Posted on 20 September 2007 by

The History of Tomato Soup


warholtomato.bmpBy Michelle Fabio

It’s one of America’s greatest treasures, immortalized by Pop Art icon Andy Warhol in the 1960s, and enjoyed by countless children (and adults) alongside grilled cheese sandwiches every day.

We’re talking about tomato soup.

Although an Internet search will come up with hundreds of different recipes and variations from “bisque” to “gazpacho” to “cream of”, the one that many of us could probably pick out of a taste test was the idea of a 24-year-old European chemist–in 1897.

According to the Campbell Soup Company’s website, Dr. John T. Dorrance had been hired “reluctantly” by his uncle Arthur, general manager of the company; Dr. Dorrance even paid for his own laboratory equipment.

But he soon more than earned his token $7.50/week salary when he came up with the idea of canned condensed soup, i.e., taking out the water. This made a 10 oz. can of condensed soup cost a dime whereas a 32 oz. can of traditional soup was 30 cents.

The condensation idea saved costs in shipping, packaging, and storage, and, most importantly, made Campbell’s a household name in soups.

Indeed, Dr. Dorrance quite literally put the “Soup” in the company name–before condensed tomato soup, it had simply been “Campbell Company.”

But the real question–where did he stand on the slurping issue?

4 Responses to “The History of Tomato Soup”

  1. snowbird Says:

    Tomato soup was a staple back in the 60’s for my family and lots of others which turned me against it as I got older.I always felt that tomato soup was only for the poor.Down through the years there have been times when we were low on funds,either because of sickness or no worthwhile job..but we did the best we could.Yet I began to feel a deep appreciation for tomatoes and tomato soup because it filled our bellies.Several years ago I fell on some hard times again and was really hungry.I began to think if only I had a tomato and mayo sandwich,I’d be so I prayed for at least one tomato.That evening a neighbor knocked on my door with a hand full of tomatoes and asked me did I need any of them..little did she know.I’ve repeated this story several times because surely those tomato sandwiches were some of the best I’ve ever eaten..and how could you ever in your entire life dream about using anything but tomato sauce on spaghetti,one of my most favorite foods!!

  2. michelle Says:

    Thanks so much for sharing these memories, Snowbird; it’s always amazing to hear how many of us have such strong connections with the lovely tomato 🙂

  3. Debra Rodenbeck Says:

    My great grandfather August Rodenbeck was said to have something to do with the creation of the Joseph Campbell’s condenced tomato soup. He worked for the Joseph Campbell Company in the 1880-1890’s.

  4. michelle Says:

    How wonderful Debra! A belated thank you to your great-grandfather from me 🙂

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