14 April 2020

Antonio Ferro: SLC Macaroni King

Antonio Ferro. From Utah Since Statehood 1919.
Colorization done by My Heritage

The Pasta King of Salt Lake City was Mr. Antonio Ferro (1872-1944), an Italian immigrant who built a pasta empire and made it fashionable for Utahans to eat spaghetti. 

Mr. Ferro was born in Italy and immigrated to the United States in 1894 at the age of 22.  Initially he worked as a miner in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and then Mercer, Utah.  

In 1896 he gave up mining and moved to Salt Lake City where he established a small grocery store at 598 W. 200 South in what is now Old Greektown.  At some point Ferro started making pasta and selling it out of this small store.

In 1906 the Western Macaroni Manufacturing Co was incorporated with Antonio Ferro the Secretary and General Manager.  The company established their factory at 244 S 500 West, which is still standing.

In Oct 1909, Ferro and the company got into a bit of trouble.  Ferro was arrested and eventually found guilty for stealing $10 worth of electricity from Utah Power and Light by placing a “jumper” on an electric wire which carried the electricity past the meter.  According to newspapers this was a common practice for many at the time but Ferro was the first arrested and convicted for it.  The power company vowed to deploy special agents to inspect all power lines to see who else was engaged in this practice. 

By 1916 Western Macaroni was the largest company of its kind west of Chicago.  And it kept growing through the WWI years which caused imports to be cut off from Europe and people in America turned more towards domestic products.  The company doubled its capacity to fill the void mostly selling to foreign born peoples. 

By the end of WWI Western Macaroni had a daily capacity of 6 tons of pasta and 45 varieties under the label “Queen’s Taste.”  The factory had been expanded with manufacturing taking place on the ground floor, shipping and office on the 2nd floor, drying and storing on the 3rd, and storing of raw materials on the 5th floor.  At this time the company started publishing pasta recipes in the local paper and spaghetti and other pastas became more accepted outside the Italian American community.

By 1935 Ferro had bought out the other partners and was owner and manager of the business.  He retired in 1942 due to ill health; the company was dissolved at the same time. 

The Western Macaroni building is still standing and was recently rehabilitated to historic standards.  It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Advertisement, Salt Lake Tribune April 3 1912

Western Macaroni Manufacturing Co Building at 598 W. 200 South in April 2020.

Western Macaroni Manufacturing Co in 1927, From UDSH.

Western Macaroni Co., Interior of Packing Room 1924. From UDSH.

Western Macaroni Co., Presses 1924. From UDSH.

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