Italian Origins

Late 1800's shot of Aiello Family

Our story begins in the late 1800s in Southern Italy. Economic hardships combined with political and social unrest led many Italians to leave the country in search of a better life in America. The Aiello family of Bagheria, Sicily was among these immigrants, settling in New York near the turn of the century.


Aiello Brothers & Co.

Aiello Brothers & Company Exterior Photo

At the outset of World War I, a German blockade in the Atlantic stifled European exports and left the Aiellos and millions of other Italian Americans without canned tomatoes from their homeland. The Aiellos, who had extended family in the tomato canning business in Italy, sensed an opportunity. At the time, there weren't any tomato canneries in the U.S. Drawing on their family connection to the industry as well as their personal experience as restaurateurs in New York City, brothers Carlo and Francesco and brother-in-law Anthony Gangi founded Aiello Brothers & Company. In 1915, the upstart company built a tomato cannery in Highland, New York, becoming the first U.S. producer of canned tomato paste.


The Contadina Brand

Original Contadina can with 'contadina' depiction

In 1918, Aiello Brothers & Co. created the Contadina brand. In Italian, “contadina” means “woman of the fields" – an apt symbol of the care the Aiello family gave to growing and canning Contadina brand tomatoes. A depiction of a "contadina" was added to the can label.


Early Challenges

Early challenges

Despite early success, Carlo, Francesco and Anthony weren’t satisfied with the quality of their tomatoes. The biggest challenge was the short growing season in New York, which forced them to harvest before the tomatoes were fully ripe, negatively impacting both the color and flavor of their canned products.


Contadina To California

Vintage Contadina

The brothers had heard that in California they could find rich soil and a climate similar to the famous tomato-growing regions of their native Italy. When they visited for themselves, they were convinced that California was the answer to their quality concerns. In 1920, they moved the company from New York to San Jose, California. Their persistence and intuition soon paid off as Contadina quickly developed a reputation throughout the country for premium, Italian-quality tomatoes.


Contadina Today

Modern Contadina can branding

Generations later, Contadina still stands for the highest quality and for delicious, authentic Italian flavor.