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Features, National Obituary Review

Dead Person of the Day October 18 – Vincent DeDomenico

No Comments 18 October 2011


The American Dream wrapped up in the San Francisco treat. Let this be a lesson for you….pay more attention to soup, it can only benefit you.

Vincent DeDomenico (1915-2007)
Published: October 23, 2007

Vincent M. DeDomenico Sr., who with his brothers invented Rice-A-Roni, one of the classic kitchen helpers of the 1960s, died Thursday at his home in Napa, Calif. He was 92.

His death was confirmed by his daughter Marla Bleecher.

The DeDomenicos invented their signature product in 1958 after watching a sister-in-law mix a can of Swanson’s chicken broth with rice and vermicelli, according to an account in ”Napa: The Story of an American Eden,” by James Conaway (Mariner Books, 2002). They concocted a version that used dried soup.

Rice-A-Roni transformed the business of the Golden Grain Macaroni Company, which was started by Mr. DeDomenico’s father, Domenico. After leaving Sicily in 1890 at 19, he settled in San Francisco, initially starting a vegetable store, then opening a factory that sold pasta to Italian stores and restaurants.

Vincent DeDomenico was born on Sept. 29, 1915, in San Francisco, the fourth of six children. He joined the family business, eventually becoming president, controlling the company with two brothers, Tom and Paskey.

In 1964, Golden Grain bought a famous and more historic San Francisco icon, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, which was founded in 1852 by Domingo Ghirardelli, also an immigrant from Italy. In 1986, when Golden Grain had grown to $250 million in annual sales, the DeDomenico family sold it to Quaker Oats for $275 million.

A year after the sale, Mr. DeDomenico bought 21 miles of Southern Pacific Railroad track in the Napa Valley, restored some 1915 Pullman cars and started the Napa Valley Wine Train, which offers elaborate meals as it travels among the vineyards. Continue

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