10/8/2021  WCIR.biz

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF)

The Italians That Built America: Amedeo Obici

Amedeo Obici was born in 1877 in the northern Italian region of Veneto. When he was just seven years old, his father died, leaving his mother to care for him and his three other siblings. A few years later, Obici was invited by his uncle to come live with them in Scranton, Pa. Once there, Obici had difficulties living in the United States, as he spoke no English. He commuted to a nearby town almost every night to take classes to improve his language skills. As a young man, he worked at a fruit shop, which inspired him to get his own peanut cart and experiment with roasting peanuts made a rudimentary roaster from parts obtained at a local scrap yard and selling them to customers. With the money he made from the peanuts sales, Obici saved enough money to bring the rest of his immediate family over from Italy to join him in the United States.

Later, he teamed up with Mario Peruzzi, another Italian American immigrant, and they founded Planters Peanuts Company in 1906. Obici had invented a new method of skinning and blanching the peanuts so that they came out clean, making them a very popular snacking food. In 1913, the pair built a new plant in the heart of peanut farming territory in Suffolk, Virginia, making it the capital of peanuts in the United States. By 1930, the company owned four factories and was rapidly expanding. Obici and his wife made serious efforts to give back to the surrounding area of Suffolk and were well-known for their generosity; they eventually built a hospital to benefit the community. Through his estate, Obici also planned and paid for another hospital in his original hometown of Oderzo, Italy. Obici passed away in 1947, but left behind a multimillion-dollar legacy and a true Italian American immigrant success story.

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