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ANTHONY TALAMO ROSSI

"When we made the first fruit section in jars, they think we are crazy. We start to chill juice, we are crazy. But the chilled juice got so good, we had to buy a ship to move it. That's crazy too." Anthony Talamo Rossi was born on September 13, 1900 in Messina, Sicily. He founded Tropicana Products in 1947, one of the world's largest producers of citrus juice. When he was 8, Anthony experienced the massive earthquake and tsunami that took 120,000 lives. Many Italians from Sicily and Calabria were forced to emigrate to America. "I came here in 1921, from Sicily, 21 years old. It was exciting, exciting. I came here to make money, to make enough to explore Africa. There were five of us, other boys like me, in Italy. We wanted to make a film, to cross Africa from the Belgian Congo, to film the animals, the life, the country. It was not the film - it was the adventure. I came first to New York. But I like the country so much, I don't leave."

To finance the film venture, the young Mr. Rossi took jobs as a construction worker, taxi driver and chauffeur, finally striking out on his own as a grocer in Queens. After 13 years, he moved to Bradenton, south of Tampa. He opened a cafeteria and rented a tomato farm. With the profits, he opened a large restaurant in Miami Beach but World War II started so he sold the restaurant and began selling gift boxes of oranges, grapefruits and clementines he bought directly from growers. The business became a company, Fruit Industries Inc., which was soon supplying the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel with 1,000 gallons of sliced citrus fruit a week. He called the brand Tropicana from the name "Tropic Ana", the little Hawaiian girl carrying a basket of fruit, the company's trademark.

In 1954, Anthony Rossi invented and patented a pasteurization process to aseptically pack pure chilled juice in glass bottles, allowing it to be shipped and stored without refrigeration. For the first time, it was possible to offer the consumers over a widespread area the fresh taste of orange juice made from 100-percent fruit. He also devised a method of freezing pure whole citrus juice in 20-US-gallon (76 L) blocks for storage and shipping. "The main thing is how you extract. If the orange is green you must squeeze light. When you get too much rain, the orange gets more crispy, water tightens the skin. Then you've got to loosen the machine. I am the quality control, I have a very keen taste." He checked the juices everyday..

By 1957, a ship, S.S. Tropicana was taking 1.5 million US gallons (5,700 m3) of juice from Florida to New York each week. In 1970, a mile-long Tropicana Juice Train originating on the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad began carrying 1 million US gallons (3,800,000 L) of juice with one weekly round-trip from Florida to Kearny, New Jersey.

In 1978, Rossi sold Tropicana to Beatrice Foods and retired as chairman, president and chief operating officer, the same year that the Beatrice Food Company bought Tropicana's stock for nearly $500 million. He died on January 24, 1993.

SOURCE:

Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_T._Rossi

A TASTE FOR PROFITS - New York Times June 16, 1974