Giovanni Battista Buitoni was born in Perugia on November 6th of 1891. He was a third-generation Buitoni, who studied law before heading to Germany in 1909 to learn about the German language and to observe industrial operations. He was then called back home after learning that Perugina, the chocolate company his father Francesco co-founded, was on the brink of bankruptcy. At 18 years old Giovanni took over general management of the business and was able to succeed at saving Perugina.
The Buitoni family had been making pasta since 1827, when his great grandparents, Giulia and Giovanni Battista Buitoni, had decided to start a pasta business in Sansepolcro. Their business worked so well and thus, they were able to quickly expand.
It was not long since the saving of Perugina that Giovanni was able to bring Buitoni products into production outside of Italy. In 1939, Giovanni and his wife, Letizia were invited by the Hershey Chocolate Company to the 30th anniversary celebrations at their headquarters in Pennsylvania, United States. In that same year, they also attended the 1939 World’s Fair to New York City to promote their own products. In order to acknowledge the amount of money visitors were being asked to pay for food, Giovanni opened a pop-up spaghetti café on the site, where plates of pasta were dressed in simple sauces and sold for about 25 cents each. From these visits, they decided to stay in the United States because they were enjoying the American lifestyle.
Before they could return to Italy, the Second World War broke and Giovanni was forced to remain in the United States and fend for himself. His wife, Letizia pawned her jewelry to enable Giovanni to find and buy a small area in New Jersey to open a pasta factory. It is here that the Buitoni products began to sell. Within 15 years Buitoni Foods Corporation had a larger factory in South Hackensack, New Jersey, one in Brooklyn, a spaghetti restaurant in Times Square, New York City, and a Perugina shop on Fifth Avenue.
In 1953, Giovanni returned to Italy and founded the International Buitoni Organization in order to coordinate all of the industrial activities. After this period of time, he still continued to spend long periods of time in the United States. He received many awards for his active promotion of U.S.-Italian relations.
In 1966 Giovanni retired from the operational management of Buitoni and his nephew Marco Buitoni became the president and chief operating officer.
In 1979 Giovanni died in Rome on January 12th.
Italian Food Brand and Company
“Giovanni Buitoni.” The Florentine, June 15, 2011. https://www.theflorentine.net/2011/06/16/giovanni-buitoni/.
“History - Buitoni Fresco.” Buitoni. https://www.buitonifresco.com/history.
The Editor: Italy On This Day. Giovanni Buitoni - entrepreneur, January 1, 1970. https://www.italyonthisday.com/2018/11/giovanni-buitoni-entrepreneur.html.