Campbell Soup

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History of the Campbell Soup Co.

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History of Campbell Soup

In 1869, Ulysses S. Grant was sworn into the Presidency and the last stake was driven into the transcontinental railroad. That same year, two men — a fruit merchant named Joseph Campbell and an icebox manufacturer named Abraham Anderson — shook hands in Camden, New Jersey, to form a business that would one day become one of the most recognized in the world and serve as a symbol of Americana: Campbell Soup Company. Originally called the Joseph A. Campbell Preserve Company, the business produced canned tomatoes, vegetables, jellies, soups, condiments, and minced meats. In 1897, a major milestone occurred when Arthur Dorrance, the general manager of the company, reluctantly hired his 24-year-old nephew to join the company. Dr. John T. Dorrance, a chemist who had trained in Europe, was so determined to join Campbell that he agreed to pay for laboratory equipment out of his own pocket and accept a token salary of just $7.50 per week.

Dr. Dorrance quickly made his mark on history with the invention of condensed soup in 1897. By eliminating the water in canned soup, he lowered the costs for packaging, shipping, and storage. This made it possible to offer a 10-ounce can of Campbell’s condensed soup for a dime, versus more than 30 cents for a typical 32-ounce can of soup. The idea became so hot with Americans that in 1922, the company formally adopted "Soup" as its middle name.


Advertising helped trumpet the benefits of soup to consumers and contributed to the success. In 1904, the cherubic Campbell Kids were introduced in a series of trolley car advertisements, as a way to appeal to working mothers. Around this same time, the first magazine print ad boasted 21 varieties, each selling for a dime. In the 1930’s, Campbell entered into radio sponsorship, using the familiar "M’m! M’m! Good!" jingle to captivate listeners. When television made its way to American homes in the 1950’s, Campbell introduced TV commercials, and some 40 years later, the Campbell Kids were found dancing to rap songs on the small screen. Today, Campbell remains one of the leading advertisers in the US.

Many familiar aspects of the Campbell’s brand are rooted in history. In 1898, a company executive named Herberton Williams attended the traditional football game between rivals Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania. For Williams, the game was nearly as exciting as Cornell’s brilliant new red and white uniforms. Unable to shake the striking image they made on the football field that day, he convinced the company to adopt the colors as their own by changing the labels on cans of Campbell’s Soups.

The idea to use condensed soup in recipes originated in a cookbook entitled "Helps for the Hostess" that was published in 1916. After the Second World War, Campbell’s home economists cooked up recipes like "Green Bean Casserole" and "Glorified Chicken" that fed scores of baby boomers and became classic dishes that live on today. In fact, cooking with soup remains so popular that Americans use more than 440 million cans each year in a variety of easy-to-prepare recipes. Campbell’s Soup ranks behind only meat/poultry, pasta, and seasonings/spices as the ingredient most often used to prepare dinner each evening.


The idea to use condensed soup in recipes originated in a cookbook entitled "Helps for the Hostess" that was published in 1916. After the Second World War, Campbell’s home economists cooked up recipes like "Green Bean Casserole" and "Glorified Chicken" that fed scores of baby boomers and became classic dishes that live on today. In fact, cooking with soup remains so popular that Americans use more than 440 million cans each year in a variety of easy-to-prepare recipes. Campbell’s Soup ranks behind only meat/poultry, pasta, and seasonings/spices as the ingredient most often used to prepare dinner each evening.

Some of the most popular varieties of Campbell’s Soups have been enjoyed by generations of soup lovers: Tomato was introduced in 1897, while Cream of Mushroom and Chicken Noodle first appeared in 1934. Combined, Americans consume approximately 2.5 billion bowls of these three soups alone each year.
But the company has evolved to fit a changing marketplace also. The condensed line has been expanded to include contemporary varieties like Cream of Broccoli, Double Noodle, and Creamy Chicken Noodle. And the company now offers a line of Healthy Request Soups that combines great taste with less sodium, cholesterol, fat, and calories. Today, Campbell markets almost every type of soup imaginable, from "Chunky" to "Home Cookin’” to “Simply Home” Ready-to-Serve Soups.

