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  • Italian American Innovators
    How Their Inventions Make Our Daily Life Just a Little Bit Nicer
    Part 2 of 3: Jacuzzi, Barnes & Noble, Ghirardelli & Mr. Peanut
    Continued from part 1
    Italian Memories

    by Cookie Curci

    One of the products found at a shopping mall would be a relaxing Jacuzzi hot tub. This popular tub and spa was invented by the Jacuzzi family, an Italian family of seven sons and six daughters who came to America from Italy in 1907. In 1915, they formed the Jacuzzi Brothers Incorporated, which supplied the American military with propellers. In 1926, they developed the deep well (jet) water pump that led to the famous whirlpool bath.

    Like a lot of American book readers and coffee drinkers, I spend a lot of time at my local Barnes & Noble bookstore. I never thought of the bookstore as having an Italian American connection, but two industrious Italian American men are at the helm of the U.S. book sale industry. Leonard Riggio is the founder and CEO of Barnes & Noble, the largest book store in the nation while Borders, the second largest book store chain in the U.S., is chaired by Robert DiRomualdo.

    If you like chocolate, (and who doesn't?) then you probably enjoy a chocolate bar or two. We know chocolate comes from the cocoa bean but do you know how it became a candy bar? We owe that invention to Domenico Ghirardelli, who, in 1867, perfected a method to make ground chocolate. Today, Ghirardelli chocolate is sold all over the world, including the famous square in San Francisco named after him, where his chocolate factory - now a shopping center -- still stands.

    If you're a peanut lover, then you should know that Mr. Peanut and the Planters Peanut Company (the most popular and prolific of them all) were created by Italian immigrants Amedeo Obici and Mario Peruzzi in 1887 in Pennsylvania. By 1930, the partners had four huge factories, and grossed in over $12 million annually. And that ain't peanuts!

    Part 1: Hanna-Barbera, Bank of America & The Shopping Mall
    Part 3: Chef Boyardee, Mama Celeste, Jeno's, Big Mac & Gallo

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