With Progresso bread crumbs.
Central Grocery, New Orleans, interior view, 1906. Shopkeeper Salvatore Lupo seen behind the counter. Times-Picayune archive via WikiMedia Commons.
In the middle and late 19th century, Italy was being unified as a constitutional monarchy, but continuing inequality in the Southern parts of the country–and especially Sicily, which at times was maintained under martial law due to peasant uprisings–drove waves of emigrants to the United States. While that influence is most famously recorded for the effect it had on our largest port, New York (for one example, see our discussion of the Artichoke King in Yesterdish’s Fried Artichoke Bites With Aioli), it also had some effects on our second largest port, New Orleans.
Of the various contributions made to New Orleans culture by Italian immigrants, the most famous is probably the muffuletta (it’s pronounced something along the lines of moof-fuhletta) sandwich–a cold sandwich on a round loaf of Italian bread, baked fresh daily, stacked high with meat and an olive salad, invented in 1906 at the French Quarter’s Central Grocery by owner Salvatore Lupo.
Muffaletta by Carnaval King 08, on Flickr (CC license) (cropped)
But of course, that’s another story. It was one year later, however, that the Uddo family set up shop in New Orleans, continuing the family grocery business by selling imported products like tomato paste and olives from a horse-drawn cart in the French Quarter. (Here’s the family in the 1920 census; Guiseppe is listed under the name Joseph.)
Around the same time, the Taormina family was engaged in the same business; here’s Vincenzo Taormina and his family in the 1920 census.
Joseph and Vincent would form the Uddo & Taormina Corporation in 1925, buying a warehouse and a physical grocery in the French quarter, and shortly thereafter, a cannery in California. The canned goods would ultimately carry a name that shared the spirit of optimism common among immigrants who had achieved the American dream in the years after the Great War, the Italian word for Progress: Progresso.
From a box sold in Nampa, Idaho.
2-1/2 to 3 lbs. chicken, cut into serving pieces
1/2 cup flour, mixed with 1 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper
1 egg, beaten with 1/4 cup milk
1-1/2 cups Progresso Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup Marsala wine
Preheat ovens to 350 deg. Coat chicken pieces with flour, dip into egg mixture, then roll in bread crumbs. Place chicken into oiled baking pan, skin side up. Make sure pieces are not touching. Dot with butter or margarine and bake 45 minutes or until nicely browned. Do not turn. Drain fat. Pour marsala wine over surface of chicken. Cover with foil, bake 5-10 minutes longer. Serves 4-6.