The number of brand names under the Campbell banner has also grown, and now includes such well-known products as Pepperidge Farm breads, cookies, and crackers, Franco-American gravies and pastas, V8 vegetable juices, Swanson broths, and Godiva Chocolates.

The way those products have been marketed also goes deep into American history. Celebrities from Ronald Reagan and Johnny Carson to Jimmy Stewart, Orson Welles, Helen Hayes, Donna Reed, Robin Leach, George Burns, and Gracie Allen have served as spokespeople for various Campbell products.

Generations of Americans have grown up on Campbell-sponsored programming including Lassie, Peter Pan, and the famous Campbell Playhouse radio series. In addition to "M’m! M’m! Good!", other Campbell taglines have found their way into popular culture including: "Wow! I could’ve had a V8!" "Uh-oh SpaghettiOs" and "Pepperidge Farm Remembers.”

Today, the Campbell name stretches to China, Australia, Argentina, and beyond. Campbell products are available in practically every country in the world. While many of the products Americans know are offered internationally, regional varieties like Watercress and Duck-Gizzard Soup in China and a Cream of Chili Poblano soup in Mexico, have been introduced to respond to cultural differences. Even though the Company’s foods have found their way into homes thousands of miles from the Camden, New Jersey headquarters, they still bear the name of the man who made his mark selling soup from a horse-drawn wagon -- Joseph Campbell.


Joseph Campbell, a fruit merchant, and Abraham Anderson, a tin ice box manufacturer, form a partnership to can tomatoes, vegetables, jellies, condiments, and minced meats in Camden, New Jersey. Initially, each can is made by hand, one at a time. The firm is best known for its giant beefsteak tomatoes, each large enough, it is advertised, to fill a single can.


The company is awarded a medal for quality at the Centennial Exposition. The two partners disagree about the future of the successful company, with Campbell promoting rapid expansion and Anderson opting for slow and gradual growth. Though the two remain friends, they decide to dissolve the partnership and Campbell purchases Anderson’s share of the company. Arthur Dorrance (a wealthy timber and flour merchant) and Joseph Campbell form a new company, Joseph Campbell & Company.


The company’s name changes to Joseph Campbell Preserve Company and incorporates in New Jersey ten years later. Their best known product is "Beefsteak Ketchup," a sauce far different from what we call ketchup today. It is a strongly flavored sauce (cinnamon, mace, cloves, black pepper, mustard, and vinegar) made with a number of different bases: walnut, mushroom, anchovy, lobster, soy, and oyster. At the time, it is considered a kitchen staple.
The United States Supreme Court designates the tomato as a vegetable for trade purposes, though it is technically a fruit.

Arthur Dorrance succeeds Joseph Campbell as President; Campbell retires and dies in 1900, ending the association of the Campbell family with the company.

The Joseph Campbell Preserve Company markets ready-to-serve beefsteak tomato soup. An advertising committee is formed and a hundred large signs promoting the company are erected in Philadelphia, New York, and St. Louis.

Arthur Dorrance reluctantly agrees to hire his 24-year-old nephew, Dr. John T. Dorrance, as a company chemist at a token wage of just $7.50 a week, using his own laboratory equipment. Dr. Dorrance develops the formula for commercially condensed soups. By removing the water, the volume of a can of soup is reduced from 32 ounces to approximately 10 ounces, and the price lowered from about 34 cents to a dime. The five original varieties are Tomato, Consommé, Vegetable, Chicken, and Oxtail. Tomato still ranks as one of the top ten selling dry grocery items in U.S. supermarkets today.

Dr. Dorrance finds he must induce the public to eat soup and convince buyers that his inexpensive, condensed soup is also high quality, so he takes to the road offering tastes. The soups are an almost instant success, manufactured at a rate of ten cases per week. Dorrance undertakes the difficult task of convincing housewives to buy canned soup instead of making their own at home by showing them that Campbell’s soups are terrific, inexpensive, and incredibly time-saving. They are not compared with homemade soups; they are something slightly different with a taste all their own.


