The Rise of SpaghettiOs



On May 16, 1965 a revolutionary children’s cuisine product was introduced to American consumers. This abomination of Italian food culture was, and still remains, one of Campbell’s Soup Co.’s most profitable products of all time – SpaghettiOs. (Uh, oh.)


The concept for canned SpaghettiOs was created by Donald “The Daddy-O of SpaghettiOs” Goerke, after studying ways in which spaghetti could be eaten by children with less of a mess. (FAIL.) The market was immediately split between messy children, and drunken college students looking for a high sodium diet that could be eaten out of a miniature, aluminum garbage can.


The tagline, “The neat round spaghetti you can eat with a spoon”, clearly encouraged the shoveling of this highly processed meal in mass quantities, and marked the beginning of the American marketing philosophy of, “Eating like a pig is acceptable”.


These guys aren’t helping:


(Be sure to explore this character’s channel to enjoy such classics as: “20 Pieces of Bubble Gum Chewed and Swallowed”, “Eats a Block of Cream Cheese in 66 Seconds” and who could forget – “NY Strip Steak Eaten Raw before Your Eyes”. WTF.)




(This “Lunatick” thought that the recipe could have used more salt… big shocker there.)




The recipe for SpaghettiOs is simple enough – a mystery “tomato and cheese sauce” (your guess is as good as mine) and a crap-load of chewy circle-shaped noodles. In addition to the standard SpaghettiOs recipe, Franco-American introduced the “Meatball” and “Frank” versions… because nothing says homemade spaghetti like cut-up hotdogs.


The real desire behind this runny gruel for children wasn’t from the taste, nor was it inspired by the crack head-like demeanor of the kids from their commercials – it was the genius introduction of pop culture inspired noodle shapes. Alphabet letters, Batman, Spiderman, GARGOYLES, Disney Princesses, Where’s Waldo, Dora the Explorer… you name it, SpaghettiOs made them into a noodle.


Here’s the shape that got me hooked… still looking for the adapter to plug SpaghettiOs into a Sega Genesis.


Speaking of hooked, in 1995 (the peak of SpaghettiOs’ popularity) a death row inmate named Thomas J. Grasso requested his last meal consist of a single can of SpaghettiOs. They were not available in the area. (How?!) The prison staff attempted to make it up by supplying Grasso with: two dozen steamed mussels, two dozen steamed clams, a double cheeseburger from Burger King, a half-dozen barbequed spare ribs, two strawberry milkshakes, a half of a pumpkin pie, diced strawberries and a knock-off brand can of spaghetti… with meatballs. You’d think that would be good enough.


Grasso’s last words were: “I did not get SpaghettiOs, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know about this.”


This guy was dead serious… (Get it?!)


As vile and disgusting as an out-of-the-can dinner can be, SpaghettiOs are undeniably one of the best choices on the shelf. (Chef Boyardee says, “That’s-ah false-ah!”) So when mom burns the turkey, or you have an insatiable craving for a bastardized spaghetti with a hint of aluminum flavoring – just wait for a giant O-shaped noodle to fly in on a skateboard and hook you up.




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