You can’t walk into a grocery store without seeing the iconic red and white label proudly displayed on the shelves, boasting their ready-made soups. Andy Warhol liked them so much that he created a renowned piece of art featuring their label and every type of canned soup the company offered at the time in 1962.
Though their first plant was established in Camden, New Jersey, Joseph Campbell and Abraham Anderson’s newest venture quickly became associated with the city of Philadelphia. Only seven years after entering their partnership, though, Anderson left the company, and Arthur Dorrance stepped in to take his place and begin a new company with Campbell in 1882.
Dorrance goes on to succeed Campbell as company president in 1894 when Campbell retires, and that effectively ends the Campbell family’s association with the company, despite the legacy their name carries. It is not until after Campbell’s departure that the company introduced its now-iconic ready-to-eat tomato soup in 1895. It was at that time that history truly was made.
Thanks to the invention of condensed soup, courtesy of Arthur Dorrance’s nephew Dr. John T. Dorrance, Campbell’s Soup Company rolls out five varieties of soup, including tomato. Even to this day, Campbell’s tomato soup remains one of the top 10 shelf-stable foods in the United States. A year later in 1898, a company executive attended a Cornell-Penn football game and found himself so enamored with Cornell’s colors that he convinced Campbell to adopt red and white as their label colors. The medal that decorates the can came in 1900 at the Paris Exhibition for product excellence, and thus, the label we all know and love came into existence.
A Philadelphia artist sketches the Campbell kids for an advertisement in 1904, who come to play essential roles down the line for Campbell’s marketing department. Most recently, they portrayed athletes training for the 2010 Winter Olympics, but historically have adopted different roles depending on the culture of the time.
Under John T. Dorrance’s leadership, Campbell’s achieves their first acquisition, Franco-American Food Company. By this point, they have already established national distribution, and a few short years later, it becomes evident that America loves condensed soup. In fact, America loves condensed soup so much that Campbell officially changed its name to Campbell Soup Company in 1922.
They make company history with their first radio advertisement, launching the “M-M-M-Good” campaign in 1931, and have their television commercial in 1950. Between that span of almost twenty years, Campbell’s comes up with two of their most popular soups to date: chicken noodle and cream of mushroom.
1941 sees the opening of the Campbell Test Kitchen, where chefs would develop new recipes, and continue to do so to this day. The company finally goes public on the New York Stock Exchange in 1954, allowing others to partake in this growing company’s success. In 1957, Campbell’s officially goes international by creating an international division at their headquarters in Camden, New Jersey.
As the 1960s begin, Andy Warhol creates his now-famous Campbell’s Soup Cans, which only add to the soups’ popularity across the country. This year also marks the introduction of Goldfish crackers into the food industry, and given their continued production today, have proven to be a success. By this time, Campbell’s chefs have also created the Green Bean Casserole (then Green Bean Bake), which is also still widely enjoyed in kitchens across the United States. This decade sees the introduction of Spaghettio’s, as well, a staple of childhood diets for many. In particular, 1965 proves to be an important year, as this marks the beginning of Campbell’s food service distribution for restaurants.
Through the years, Campbell’s goes on to acquire a number other companies to expand their offerings. Companies such as V8, Pepperidge Farm, Viasic Foods, Inc., Arnott’s Ltd., Pace Foods, Erasco Group, Liebig, Fortun Foods, Ecce Panis, Kelsen Group, and Plum Organics become part of the Campbell’s family. Instead of just a soup company, they have expanded into baked goods, bread, crackers, organic baby foods, and gain influence in more than 85 countries, thanks to their business acumen.
They celebrated their 125th anniversary in 1994 and welcomed not only their twelfth CEO and president but first female CEO and president, in 2011. They continue to lead in technology for their industry, by creating resealable lids for their many broths, microwavable containers, and pop-open lids on cans to eliminate the need for a can-opener. The brand that began as a humble soup company has flourished into a food industry giant fine-tuning their products and continually introducing new ones. Today, Campbell’s serves as a significant contributor to the community, taking on initiatives such as pairing with the American Heart Association to promote heart disease awareness. They seek to provide customers with the same quality that Joseph Campbell and Abraham Anderson founded the company on almost 150 years ago, and are always looking for new, integrative ways to provide the highest caliber, freshest foods possible.