A company executive attends the annual Cornell-Penn football game and is so taken with Cornell's brilliant new red and white uniforms he convinces Campbell to use the colors on soup labels, which is the single most successful promotional decision Campbell has ever made.

Thanks to the success of the condensed soups in the red-and-white cans, the company is profitable for the first time in many years and Dr. John Dorrance receives a "hefty" increase in salary to $9.00 a week.

Advertising is still relatively rare in the US, so John Dorrance takes a tentative risk and places the first advertising on New York City streetcars, increasing sales in New York by 100%. The first ads include a jingle promoting soup and a large illustration of a red-and-white can of Campbell’s soup.



Campbell's soups win the Gold Medallion for excellence at the Paris Exposition; the Medallion has been featured on labels ever since.

Dr. John Dorrance is elected Director and Vice President.

Campbell's brand is now nationally recognized and trusted. The company pays the first in an unbroken series of cash dividends. Campbell has expanded the line to include 21 varieties, a number that would remain constant for the next 30 years. These soups accomplished a careful merging of American and Continental cooking traditions, creating a product line both cosmopolitan and quite common.

At the time, a huge problem exists in the soup industry. The long duration required for soup stock simmering leaves the workers with nothing to do during the day, so in order to combat this lack of productivity, John Dorrance adds a new product to be manufactured during these time lapses: Pork and Beans. It becomes a very profitable sideline.

The Campbell Kids are "born" when a Philadelphia illustrator named Grace Wiederseim sketches them for a series of streetcar advertisements. They are destined to become hugely popular, eventually reproduced as postcards, lapel buttons, and various other pieces. Originally posed as little boys and girls playing children’s games, the Campbell Kids mature over time and begin performing more traditional adult tasks such as climbing a fireman’s ladder and delivering ice.

Dolls of Campbell Kids are offered as promotional items and are a hit. Through the years, the dolls have become popular collectors' items.

John Dorrance becomes General Manager.

Campbell's soups enter the California market, giving the brand national distribution. One of the first ever efforts at market research, devised by the Curtis Publishing Company, finds that advertising is extremely successful and that Campbell’s soups are not bound to any one income class: a great majority of the people, regardless of income, eats one or more of the 21 varieties.

Dorrance hires Harry Hall, an agricultural expert, whose responsibility is to advise farmers under contract to Campbell in all aspects of vegetable growing. Tomato farmers are actually provided with seeds, the product of Hall’s efforts to breed the perfect soup-making tomato.

Campbell's Chicken with Rice and Cream of Celery soups are introduced.

Dr. John T. Dorrance assumes the Presidency of the company. Campbell advertises primarily in magazines, insisting that its ads be "the first advertisement following said text, on a right hand page facing a full page of text." This strategy is so successful that this advertising location is still known as the "Campbell’s soup position."

Campbell acquires the Franco-American Food Company, maker of gourmet foods. The Franco-American brand is continued for spaghetti and other pasta products.

John Dorrance buys out his aging uncle, Arthur, and becomes the sole owner of the Joseph Campbell Company.

The idea of cooking with condensed soup is introduced when Campbell publishes its first cookbook, "Helps for the Hostess". Today, more than one million cans of soup are used every day in recipes in the U.S.

Due to the immense demand of World War I soldiers for a nutritious soup, Campbell introduces Vegetable Beef soup.
The Joseph Campbell Company is formally dissolved and sold for one dollar to a newly formed company: Campbell Soup Company, reflecting its most famous and profitable product.

The Campbell Sales Company is formed.

Color advertisements debut in the leading women’s magazines.

Dr. John T. Dorrance dies and is succeeded as President by his brother, Arthur C. Dorrance.

A Canadian subsidiary, Campbell Soup Company Ltd., is organized.

