America's First Pasta Factory Was Opened By A French Immigrant

If you're an American who appreciates a freshly served bowl of pasta, there's an enterprising entrepreneur who deserves appreciation. At age 32, Antoine Zerega moved from his home in Lyon, France to the United States, where he found himself opening a pasta factory in Brooklyn. The year was 1848, and Zerega could have had no idea of the significant impact his family business would have on the eating habits of Americans. In fact, Zerega's work established the groundwork for an industry that would bring in over 6 billion dollars each year. 

While Thomas Jefferson had carried with him a European device to make macaroni at home, it was Zerega who first powered machinery by horses and dried pasta in the sun to be packaged and sold. Zerega's waterfront Front Street shop, the part of Brooklyn that is now referred to as Dumbo by locals, was the starting point for a company that would grow, evolve, and remain in the Zerega family until it was acquired over 170 years later by Philadelphia Macaroni.

A lasting legacy of pasta

Zerega and other pasta makers organized what was called the American Manufacturers of Macaroni Association, and Brooklyn was recognized as a powerhouse of pasta after the association's convention was held yearly in the area. In the 1960s, Zerega's regional pasta production expanded into a national service, and hungry citizens across the country were able to taste the makings from the Zerega factory. Apart from upgraded equipment, not much has changed.

Even today, Zerega continues to crank out over 800 million pounds of dry pasta each year, and the factory makes over 300 different kinds of pasta noodles to ship across the country. The company prides itself on making more pasta varieties in different shapes and dimensions than any other manufacturer and works firsthand with restaurants and chefs in order to perfect each piece of dough that is just the right size, texture, and form desired by industry professionals who are eager to please customers. The next time you dig into a steaming bowl of pasta, you, too, can remember the entrepreneurial efforts of Zerega.