Pasta King of St. Louis

John Baptiste Gandolfo journeyed far in nearly 80 years of life.  Born in 1842 in Allasio, on the Italian Riviera, it was happenstance that brought him to St. Louis in 1864.  His regiment, the 178th New York infantry, was rushed here to meet the threat of a Confederate invasion.  As a captain, he commanded his regiment during the October 1, 1864 battle at Pacific, Missouri.  His Civil War service ended in Montgomery, Alabama in 1866; there, he commanded the Union occupiers of the town that had been the cradle of the Confederacy in 1861.  He met and married a Mobile belle, and together they moved to St. Louis in 1870.

In 1876, Gandolfo co-founded the Gandolfo-Ghio Manufacturing Company, and engaged in the manufacture of spaghetti and macaroni, and other food products, on South 8th Street in St. Louis. His company, which changed its name to Checker Food Products, later entered the cereal business and grew to become a major competitor to Ralston Purina.  Over the course of 20 years, long after Gandolfo passed away, the two companies fought out the rights to the Checkerboard and Chex brands.

John Gandolfo died in 1922, and is buried at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery south of St. Louis.  Checker Food Products is still with us.