I found an interesting bit of history on Chun King and its founder here. Jeno Paulucci was the son of Italian immigrants noticing a market for take-home food flavored from the Orient.
Mr. Paulucci became fascinated with the legumes and the fact that they could grow year-round despite Minnesota’s harsh winters. He began cultivating his own stock and selling the sprouts to restaurants as a salad ingredient.Despite what you might think of the authenticity of Chun King grocery store items, I'm saluting "The American Way" entrepreneurship and the blending of cultures to create a successful market for a product.
Passing through towns hawking his bean sprouts, Mr. Paulucci saw many Chinese food restaurants but noticed that most grocery stores didn’t offer any prepared Asian dishes.
“The food industry was missing the boat, allowing restaurants to handle all the take-home business,” he once said.
He came up with his own chop suey recipe by canning his sprouts and adding bits of celery, pimentos and an Italian herb mixture suggested by his mother.
In 1947, he was loaned $2,500 from a friend and started Chun King. Beginning in 1960, he hired radio comedian Stan Freberg to host the “Chun King Chow Mein Hour” in honor of the Chinese New Year.
Enjoy these mid-century Chun King ads:
November 4, 1957 Life Magazine
December 16, 1957 Life Magazine
January 27, 1958 Life Magazine
March 31, 1958 Life Magazine
June 23, 1958 Life Magazine
July 21, 1958 Life Magazine
August 18, 1958 Life Magazine
September 15, 1958 Life Magazine
October 20, 1958 Life Magazine
November 10, 1958 Life Magazine
December 8, 1958 Life Magazine
January 12, 1959 Life Magazine
Just in time for Lent!
March 16, 1959 Life Magazine
June 22, 1959 Life Magazine