti dinners, both in the sauce and as a topping.

ūüí°Throwback Recipes

Throwback Recipes refer to older or classic versions of popular dishes that have been reintroduced to the market, often to evoke nostalgia or to provide consumers with a taste of the original formulations before changes were made. In the video, it is mentioned that Chef Boyardee released cans of what they called throwback recipes, which attempted to replicate the older, pre-change recipe of the sauce.

ūüí°Squarespace

Squarespace is a web publishing platform that allows users to create and manage websites with ease. It offers a variety of templates and tools, including drag-and-drop functionality, to help users design their sites without needing extensive technical skills. In the video, the host mentions using Squarespace to create their website, Tasting History.

Highlights

The real man behind the Chef Boyardee brand was Chef Hector Boiardi, who initially made spaghetti dinners for the people of Cleveland, Ohio.

Chef Boiardi's cookbook from the late 1930s, 'Famous Italian Dishes', included a variety of recipes incorporating his Italian sauce, even for non-Italian dishes.

Chef Boiardi's original spaghetti dinners helped him gain popularity, but the exact taste is hard to replicate due to the unavailability of the original sauce.

Chef Boiardi's great niece, Anna Boiardi, shared a family recipe called Uncle Ettore's tomato sauce, which is likely the closest to the original Chef Boyardee sauce.

Chef Boiardi's recipe for spaghetti a la Boiardi does not include garlic, reflecting the cooking style of Northern Italy where he was born.

Chef Boiardi's journey to America began at age 16, and his early years in the U.S. are filled with conflicting stories and lack of concrete records.

Despite popular belief, Chef Boiardi did not cater the wedding reception of President Woodrow Wilson, as the event took place in Washington DC.

Chef Boiardi's restaurant, Il Giardino d'Italia, in Cleveland became famous for its spaghetti with meat sauce, leading to the creation of the Chef Boyardee brand.

The Chef Boyardee brand was born out of customers wanting to take home the restaurant's spaghetti sauce, leading to the production of sauce in milk bottles.

Chef Boyardee's company became a major supplier of C and K rations for the U.S. military during World War II, including for the Soviets on the Eastern front.

Chef Boyardee's company was sold to American Home Products Corp to ensure continued employment for all workers post-WWII, and Chef Hector Boiardi remained as a consultant and the face of the brand.

Chef Boyardee's TV appearances in the 1950s helped make his brand the number one selling Italian food in the U.S.

Chef Boyardee's original spaghetti dinner recipe includes butter and Parmesan cheese on the cooked spaghetti, enhancing the flavor profile.

The creator of the Chef Boyardee brand, Chef Hector Boiardi, passed away in 1985, and the brand has since changed hands and altered its original sauce recipe.

The Tasting History website, created with the help of Squarespace, offers a platform for sharing recipes and exploring culinary history.

Transcripts

00:00

Between my childhood and college I can't tell you how many times I have burnt my tongue

00:04

eating an over-microwaved bowl of Chef Boyardee pasta.

00:07

But after years of only trying the stuff in the can

00:10

today I am making the real Chef Boiardi's recipe for spaghetti a la Boiardi.

00:15

So thank you to Squarespace for sponsoring this video as we explore the real yet rather mythical life of Chef Boiardi

00:21

this time on Tasting History.

00:29

Hello may I come in?

00:32

I am Chef Boy-Ar-Dee.

00:34

Perhaps you have seen my picture on Chef Boy-Ar-Dee products at your grocer.  

00:37

That is Chef Hector Boiardi, the real man behind the Chef Boyardee brand.  

00:42

And before he got into the canned pasta game he was making spaghetti dinners for the good people of Cleveland Ohio,

00:48

and it was these spaghetti dinners that really put him on the map.

00:52

And after he started his famous brand he put out a cookbook in the late 1930s

00:57

'Famous Italian Dishes' by Chef Hector Boiardi through courtesy of Stop and Shop.

01:02

I think he's playing a little fast and loose with the phrase Italian dishes as there are recipes

01:07

for macaroni tamale loaf, chili con carne and Mexican pancakes,

01:11

but I suppose what made them Italian was that he incorporated his brand of Chef Boyardee Italian sauce in all of them.  