Campbell begins radio advertising. In the years to follow, Campbell sponsors famous radio programs like the George Burns and Gracie Allen Show and the Campbell Playhouse. The familiar "M'm! M'm! Good!" slogan dances on the airwaves during these broadcasts.

The first plant begins production in Toronto.

A British Company, Campbell's Soups Limited, is organized. V8 juice is invented by W.G. Peacock and his son.

Cream of Mushroom soup is introduced, becoming Campbell’s first soup to be widely used as a sauce. A slip of the tongue on "Amos ‘n’ Andy" actually affects the sales of what is now one of Campbell’s most popular soups. Introduced this year and originally called "Chicken with Noodles," the soup enjoys only moderate success until the night Amos misreads his copy and accidentally calls the product Chicken Noodle soup. Within days, the company begins receiving large orders for this new soup. For some reason, this shift in nomenclature matters and shortly thereafter, the soup is formally renamed "Chicken Noodle." Today, Campbell uses almost a million miles of noodles in its Chicken Noodle soup each year, enough to circle the equator more than 40 times.

Campbell begins to manufacture its own cans.

Unable to find a wholesome loaf of commercial bread for her asthmatic son, Margaret Rudkin, a Fairfield, Connecticut, wife and mother, founds Pepperidge Farm, Incorporated. Campbell introduces Vegetarian Vegetable soup.

Campbell's Tomato juice is introduced nationally.

The first formal corporate Agricultural Research Department is established.

The Campbell Test Kitchens open. Campbell home economists develop recipes using condensed soups that become classics.

Campbell publishes its first full-length cookbook: Easy Ways to Good Meals.

Arthur C. Dorrance dies and is succeeded as President by James McGowan, Jr.

Campbell opens its third soup plant, in Sacramento, California. Campbell's Cream of Chicken soup is introduced. Campbell reintroduces Macaroni and Cheese under the Franco-American brand and creates Beef Gravy.

V8 Vegetable juice is acquired. Campbell raises the manufacturing of V8 juice to its high standards and begins to advertise it, using movie actor Ronald Reagan as a spokesman, among others.


The first Campbell television commercials air. The company goes on to sponsor such highly rated shows as Lassie and Peter Pan.

James McGowan, Jr. retires and William B. Murphy is elected President. The Campbell Soup Fund is organized as a private grant-making, non-profit corporation to direct funds to non-profit organizations in the U.S.

Campbell goes public with one class of common stock and is admitted for trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Campbell makes a major entry into frozen foods with the acquisition of C.A. Swanson & Sons, originators of the TV Dinner. (Swanson was part of the spinoff in 1998.)

Campbell home economists develop the recipe for the Green Bean Casserole, which continues today as one of the company's most popular and most requested recipes.

The Pepperidge Farm product line expands to include cookies.

A new corporate headquarters opens in Camden, New Jersey. The company establishes the International Division.

Campbell launches into the Mexican market, forming Campbell's de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. A new plant opens at King's Lynn, England.

Campbell acquires the bakery product manufacturer, Pepperidge Farm, and founder Margaret Rudkin remains president. Campbell also acquires Biscuits Delacre, the Belgian cookie and confection maker. (Campbell later divested Delacre in 1998).

Campbell rolls into Australia with the formation of Campbell’s Soups Pty. Limited.

Pop artist Andy Warhol paints his famous Campbell's Soup cans. Once, when asked why, he replies, "Because I used to drink (soup). I used to have the same lunch every day for 20 years." John (Jack) Dorrance, Jr., the son of Dr. Dorrance, is named Chairman of the Board.

Campbell common stock splits three-for-one. The first low-salt soups are developed.

The Food Service Division is created. Franco-American SpaghettiOs are introduced. Today, the SpaghettiOs line ranks as the leading brand of kids' canned pastas in the U.S.

Campbell acquires Godiva Chocolatier, Inc., quality candy manufacturer.

