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History

In the 1920s, residents of the booming steeltown–Bethlehem, Pa., could enjoy the great flavors of Italy’s Calabria region simply by walking into Jenny and Pasquale Tallarico’s corner grocery. In a kitchen at the store, Jenny prepared the delicacies she enjoyed as a child growing up among the mountains, citrus groves and farm fields of southern Italy.

The couple’s four children–John, James, Rosemary and Frances–helped run the store, which was moved and expanded into a much larger store in 1941.

Young Jim had been born with a love of cooking and sharing great food, but it was at his parents’ store that he learned the value of listening to customers and watching their buying patterns.

When duty called him to the Korean War, he responded with his food service and chef skills, serving as a Sergeant in charge of the kitchen and mess hall at a makeshift base in Korea.

Back home, Jim noticed a change in the buying habits of store customers–they were asking more frequently for items to be packaged in containers for easy pickup. Jim also noticed a growing interest in what would soon become world famous–the Philadelphia Cheesesteak sandwich. Jim saw that store customers wanted to recreate the sandwich sensation at home, but lacked a readily available sauce to use.

Jim and his mother had already worked together to recreate and hand-jar sauce authentic italian spaghetti sauce recipes from the Old Country. So it was a natural for Jim to ask his mom if she could design a good steak sandwich sauce in her kitchen. She did, and the result was, well, Jim put it this way: “Deliziosa, Mama.” The following Saturday they put their entire production of 18 jars in the store. They were all gone by day’s end.

In 1957, that success inspired Jim to create Tallarico Foods. While his brother, John, ran the family store, Jim moved his focus to developing and marketing sauces and other products.

Soon, more and more people were asking for the high quality sauces that were being made and hand jarred in the Tallarico’s kitchen. When demand from other local stores became great, they moved production to a commercial food plant but carefully directed the larger production operations to ensure that consumers got the same taste and fresh quality they had come to expect.

Today, still, the Tallarico’s quality is the same as the original products Jenny lovingly created from the finest ingredients–extra virgin olive oil, sherry wine, Pecorino Romano cheese, and nearly two dozen herbs and spices.