01:17

Now figuring out exactly what his original spaghetti dinners tasted like

01:21

is probably not really realistic at this point but we can get an idea using his recipe for spaghetti a la Boiardi

01:30

but while the recipe tells you how to make the spaghetti when it comes to the sauce the real essence of the dish 

01:35

he points you to use one 7 ounce tin Chef Boyardee Italian Style Sauce,

01:40

not super helpful because  you can't actually get that sauce anymore  

01:44

but there is a light description of that sauce in the cookbook.

01:48

"It says it's "a combination of tomatoes, government-inspected beef, fresh vegetables and mushrooms."

01:54

Not really a recipe that we can follow but some years back his great niece Anna Boiardi put out a collection of recipes from her family  

02:04

and one of those recipes was called Uncle Ettore's tomato sauce,

02:08

so I think that that's what we should probably use.

02:11

So between the 1930s cookbook and her family's recipe I think we are pretty much ready to make the famous Spaghetti a la Boiardi

02:18

for which you will need: 2 pounds or 1 kilogram of peeled tomatoes.

02:22

Now you can use fresh tomatoes if they are in season,

02:26

the thing is they're not really in season right now where I live and they would have

02:30

really not been in season most of the year where Chef Boiardi was cooking so he used canned tomatoes quite often

02:37

so that's what I'm using.

02:38

6 tablespoons or 90 milliliters of extra virgin olive oil, 1 cup of diced onion, 1/2 cup of diced carrot,

02:45

1 and 1/2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon fresh pepper, 5 medium basil leaves sliced into strips,

02:51

1 pound or a half kilogram of lean ground beef, and 1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms.  

02:56

Now you'll notice that this recipe has no garlic  which I thought was kind of odd but it turns out  

03:01

the area of Northern Italy where Chef Boiardi was  born, well they don't use garlic in their tomato sauce

03:07

so neither did he, at least at first.

03:09

That said if a clove of garlic happen to fall into your sauce I won't tell anyone.

03:15

So the first thing that we need to do is to make our sauce from the tomatoes,

03:19

so chop them into small pieces and then put them with all the juice into either a food mill or a conical sieve.

03:25

The idea is to mash them up and get all of the pulp and juice to separate from from the seeds.

03:30

If you do use a conical sieve you'll want to get a pestle, a wooden pestle

03:35

because one it's a lot easier, and two if you don't have yours laying around and you decide to use a spatula

03:42

you might have to press so hard that you'll break the spatula like I did...

03:45

But once the tomatoes are sauced heat the oil  in a deep saucepan and add the chopped onion,  

03:50

and sprinkle with about half of the salt. Then let  them cook over a medium heat for about 3 minutes,  

03:56

and make sure the heat isn't so high that it burns  the onions.

03:59

Then add in the carrots and let this all cook for another 5 or 6 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent. 

04:06

Then add in the meat breaking it up into small bits and sprinkle the rest of the salt and pepper over the meat,  

04:12

and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until it's no longer pink.

04:15

Then comes the tomato sauce you made and the mushrooms, and stir it all together and then raise the heat a bit so it comes to a boil.

04:23

Let it boil for just a few seconds and then reduce the heat to a simmer and then set the lid onto the pot leaving it slightly ajar

04:28

and let it simmer for about 40 minutes.

04:31

It'll start to thicken up and it'll also just become wonderfully aromatic during that time.

04:37

After 40 minutes add in your sliced basil, stir it in, return the lid and let it cook for another 5 minutes.

04:43

So that is what Chef Boiardi called his Italian style sauce and before we add it to some spaghetti

04:48

let's see just how that sauce made a young Chef Boiardi the most famous Italian in America.

04:58

So I first learned that Chef Boyardee was not only a real person but was from Cleveland by watching 30 Rock.

05:04

See there was an episode where Liz Lemon was fed up with the work and stress of New York City

05:08

so she decides to take an impromptu trip to Cleveland, or as Jack says flee to the cleave.

05:14

And when she gets there there's a whole song about how wonderful Cleveland is, and it includes the lyric

05:18

"Chef Boyardee was born here you know",

05:20

well it turns out I do know... that that is actually not true

05:23

because Ettore Boiardi was actually born in Borgonovo Italy outside of Piacenza in 1897.

