1906
Amedeo Obici, head of Planters Peanut Company, and extraordinary Italian American entrepreneurs during the first half of the 20th century.


Amedeo Obici (1877-1947) was an Italian immigrant Horatio Alger story, that is a rags to riches saga. He arrived in this country virtually penniless, yet rose to become a highly successful business person. Obici was born in 1877 in Treviso province Italy and at age 12 arrived in America with 12 cents to his name. He went to work for an uncle selling fruit in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He acquired valuable expertise in the fruit business while also absorbing education in the schools of his adopted land. Realizing the potential market for roasting and packaging peanuts, he purchased parts for a crude roaster to roast peanuts and sell to a receptive public. In 1906 this developed into so prosperous a business that Obici was able to open factories in various states, market his products extensively and become the head of The Planters Peanut Company, one of the great corporations in the United States. In the process he became not only wealthy but also engaged in philanthropy.

Obici was not the only Italian American rags to riches story. Mention can be made of a few others as examples. Ciro Paolella, for example, born in Benevento province, Italy in 1892, came to this country in 1909 with little money and no job prospects. Yet by dint of hard work as a mason and builder, he was able to start a construction firm, only to see it fail. Nothing daunted, he went into business once again in 1922 establishing the Plasticrete Corporation of Hamden, Connecticut, that became one of New England's biggest producers of construction materials. John Riccardi, born in Bassiano, Italy in 1882, came to this country in 1903 with little money to his name. In 1919 he founded the Roman Cleanser Company in Detroit, the first to introduce household bleach to the United States. This enabled him to become the largest producer of the product. Sebastiani Poli began to earn pennies as an organ grinder with a dancing monkey that enabled him to eventually start a chain of movie theaters that he sold for 30 million dollars. Louis R. Perini, born in Massachusetts in 1903 of northern Italian immigrant parents would preside over the Perini Construction Company, one of the largest building firms in the country. Founded by his father in 1918, Louis took over in 1924 after his father's death. Although possessing little more than grammar school education very knowledgeable in construction industry that he guided from a family firm into a worldwide construction firm listed on the New York Stock Exchange. He also purchased the financially unprofitable Boston Braves Baseball team and moved it to profit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.






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