50 Years of Great Taste
The idea to commercially manufacture spaghetti sauce took root in 1943, when
Ferdinand and Mafalda DelGrosso bought a small restaurant at 17th Street and
Eighth Avenue in Altoona, Pennsylvania. They called it DELGROSSOS CAFE,
and within a short time it was hailed as serving the best spaghetti
dinner in town. The homemade sauce that Fred and Murf
prepared for their pasta dinners was the ingredient that set DELGROSSOS
CAFE apart from the others. Interestingly enough, the sauce was made from
Mafaldas mothers (Marianna Pulcino) original recipe, which her
mother had brought to this country as an immigrant around the turn of this
Based on the positive consumer reaction to the spaghetti sauce at DELGROSSOS,
Fred decided to experiment with the product, for he saw the potential for
a successful commercial endeavor if he and his wife could market and sell
their quality Italian sauces.
In 1946, he sold DELGROSSOS CAFE and bought BLANDS AMUSEMENT PARK
and RESTAURANT, located eight miles north of Altoona in Tipton. Fred immediately
set up a special kitchen in the parks restaurant and began to experiment
with the original recipe. From the beginning he decided there would be no
short cuts used to produce The Finest Sauce Made, for the family
name was soon to go on the package. He used quality meats, fresh vegetables,
imported olive oil and cheese, the right cooking time, and his own variations
of Mariannas original recipe. When Fred was satisfied with his recipe,
he consulted his wife, Murf, and they decided to start their small business.
So, in the back room of BLANDS PARKS RESTAURANT, with Fred and
Murf at the controls, DelGrosso Foods commenced production.
Fred and Murf began with four 10-gallon pots and a hand sealer, which took
24 revolutions to seal one can. They worked 10 hours to make one batch
of their sauce, which totaled all of five cases, packed 24 cans to a case.
Initially, the sauce was used only in the parks restaurant, but as production
continued, Fred and two long-time friends from Altoona formed a small sales
force and gradually increased distribution by pounding the pavement.
The first expansion took place in 1951, when Fred built a small cooking room
behind BLANDS PARK. It contained four 20-gallon, gas-fired, hand-stirred
kettles and an automatic can sealer leased out of Philadelphia. However, the
sauce was still poured by hand, one can at a time by family members using
pot holders. A batch of sauce now took about eight hours to can,
and production was up to 10-12 cases. Also, at this time each can was hand
labeled with a paper label bearing the companys logo. This process literally
took hours, but the DelGrosso family was proud of its products and wanted
to establish a tradition to pass on to the next generation.
Fred DelGrosso purchased Blands Park and Restaurant in late 1946 because
he felt the large kitchen would be an excellent location to experiment
with the dream of commercially producing pasta sauce. The few hundred square
feet served Fred well until 1951. Then, the operations and office moved to
a new building constructed in the Park, which tripled space to nearly 1000
For the next 25 years the small block building expanded several times to accommodate
the growing business. At times, the small DelGrosso plant was unable to warehouse
the finished product it produced. During these times, guests at Blands
Park could see forklifts crisscrossing the grounds as they moved finished
product to the former Blands Park Skating Rink for storage.
The most significant step in the physical plant growth of DelGrosso Foods
occurred in 1979 when DelGrosso Foods moved into a new state-of-the-art 40,000
square foot plant across the road from Blands Park. With the increased
capacity, DelGrosso was now able to develop new segments of business. The
1980s brought significant growth in private label packing and in the,
then popular, generic segment.
As the private label segment grew, plant modernization and expansion took
place in the early 1990s. An 18,000 square foot warehouse was added,
along with expanded office and label storage facilities. Modernization of
the production line also took place with the design and installation of new
conveyor systems, labeling machines and jar filling equipment. Offices, a
lounge and other specialized areas were also added to accommodate regular
visits by Rabbinical inspectors, as production of private label Kosher sauces
On site, but separate from the main plant, construction of a 4000 square foot
meatball production facility took place in 1992. The growth of that product
line continues with further expansion expected in the next several years.
In 2000, the size of the DelGrosso Plant nearly doubled with the construction
of a 55,000 square foot addition. The new facility houses warehouse facilities,
a new boiler room, a new drive-in freezer and upgrades to the
The branding of Tipton became complete on the Fall of 2000 when
the DelGrosso Family put their name on their beloved amusement park. DelGrossos
Amusement Park will carry on the commitment to quality and family fun established
by Fred and Mafalda DelGrosso more then 50 years ago.