A Requiem for Ronzoni
Like many Americans of Italian descent, the first macaroni I was introduced to as a child was pastina. The ultimate comfort food, my grandma would make this magic dish every time I was sick. She would carefully temper the egg to make this wonderful dish. As an adult, it is the best way to reach backward in time. It was honestly the best thing about being a sick kid in an Italian-American household. Most often, the pastina was Ronzoni.
In 1881, Emanuele Ronzoni immigrated from Italy to New York. After a few years experience in the macaroni business, he launched the company that bears his name in 1915. Since then, the Ronzoni name has been synonymous with macaroni. For over a century, those famous blue boxes were stacked high in the pantries of Italian Americans.
So generations of pastina lovers were shocked when word made it around the Internet that Ronzoni was discontinuing the production of the beloved macaroni.
According to a statement from the company, “our long-term supplier informed us that they would no longer be making Ronzoni Pastina as of January 2023. We searched extensively for an alternative solution but we were unable to identify a viable option to make Pastina in the same beloved small shape, size and standards you have all come to expect from Ronzoni.”
What I did not realize, along with many others I’m sure, is that Ronzoni has not been a “family-owned” company in decades. I was able to piece together the following timeline:
The History of Ronzoni
1915: Ronzoni officially begins business as a private family-owned company
1984: Ronzoni is sold to General Foods
1990: General Foods sells Ronzoni to Hershey Pasta Group
1999: General Foods sells to a group of investors led by the New York firm Joesph Littlejohn and Levy. The new company took the name New World Pasta
2006: The Ebro Puleva Group acquires New World Pasta, which included the Ronzoni brand
2016: The Ebro Puleva Group merges with Ebro Foods
2021: 8th Avenue Food & Provisions (formerly Dakota Growers Pasta Company) acquires Ronzoni and a dry pasta manufacturing facility in Virginia. The Virginia facility is the company’s third manufacturing location; the previous two were in North Dakota and Minnesota.
Now I am the first to admit that New Jersey (and yes, New York) thinks we are the center of the Italian-American universe, but macaroni manufacturing in North Dakota and Minnesota? No offense, but that’s not where my mind wanders. Boston, California, sure; but almost in Canada?
“Where do I get pastina now?”
So everyone I know is now asking “where do I get my pastina now?” Well, there are plenty of other brands that make pastina. Barilla and San Giorgio are two familiar brands you can find in the pasta aisle when you are food shopping. Cento makes a variety of Italian products, including pastina. I have been purchasing Colavita for a number of years now and they have Pepe and Stars; both are quite good. Best of all, they are made in Italy. Don’t forget to check your local Italian store that carries macaroni. For me growing up, that was Iovino and Espositio’s on Franklin Avenue or Gellinella’s on Joralemon Street, next door to Rosebud’s; both in Belleville.
So fear not, fellow pastina patrons. We have plenty of options.