Iconic food companies with roots in Rochester. How many do you know?

By now you may have seen it. In the ad, four women are playing bridge. One announces that it is the last hand, while she is going to dinner with her granddaughter.

“Chrissie cooking?” one of the other women asks, somewhat skeptically. “She cooks like a mother,” replies the grandmother.

In the next scene we see Chrissie pouring Ragú sauce into a saucepan. A voice tells us: “Take the sauce that started in an Italian mother’s kitchen. »

The “Cook Like a Mother” ad is part of a rebranding for Ragú, a “cheeky new marketing campaign,” according to a press release.

Another ad shows a firefighter proudly cooking like, you guessed it, a mother.

Cook like a mother Screenshot

OK, I’ve known mothers (not mine) who aren’t dedicated cooks, just like I’ve known fathers who stay out of the kitchen.

In fact, non-cooks are likely among the target audience for the Ragú ad, which tells them that cooking can be as easy as opening a pot.

Ragú debuted in Rochester NY

Anyway, if the campaign gave Caesar what’s Caesar’s, it would say: “cook like a mother from Rochester”, as Ragú began in 1937 in the kitchen of a mother here, Assunta Gala Cantisano.

She and her husband Giovanni, immigrants from Italy, and the rest of their family made the sauce that became Ragú in their northwest Rochester home, using tomatoes from their garden.

Giovanni and Assunta Cantisano

Giovanni and Assunta Cantisano

Ragú became increasingly popular; the company grows and grows. It was sold in 1969 and the Ragú factory eventually left Rochester.

The sauce is now processed in Kentucky and the company is owned by Mizkan America, Inc., based in Illinois.

Nance’s Sharp and Creamy Mustard, Nick Tahou Hots also started in Rochester NY

Assunta Cantisano wasn’t the only Rochester mother to launch a food product. In the 1920s, Nancy Delmarle first made Nance’s Sharp and Creamy mustard in her basement. Another Rochesterian behind an iconic culinary delight would be Nick Tahou, famous for his garbage plates.

Nick Tahou was a dad and, in the name of gender equality, it would be nice to have a food commercial that paid tribute to dads. Alas, this could provide the makings of a Saturday Night Live sketch. Dad is there, at the grill, in an apron, he barks orders, he burns the meat, he drinks too much. He cooks like a father, maybe even like a Rochester father.

Other Popular Businesses Started in Rochester NY

Assunta Cantisano, Nancy Delmarle, and the Tahou family (Nick, et. al.) are all on our list of notable Rochesterians. The list also includes Robert T. French, of French’s Mustard, Josephine and Wilhelm Zweigle of Zweigle’s hot dogs, and Mollie Katzen, author of the Moosewood Cookbook, a goldmine of vegetarian recipes.

The French : French started right here in Rochester

Anna and Harold Clapp, who built Clapp’s Baby Food into a national brand, are among the Remarkables, as is Robert Wegman, who built Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. into an industry leader.

Baby food: Clapp of Rochester created the international baby food revolution

Also notable is Thomas Ferraro, the founder of Foodlink, a national model for food distribution to the needy.

From his home in Geneseo, Livingston County, retired editor Jim Memmott writes Remarkable Rochester, Who We Were, Who We Are. He can be contacted at jmemmott@gannett.com or write to Box 274, Geneseo, NY 14454

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Wegmans, Ragu, French’s Mustard, Nick Tahou Hots: Rochester NY originals

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