The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF):
The Italians That Built America: Anthony T. Rossi
Anthony T. Rossi was an Italian immigrant who founded Tropicana Products, one of the top orange juice producers in the United States. Born in Messina, Sicily in 1900, Rossi was one of nine children. He came to the United States at the age of 21 and worked a series of jobs in New York City before moving to Florida, with the intention of becoming a tomato farmer. During WWII, he became involved in the Florida citrus industry. In 1947, he purchased a small orange juice company, which would soon become the Tropicana Products company. Initially, his distribution of fresh orange juice was simply local, but it demand began to spread nationwide – especially in New York City. Soon, Rossi was supplying NYC’s Waldorf-Astoria with over 1,000 gallons of sliced oranges a week.
Aside from developing some of the first refrigerated trucks, to preserve his products, Rossi created a pasteurization process that allowed the fresh orange juice to be bottled and stored without concentration or refrigeration. Rossi is officially the man to thank for orange juice not made from frozen concentrate, as well as the man to thank for incorporating citrus products into school food programs. By the late 1950’s, Rossi’s ship S.S. Tropicana was transporting over 1.5 million gallons of orange juice from Florida to New York each week. In 1978, Rossi sold Tropicana and retired.
The company now belongs to PepsiCo, growing from its original 50 employees to over 10,000. He made regularly made trips back to Sicily, where he helped build a church and mission. Rossi passed away in 1993 but leaves a legacy with his induction to the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1987 and through his Aurora Foundation, which funds various Christian programs.
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