Vincent DeDomenico


NAPA, Calif. (AP) - Vincent DeDomenico, co-inventor of Rice-A-Roni, whose catchy TV jingle paid homage to San Francisco and made the pasta dish known to every baby boomer, has died. He was 92.

DeDomenico died Thursday with his wife, Mildred, by his side, his family said. He had kept working until the day before his death.

Along with his brothers, DeDomenico, the son of Italian immigrants, created the packaged side dish of rice and pasta for their San Francisco-based family business. "The San Francisco treat" became known in the 1960s through TV commercials that featured the city's cable cars.

In the 1930s, he and his brothers were running their parents' pasta business in San Francisco's Mission District. They got to experimenting in a test kitchen with recipes combining long-grain white rice, broken pieces of vermicelli and chicken broth. The dish evolved from a recipe one of their wives had originally gotten from a landlady.

"It was a struggle," DeDomenico told the San Francisco Chronicle last year. "Times were hard and I knew if we were going to make any money, we were going to have to come up with something else."

Rice-A-Roni, as it came to be called, became a national brand in the 1960s. The brothers sold the Golden Grain Macaroni Co. to Quaker Oats in 1986 for $275 million. By then the company also included such products as Ghirardelli Chocolate.

In later years, DeDomenico bought 21 miles of railroad track in Napa Valley and several vintage passenger cars, creating a tourist attraction called the Napa Valley Wine Train.

"He was a dreamer," said Mildred DeDomenico, 87. "He always had all these plans. He'd write them down on pieces of paper. He was a man who could never retire."

Born in San Francisco in 1915, one of six children, DeDomenico went to work for his father's pasta company as a salesman while taking night business classes at Golden Gate College.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press

Guest Book

Not sure what to say?

Iv heard his jingle and although I don't know the man I feel earths lost a precious creative mind

i met Mr domenico throgh his son vincent in april 2001, i admire him, and caused a great impression on me as well as his mother.

hard workers

god bless!!! from COSTA RICA

Vicki, Marla, Vince and Michael:
I just now learn of the passing of your Father and your Mother. You know I loved them both and so fondly remember the many dinners, New Years parties, ping pong games, wine making and so much other fun. I had really planned on visiting the Ranch to see them, but just never made it. I can't express to you my sadness on hearing this news, but we were all so lucky to spend such great times together. All my Love, Tyler

A true friend and business associate. Vince, was one of a kind.

During the years that I worked in Property Services, I have fond memories of a modest and very nice gentleman. Mr. DeDomenico was sharp and dedicated to work even in his 90's!
I wish to extend my warmest Aloha to his lovely wife and family.

Our thoughts and prayers are sent to the family and friends of Mr. DeDomenico during this very sad time. He truly lived the American dream. We are originally from Vallejo, CA and had the opportunity to ride the Wine Train. It was just wonderful!! Rest in peace, Mr. DeDomenico, and may the angels greet you at the gates of Heaven.

I am so sorry for your loss. Your name caught my eye. My grandfather's name was Americo DiDomenico. He too had parents that we're from Italy. We all are from New York and Pennsylvania orginally. Now we live in California. Anyway, he had a brother also named Vincent, such a small world with many simlarities. Again, my heart goes out to your family and my prayers are with all of you for the Love of our Lord to comfort you at this time.

I love Rice-A-Roni. I never knew the story behind the sidedish. My mother and grandparents were from Napa. I have many fond memories from there. What a great man. Rest in peace.