05:30

He was the middle of three brothers all of whom would eventually work in the restaurant industry

05:35

but for Ettore that work started when he was around 11 at the local restaurant La Croce Bianca or the White Cross.

05:42

Now at such a young age he was probably the one squashing tomatoes and cleaning up but

05:47

it did help him get his foot into the door of the restaurant industry and according to his family

05:52

in the next few years he left Piacenza  

05:54

and ended up working at some fancy restaurants  in Paris and London.

05:58

And then at the age of 16 he boarded the ship La Lorraine from France on his way to America.

06:03

And according to records at Ellis Island he arrived on May 9th 1914 and he was going to New York City to join his brother Paulo.

06:11

Now usually I don't look up ships manifests to corroborate details like when young Ettore would arrive in New York

06:19

but I did for this one because basically for the next 10 years of his life everything is kind of suspect.

06:27

There are a lot of versions of what goes on. Now I'm not saying that anything was made up,

06:33

but I'm not saying that anything wasn't either.

06:35

Even his family's own account of his life has a lot of holes in it and so it's  kind of difficult to tell what actually happened,  

06:43

and I'll explain as we go.

06:44

So young Ettore arrives in New York in 1914 to meet up with his brother Paulo  

06:50

who had changed his name to Paul by that time who was working in restaurants he'd come over some years before.

06:55

He was working as a waiter at the Persian  Room at the Plaza Hotel Hotel, very swanky,  

07:00

and according to most versions he was able to then get young Ettore, who started to go by Hector,  

07:06

he was able to get him a job in the kitchens and some years later when Mario came over from Italy, the youngest brother,  

07:12

he got him a job there as well.

07:14

So all three Boiardi boys are working at The Plaza and this is where the story starts to show its cracks.

07:19

Some versions of the story say that after just a year or so young Hector Boiardi became the head chef at The Plaza Hotel,  

07:27

and is it impossible for a young teenager from  Italy to become

07:32

the head chef at one of the most prestigious hotels in the world?

07:36

No it's not impossible but there's no reason to think that this actually happened.

07:40

There are no records that I could find that corroborate this so who knows.  

07:44

His family actually tells a different story saying  that he left The Plaza fairly early on to become the head chef  

07:50

at an Italian restaurant called Barbetta which was then and still is on 46th street.

07:56

So maybe that's true. Again I couldn't find any records to confirm or deny it

08:01

but it makes a little bit more sense. Where things really start to fall apart is

08:06

when he cooked for the president.  

08:08

See according to most stories that you'll find  online at the age of just 17

08:14

he was head hunted from The Plaza to go to work at the exclusive Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia,

08:20

and there they put him in charge of catering their top events,

08:24

and one of those events was the wedding reception for then President Woodrow Wilson,

08:28

and this is the story that you find most everywhere including on the official Chef Boyardee website.

08:34

The only issue is that the president didn't get married there.

08:37

See Woodrow Wilson's first wife Ellen died while he was in office in 1914,  

08:42

and the following December 1915 he remarried this time to Edith Galt.

08:47

So there was a wedding at that time,  

08:49

but it was in Washington DC about 6 hours away  from the hotel,

08:54

and they kept it very small and very quiet partially because it had only been  a year since his first wife had died,  

09:01

and partially because there were rumors floating  around that she and the president had the first wife murdered.

09:07

t's not true but still they didn't want any extra publicity so very, very small affair

09:12

but regardless of the size of the wedding it did not take place at the Greenborugh Resort in West Virginia.

09:17

Though the president and his first wife who was not murdered,  

09:20

wink wink, had actually visited that resort a  year earlier but

09:26

it was at Easter of 1914 which was before Boiardi even got to the country.

09:31

Slightly more plausible is the idea that Chef Boiardi organized a meal that the president held honoring troops returning from World War I  

09:39

but again the timeline doesn't really add up, that  would have been some years later,

09:43

and there doesn't seem to be any record of this happening so maybe we just

09:48

chalk it up to the chef's colorful origin story and leave it there.

09:51

What is for certain is that at some point Hector did leave The Plaza and around 1917 arrived

09:58

in Cleveland Ohio to work as the head chef at the Hotel Winton.

