Jeno Paulucci, inventor of the pizza roll, passed away on Nov. 24 at the age of 93.
Paulucci’s major accomplishments were in ready-made foods. His first successful product was Chun King, the Chinese canned food line featuring chow mein, bean sprouts and other Asian vegetables, in 1944. In 1957, he patented the Divider-Pak packaging, which keeps food separate from its sauce, which is still being used today in many Asian-themed ready-made foods. Paulucci sold Chun King to R. J. Reynolds for $63 million in 1966.
In 1968, Paulucci founded Jeno’s Inc., a company that started selling pizza dough kits, frozen pizzas and a variety of snacks. The most notable of these snacks was the pizza roll, a combination single slice pizza and egg roll. Paulucci then sold Jeno’s Inc. to Pillsbury for $135 million in 1985. The next year, Jeno’s Pizza Rolls were rebranded as Totino’s Pizza Rolls, which are still available in stores today.
Paulucci also founded Michelina’s Inc. (named after his mother), which sold ready-made pasta and Mexican dishes. Now known as Bellisio Foods, the company sells its products worldwide.