Our Founding Family
The story of the Golden Grain Company is a classic success saga of an Italian immigrant family...
In 1890, 19-year old Domenico DeDomenico traveled to America from Italy. The immigration officer at Ellis Island, misunderstanding his Italian name, wrote "Charlie" on the immigration papers, so Domenico used the name Charlie for rest of his life. Moving from New York to Boston, he worked as a barber for three years until he could read and write English. In 1895, Charlie moved to California, where he heard the streets were paved with gold. There he started a fresh produce store. Over a ten-year period his business thrived and he added three more stores.
In the tradition of family arrangements, Charlie's closest friend gave him a portrait of Maria Ferrigno from Salerno, Italy. Charlie sent for Maria, and after a brief courtship, they married and later produced six children. Maria's family sold their pasta factory in Italy to join the family in California. In 1912, Maria persuaded Charlie to set up a pasta factory, Gragnano Products, Inc., in the Mission district in San Francisco. The successful business sold 25 and 50-pound boxes of pasta to Italian stores and restaurants in the area. Four of Charlie's sons, Paskey, Vince, Tom and Anthony, worked with him to build the pasta business.
In 1934, the oldest son, Paskey, proposed a new name for the company based on a newspaper ad for "Golden Grain" smoking Tobacco. The family agreed that Golden Grain was a good name for macaroni and the name "Golden Grain Macaroni Company" was adopted.
A neighbor's Armenian style rice pilaf recipe inspired the original idea for Rice-A-Roni, a mixture of rice and macaroni. Tom's wife Lois served the dish at a family dinner, and it became a favorite of the DeDomenico families. In 1958, Vince mixed a dry chicken soup mix, made at the plant, with rice and vermicelli to create the San Francisco treat which he named Rice-A-Roni. The unique preparation of the dish, and its wonderful flavor and convenience, made the dish one of America's favorite products. The Rice-A-Roni jingle, The San Francisco Treat® slogan, "Saute and Simmer" and scenic San Francisco became familiar to every household in America in the 60's as the product was introduced through television advertising.
A trip to Italy in 1964 inspired Vince to develop Noodle Roni Parmesano based on the classic "Noodles Alfredo" dish served to him at Alfredo's restaurant in Rome. With the growing popularity of pasta, the line has expanded with new shapes and sauces and has been renamed to Pasta Roni to better describe its diverse shapes.
The Quaker Oats Company purchased the Golden Grain Company from the DeDomenico family in 1986.