10:02

Then in 1924 he and his wife Helen who he had met in Cleveland decided to lean into the chef's Italian roots, 

10:09

and open their own restaurant Il Giardino d'Italia,  The Garden of Italy,

10:14

and he opened it in an area called, not Little Italy, but Big Italy, and very quickly their restaurant attracted not only other Italian immigrants   

10:22

but those for whom Italian cuisine was something wholly new.  

10:25

See things like pizza and lasagna were fairly new in the US and were found mostly in big cities that had

10:31

Little or Big Italy's and spaghetti with meat  sauce well that was that was a bonafide treat in Cleveland,

10:38

and that is what made Chef Boiardi famous. People would come into the restaurant,  

10:43

try it, enjoy it so much that they would ask for  an extra portion to take home.

10:48

So he would wash out old milk bottles and fill it with his sauce. Then send that

10:53

and some uncooked spaghetti home with the people along with instructions on how to make the meal,

10:59

and those instructions are basically the instructions that you find in the 1930s cookbook that we're cooking from today.

11:05

Well the story goes that one night in 1927 Maurice and Ava Winer who are a couple who own some local grocery stores  

11:12

come in and enjoy it so much that they ask Chef  Hector if they can sell it in their store. The  

11:18

chef agreed but very quickly realized that just he  and his wife making this sauce in their restaurant  

11:25

it wasn't enough to keep up with demand.

11:28

So the next year in 1928 with the help of his brother Mario

11:31

they established the Chef Boyardee the Food Company,

11:34

and they opened up a little factory in Cleveland to make the sauce.

11:38

They sold three sauces: Italian style spaghetti sauce with meat,  

11:41

a meatless mushroom sauce, and a Naples style  spaghetti sauce that had a bit of spice.

11:46

And they marketed them as "three delightful flavors, use them alternately for a varied menu".

11:52

They were an absolute hit and before long they were being sold in stores all over the Midwest.

11:57

The only issue was that the customers and the people who were  actually selling the sauce who worked for the chef  

12:03

none of them could pronounce his name right so  he started spelling it out phonetically 

12:08

Boy-ar-dee, 

12:10

and unfortunately they didn't specify where the  accent was so Chef Boyardee quickly became Chef Boyardee.

12:17

Now it wasn't just sauce that they were selling but an entire meal. Along with the can of tomato sauce

12:23

you got a box of dried spaghetti, and a little canister of grated Parmesan cheese.  

12:28

It could be prepared in only 12 minutes and feed a family of three or four for only 29 cents,

12:34

a perfect meal for a country which had just been plunged into the Great Depression. 

12:38

The product sold like gangbusters and by the late 1930s they had outgrown the Cleveland Factory and so

12:44

all three brothers got together and moved to Milton Pennsylvania

12:49

where they opened a new factory where they could grow their own mushrooms,

12:53

and they even put out ads for local farmers to switch to tomato production.

12:57

The only ingredient that they did  still import was the Parmesan cheese

13:01

which they had imported from Italy, and for much of the mid 20th century they were the number one importer of Parmesan to the US.  

13:08

Now business was going swell and they sold nationwide

13:11

but everything changed when the US entered World War II.

13:15

See the government was not equipped to provide rations to all of the soldiers going overseas

13:20

so much of the work was contracted out to companies like Hershey, Heinz, General Mills, and Pillsbury,

13:25

and of course any company who was making canned foods.  

13:28

That meant Chef Boyardee was going to war. Almost  overnight production shifted to make rations  

13:34

and they quickly became one of the top suppliers  of product for C and K rations with dishes like  

13:39

meatballs and spaghetti, Vienna sausage, beef stew and chili con carne.

13:44

They even provided rations for the Soviets fighting on the Eastern front,

13:48

and to meet demand they had to hire a lot more employees so they became the number one employer in the area,

13:54

and supposedly they were given medals from both the US and the Soviet government for their work in in supplying the troops with food. 

14:03

Of course all of the stories have different medals  being won so I'm not entirely sure what it is  

14:09

but suffice to say their efforts were appreciated.

