The Procacci Bros. Sales Corp., one of the largest produce wholesalers in the United States, just marked its 60th anniversary of selling fine tomatoes.
The business was started in 1948 by Joe and Michael Procacci.
It was evident that the Procacci brothers were destined for this life.
During the Great Depression, 8 year old Joe Procacci sold bananas and other produce from his immigrant father’s pushcart. After the end of World War 2, the brothers formed a company that sold tomatoes in the basement of their parents’ home.
The business grew and the company soon moved to a large facility in Philadelphia’s Old Dock Street Market. At first, they imported Cuban tomatoes (before the embargo) and worked with Florida growers to produce the tomatoes they sold. In the 1960s they opened their own growing division – the Garden State Farms.
One key brand produced by the Garden State Farms are the Santa Sweets grape tomatoes. The company also created the UglyRipe brand of heirloom tomatoes. The UglyRipe was not without problems. It was only allowed to be sold in Florida (where it was produced) at first. Restrictions were eased in 2007 and the UglyRipe can be found across the United States.
The newest introductions are a hothouse tomato and “Papa Joe’s Tomatoes,” which are ripened on the vine and hand-picked.
The company also works with corn, potatoes, chestnuts, strawberries and bushberries.
Here’s to many more years for the Procacci brothers!