Campbell introduces Manhandler soups in response to housewives’ requests for a thicker soup to serve their husbands.

Campbell's Chunky ready-to-serve soups are introduced. The Campbell Museum opens in Camden as a showcase for the company’s outstanding soup tureen collection.

The new Research Complex and Pilot Plant open in Camden.

William B. Murphy retires and is succeeded as President by Harold A. Shaub.



Campbell introduces the successful "Labels for Education" program nationally. Through this program, schools and community groups can redeem labels from Campbell products for audio-visual equipment, teaching devices and other educational materials.

The remaining two-thirds of European Godiva candy companies are acquired.

Vlasic Foods, Inc. is acquired. (Vlasic was part of the spinoff in 1998.)

R. Gordon McGovern succeeds Harold A. Shaub as President.

Swift-Armour S.A. Argentina is acquired. (Swift-Armour S.A was part of the spinoff in 1998.)

Prego spaghetti sauces are introduced nationally. The recipe is based on a family favorite of one of the Campbell's chefs. The spices are imported from around the world to achieve the perfect blend. Prego spaghetti sauces eventually become the number one best selling new dry grocery product of the decade, as rated by A.C. Nielsen.

Campbell's Home Cookin' soups are introduced.

John T. Dorrance, Jr. retires as Chairman of the Board, a post held since 1962. He is succeeded by William S. Cashel, Jr. and Dorrance becomes the Chairman of the Board’s Executive Committee.

A two-for-one split of common stock is declared.

Campbell’s stock splits two-for-one.

Robert J. Vlasic is elected Chairman of the Board.

John T. Dorrance, Jr., the former Chairman of the Board and son of the originator of condensed soups, dies.

Australian David W. Johnson is named President and CEO. In January, the 20 billionth can of Campbell's condensed tomato soup is produced. A new television commercial featuring Campbell Kids singing a rap song about the benefits of soup is televised. It is the first time since 1958 that their voices have been heard. The introduction of Campbell's condensed Cream of Broccoli soup becomes the company's most successful new soup introduction in 55 years. It is launched with a "Get President George Bush to Eat Broccoli" recipe contest.

A two-for-one split of stock is announced. The company repurchases all public shares in its Canadian company. The Prego brand celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Campbell embarks on a strategic acquisition with a bid for control of Arnotts Ltd. (of Australia), the seventh largest biscuit manufacturer in the world.

Campbell acquires Fray Bentos, the United Kingdom's leading brand in premium canned meats. New manufacturing lines start-up at Campbell's King's Lynn facility to introduce V8 Vegetable Juice to the United Kingdom and all of Europe. Campbell and Nakano Vinegar Co. Ltd. create a joint venture to market Campbell's soups in Japan. Robert J. Vlasic retires as Chairman of the Board and David W. Johnson is elected his successor.

Campbell celebrates its 125th anniversary. Campbell introduces a new red & white soup label design featuring pictures of the product. Campbell's soups remain a favorite item in the U.S., with an average of eight cans found in every household. Americans purchase more than 70 cans of Campbell's soup every second. Worldwide, more than 100 cans per second are purchased. They are purchased more often than any other product in supermarkets nationally.

SpaghettiOs pasta celebrates its 30th birthday.

Campbell acquires: Pace — the number one brand of Mexican sauces; Greenfield Healthy Foods — the leader in fat-free brownies in health and convenience stores.

Campbell acquires Erasco, the number-one-selling canned soup of Germany. Campbell introduces Simply Home soup in resealable glass jars.

Campbell introduces an innovative new fruit and carrot-based juice, V8 Splash. Campbell names Dale F. Morrison president and chief executive officer. Morrison previously served as president of Campbell's International and Specialty Foods. David Johnson remains as Chairman of the Board. Campbell Soup Company joins Superbowl Champion Reggie White in the fight against hunger. The program includes Campbell donating 20,000 cans for every tackle White makes, and 50,000 cans for every sack. At the end of the season, Campbell ultimately donated a total of 1,300,000 cans of soup. White also joined hockey legend Wayne Gretzky as the first two people ever featured on a can of Campbell's soup. Campbell purchases the leading Liebig wet soup business in France from Danone SA, Europe's third largest food company.