14:12

Unfortunately with the end of World War II also came the end of that military contract,

14:18

and so all those new employees would have to be laid off,  

14:22

but what's cool is instead of doing this the Boiardi brothers decided to sell to a much larger company  

14:30

in order to keep everyone employed.

14:33

American Home Products Corp took over production but  

14:37

Chef Hector Boiardi himself did stay on as a consultant and the face of the brand

14:44

which was great because in 1953 he got on TV.

14:48

Hello may I come in?

14:50

Chef Boyardee's products are at best grocers.

14:53

Ask for Chef Boyardee's spaghetti dinner only about 15 cents a serving.

14:58

Over the next decades Boyardee's face was everywhere and his meals became the number one selling Italian food in the country, 

15:05

meals like his famous spaghetti, but also ravioli  and pizza.

15:09

Though I'm curious exactly how it tasted because it didn't have melted mozzarella,

15:13

and it was really just his sauce on crust with some Parmesan cheese grated on top.

15:17

It was the 50s and food was kind of weird so they were lucky to have any pizza at all.

15:21

Now soon after this they added what I think is the best addition to the brand

15:27

and that is Beefaroni, it was always my favorite  growing up.

15:31

Now eventually in 1978 Chef Hector Boiardi stepped away from the company and he did pass away in 1985.

15:39

Since his passing the brand has changed hands a few times and in doing so

15:43

they've changed the recipe of the sauce so it doesn't taste the same as when I was a kid,

15:47

and it's not just because my palette has matured it really does not taste the same.

15:52

In fact some years back they released cans of what they called throwback recipes

15:56

which went back to the older recipe but  unfortunately I haven't seen that around in years  

16:01

so without being able to get my hands on some  of Chef Hector's original Chef Boyardee sauce  

16:08

I guess I'm going to just have to put the whole  spaghetti dinner together myself.

16:12

So the chef's 1930s recipe says to bring a gallon of water to a boil, then add 2 tablespoons of salt and 8 ounces of dried spaghetti

16:19

and he says to cook the spaghetti for 12 minutes stirring frequently.  

16:23

Once cooked strain it, return it to the pot, then add 2 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese.

16:30

Dish the spaghetti up with the sauce on top and sprinkle with more of his grated cheese

16:35

and here we are spaghetti a la Boiardi the original spaghetti dinner.

16:39

Give it a taste.

16:45

Hm.

16:52

It's phenomenal.

16:55

I knew it would be because it's made the whole house just smell wonderful,  

17:00

but it's even better. The creaminess that you  get from like the butter and cheese actually on the spaghetti,

17:07

really, really like that, it is a relatively simple sauce.

17:10

There is so much flavor coming out. What I really like-

17:15

so you get a lot of the herbs like the basil but you also get a sweetness

17:19

and there's no sugar added into this, and a lot of tomato sauces now add sugar,  

17:24

but if you cook it long enough with good tomatoes even if they're canned the sweet comes from that  

17:29

so you don't need to add sugar.

17:32

This is really, really fantastic. I will be eating this entire thing and

17:37

I'm going to be making this again. This is something I would- this is actually something I would make like

17:41

just 'cus it's a Thursday night so go ahead make this.

17:46

It's not difficult. I'll make sure to put the recipe up on the Tasting History website tastinghistory.com,  

17:54

a website that I made with help from today's  sponsor Squarespace.

17:58

Squarespace makes building a website so easy with their Dynamic Tools like their drag and drop technology for both desktop and mobile,   

18:05

and they have lots of templates so you can customize them however you like  

18:08

but at least you have something to start off  with so you're never just looking at a blank page, a blank web page.

18:14

They also help make sure that your website is easily viewed both on a desktop and on a mobile phone.

18:19

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18:25

and if you're selling products to keep customers apprised of new items and when they're on sale

18:29

but for my website I'm mostly just using it as a way to share recipes with you.

18:34

Now if you are looking to start your own website whether it's for recipe sharing, or for a business

18:39

then go to squarespace.com for a  

18:41

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18:45

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18:49

So go there, then go make some wonderful, wonderful spaghetti sauce

18:54

and I will see you next time on Tasting History.

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Related Tags
Chef BoyardeeSpaghetti a la BoiardiItalian CuisineCulinary HistoryFood IndustryCleveland1930s CookbookHomemade SauceTasting History