America's Favorite Food: The Story of Campbell Soup Company

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H.N. Abrams, 1994 - Conglomerate corporations - 216 pages
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Campbell's origins go back to 1869, when Joseph Campbell and Abraham Anderson created a business in preserved foods. Jams, jellies, fruits, and vegetables in cans were the staples of the company until 1897, when Dr. John T. Dorrance, a nephew of one of the company's executives then working for $7.50 a week, invented condensed soup. Trained as a chemist, Dorrance had also studied cooking with gourmet chefs in Europe and his combined skills proved the key to success. Within twenty years he not only owned the company, but also demonstrated a marketing genius that nearly eclipsed his other talents; selling soup at ten cents a can he was taking in some fifteen million dollars a year by 1915. Douglas Collins narrates the history with gusto, weaving into the company's development interesting facts about the origins of soup itself and about how America's working women (who also remained homemakers) came to rely on convenience foods. Here, too, are insights into the skillful advertising and marketing decisions that have made Campbell Soup Company a model of successful business practice: the adoption of the red and white label (1898), the creation of the Campbell Kids (1904) - who remain fixtures of the company's visual presentation - and the diversification into other products: Pepperidge Farm baked goods, Prego spaghetti sauces, Vlasic pickles, Godiva chocolates and more. By 1962, the Campbell soup can was such an icon of American life that Pop artist Andy Warhol memorialized it in not one but several dozen works of art. And, Collins tells us, Warhol did so at least partly because he had grown up on Campbell's Tomato Soup, which remained a favorite of his. In addition to a special portfolio ofWarhol artworks are historical images from the Campbell archives, photographs made for Fortune magazine in 1935 and 1955 by the great photojournalists Margaret Bourke-White and Dan Weiner, and a gallery of newspaper and magazine advertisements, posters, and related products - including two generations of Campbell kid dolls.

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