In January, Campbell Soup Company names ice skating champions Nicole Bobek, Michelle Kwan, and Tara Lipinski as the first-ever women to appear on the soup label. Campbell announces spinoff of Vlasic Foods International, a $1.4 billion company including Vlasic, Swanson and Swift-Armour brands. Fortun Foods, makers of StockPot soup, the market leader in the rapidly emerging premium refrigerated soup segment, is acquired. Campbell introduces Campbell's ready to serve Tomato soup, Campbell's Soup To Go microwavable soups and Swanson seasoned chicken broths.


Campbell's Select soups, a line of ready to serve soups. In France, Campbell France premieres Liebig Pur Soup, a new line of vegetable soups in shelf-stable aseptic packaging, and Liebig Soup Creative, vegetable soups in resealable bottles. Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Grahams and Pepperidge Farm Garlic Toast are introduced. Godiva ice cream is launched. Campbell introduces Campbell's Meal-Mail, an internet based recipe service.


Red & White ready to serve soups premiere. Easy-open pop-top lids are now available on Campbell's ready to serve soups. StockPot opens new manufacturing site in Redmond, Washington. Campbell Germany launches Erasco Aroma Pack ready to serve soups in easy open pouches. In the U.K., Homepride Pasta Bake is launched. And in Australia, Campbell introduces Campbell's Velish, soups in aseptic packaging and Campbell's Tomato Reddy, ready to serve tomato soup in plastic bottles. Pepperidge Farm launches Giant Goldfish crackers and introduces Farmhouse breads. Other new products include: Diet V8 Splash, Prego Roasted Chicken sauce and Prego Chicken with Parmesan sauce, Franco-American SpaghettiOs Plus Calcium pasta.

Douglas R. Conant assumes Presidency and George Sherman is elected Chairman of the Board. Campbell reintroduces its M'm!, M'm! Good! slogan in its advertising. Campbell becomes Official Soup Supplier to the U.S. Olympic Team in preparation for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, UT. Campbell acquires leading instant dry soup and bouillon brands in Europe, including Oxo, Batchelors, Heisse Tasse, Blå Band and Royco. Campbell's Field minor league stadium, home to the Camden Riversharks, opens on the Delaware River waterfront in Camden, N.J. Campbell introduces Campbell's Supper Bakes, easy to prepare meal kits. Godiva celebrates 75th anniversary. Other new products: Prego Pasta Bake sauce, Pepperidge Farm Dessert Bliss cookies, Pepperidge Farm Giant Goldfish Sandwich Crackers, Arnott's Emporio biscuits (in Australia).


Campbell introduces Campbell's Soup At Hand, convenient soup for on-the-go eating. Campbell acquires Snack Foods Limited, a leader in the Australian salty snack category, and Erin Foods, Ireland's second largest dry soup business. Campbell Europe opens new office near Cambridge, England.



Campbell introduces Campbell's Chunky and Select soups in microwaveable bowls. Campbell's Kitchen Classics ready-to-serve soups premiere. V8 Splash Smoothies introduced. Pepperidge Farm Mini cookies including Milano, Brussels Chessman and Chocolate Chunk varieties are launched.

Campbell Soup Company celebrates its 50th year of listing on the New York Stock Exchange. Campbell Kids turn 100 years old. Campbell Chunky introduces four varieties of hearty chili's including Roadhouse, Firehouse, Tantalizin' Turkey, and Sizzlin' Steak. Our condensed soups business introduces a line of Southwest Style Cooking Soups and Campbell's Carb Request soups. Pepperidge Farm introduces Carb Style Breads and Rolls. Godiva Chocolatier introduces Sugar Free chocolate bars. Arnott's Tim Tam launches in China under the brand name, Tian Dian.





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