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Amedeo Obici was an Italian-American businessman who founded the Planters Peanut Company. He was born in Oderzo, a town in the province of Treviso, northern Italy, on July 15, 1877. His father, Pietro Ludovico Obici died when Amedeo was only seven. His mother, Luigia Carolina Sartori, was left behind with two sons, Amedeo and Frank, and two daughters. In 1889, his mother's brother, Vittorio Sartori, invited him to come to Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he was living with his family.

11-year old Amedeo sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in March 1889, arrived in Brooklyn, New York, and rode a train to Scranton. But he was given the wrong information so he ended up in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The people in the train station took him to the local Italian fruit store owned by Enrico Musante, who had a daughter, Louise Musante. He spent some time with them before he could get in touch with his uncle in Scranton, but he often returned to Wilkes-Barre where he attended classes and worked in the Musante fruit store where they had a peanut roaster and a fan that blew the fragrance of the roasting peanuts out to the street to lure customers.

The time Amedeo spent with the Musantes inspired him to get his own peanut cart. Roaster ovens were expensive, so he made a rudimentary roaster from parts obtained at a local scrap yard, and to promote his peanuts he put one letter of his last name in each bag of peanuts, O, B, I, or C. He inserted only one letter "O" for every fifty bags, and the customers who got the bags with the letter "O" won a gold watch. The watch was an Ingersoll gold-colored watch, which he purchased for a dollar.

Amedeo saved his money and in 1895 he brought the rest of his family from Italy to the United States. With the remaining savings, he was able to open his own fruit stand and an eating-establishment which served oyster stew and roasted peanuts in a building in downtown Wilkes-Barre. There, in 1897, 20-year old Amedeo teamed up with Mario Peruzzi, another Italian-American immigrant who was working for a wholesale grocer. Born in Treviso, Mario was the son of a Baptist Minister. He attended the Venice Industrial School and emigrated to the United States three years before. Amedeo and Mario founded Planters Peanut Company (unincorporated) nine years later, in 1906, and incorporated it as Planters Nut and Chocolate Company in 1908.

In 1913, they built a new processing plant in the heart of peanut farming territory in Suffolk, Virginia. Obici invented a new method of skinning and blanching peanuts so the roasted goobers came out clean. Part of Obici's genius was in marketing and finding new products to add to Planter's stock. In 1916 he married Louise Musante and in 1924 they moved to Virginia from Scranton to purchase the 253 acre (1 km²) Bay Point Farm. By 1930, Planters owned four factories.

Louise Musante Obici died in 1938. Amedeo wanted to create a lasting memorial for her and by 1941 had settled on a hospital (Louise Obici Memorial Hospital in Suffolk, Virginia). Amedeo Obici continued to live at Bay Point Farm until he died in 1947, aged 69. At that point, Mario Peruzzi was the director of the Mineral National Bank, the city largest financial institution but in 1949 he had to resign because of the demands of Planter's. He died in 1955, aged 80, living his wife Elizabeth (Amedeo’s sister), a son and a daughter.



New York Times Obituaries