Pasta’s history is as varied as its shapes. While widespread consumption is documented from the 14th century, it is believed to have existed in some form in ancient China and Greece. And evidence of pasta dishes appeared in Italian recipe books in the early 1200s.
With the expansion of the “New World,” pasta’s popularity boomed, and by the time the United States was formed, noodles of all shapes and sizes appeared on tables across the colonies. In 1789, Thomas Jefferson brought the first “macaroni” maker to America after visiting Europe as an ambassador to France. This inspired Jefferson to design a machine with instructions for making pasta.
The Brooklyn waterfront boasts the claim to fame for the first pasta factory located in the United States, opened in 1848 by French immigrant Antoine Zerega. He managed the operation with just one horse to power the machinery, and he dried strands of pasta in the sun.
The U.S. pasta industry continued to grow through the 19th century, and the predecessor to today’s National Pasta Association was formed in 1904: the National Association of Macaroni and Noodle Manufacturers of America. Dues were $5.
From then on, pasta companies were founded across the country by makers like Anthony Gioia, Vincenzo La Rosa, Antonio Marano, and John Robilio. Introduced in 1928, Chef Boyardee (launched by Ettore Boiardi) canned pasta is now a household name. And Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (1937) remains a best-seller and family favorite.
Pasta is now produced in numerous shapes and sizes, with wheat- and gluten-free varieties among the newest trends on the market. Some form of pasta can be found in nearly every food aisle of the grocery store – whether it’s fresh, canned, dried, frozen, or ready-to-eat.
NPA Illustrated History
Peruse American engagement with pasta from its beginnings to recent mergers and acquisitions of pasta industry notables.
We encourage the consumption of pasta by being the center of knowledge and promoting sound public policy to the consumer, the industry and the regulatory bodies because a sustainable pasta industry is vital to healthy diets.