The Progresso Story

  1. Italian Origins

    The story of Progresso® began in the late 1800s in the small Sicilian village of Salemi, where young Giuseppe Uddo grew up surrounded by the authentic flavors and traditions of classic Italian cooking. At age 9, he quit school to help support his family by visiting nearby villages to sell olives and cheeses from a horse-drawn cart.

  2. From Italy to America

    Giuseppe and his wife, the daughter of a Sicilian food merchant, emigrated from Italy to New Orleans in 1907. Within a few years, Giuseppe had started his own small enterprise selling kitchen essentials such as olives and tomato paste imported from his homeland. A native passion for quality Italian food helped Giuseppe grow his business to include a warehouse and a small grocery in New Orleans’ French Quarter.

  3. The Progresso Name

    After World War I, Giuseppe’s operations expanded to include a factory in California, which became the first plant in the United States to make canned foods that were previously available only in Italy. Giuseppe soon partnered with his wife’s cousins and expanded from Louisiana to connect with food-loving Italian communities in New York City. They decided to name their new joint venture Progresso.

  4. Taste You Can Trust

    By the 1930s, Progresso was known throughout the northeastern U.S. as a trusted source for superior tomatoes and tomato paste. The company expanded its offerings to include ingredients like olive oil, roasted peppers and anchovies as well as incanestrato cheese and authentic Sicilian capanata.

  5. New Roots

    During World War II, when importing goods from Europe became difficult, Progresso started canning and bottling foods such as peppers, olives, beans and eggplants domestically. In 1942, the company purchased a warehouse in Vineland, N.J., a town located near several Italian immigrant farms and within easy reach of major East Coast cities. The unique soil around this part of southern New Jersey was known for producing bountiful supplies of tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and pumpkins.

  6. Pioneering Soups

    The first Progresso soups — among the earliest ready-to-serve soups in the nation — were created to help keep the business and its employees busy in winter months when vegetables were out of season. Starting in 1946, the company used original family recipes (written on the walls of the plant) to introduce minestrone, lentil, pasta e fagioli (macaroni and bean), split pea and escarole soups.

  7. Beyond the Corner Store

    In the 1950s, Progresso foods became available not only in smaller neighborhood grocery stores throughout the U.S. but also in its burgeoning supermarkets. By putting a proud spotlight on its high-quality, authentic Italian fare, Progresso helped open the door for other immigrant enterprises and ethnic foods to reach American consumers on a larger scale.

  8. From Soups to Sauces

    By the early 1960s, a selection of Italian-style sauces had been added to the Progresso family. Tomatoes were handpicked near Vineland, delivered straight to the plant and cooked down the same day to make a packaged marinara sauce using the same spice blend enjoyed by the Uddo and Taormina families themselves. Freshly harvested clams from the nearby Atlantic coast were minced and packed, and were also used to create specialty sauces. Ingredients such as pine nuts and capers also joined the product lineup during this period.

  9. New Ownership

    Following the death of founder Giuseppe Uddo, Progresso was eventually sold to Imasco in 1969. The new ownership strived to grow its reputation even further, highlighting the homemade taste and authenticity of Progresso foods with a classic slogan: “Make It Progresso or Make It Yourself.”

  10. Quality by the Bowl

    Throughout the 1970s, Progresso became renowned for its remarkable soups, which were now being produced year-round. Abundant large-cut vegetables, tender beans and visible spices were signature features of Progresso soup. By the mid-1980s the line of premium soups had expanded to include classic flavors such as Chickarina® (Italian Wedding Soup), New England Clam Chowder and Beef Barley.

  11. Bigger Family, Same Values

    In 1988, Progresso joined the Pillsbury® family of brands, which later merged with General Mills in 2001 and made Progresso products more widely available than ever before. With increased competition from a vast variety of convenience-minded foods, Progresso’s commitment to quality ingredients and authentic recipes continued to make it a trusted favorite in kitchens and supermarkets across the nation.