Campbell Soup Company,Tomato,Soup,Recipe,Tomato soup,John Thompson Dorrance,Beefsteak,Ingredient,Cracker Barrel

What Campbell Learned From a 101-Year-Old Tomato Soup Recipe

December 19, 2016

And what’s a #16 bucket? Almost all Americans have a few old family recipes on file to make beloved, home-made meals. At Campbell Soup, these recipes can go back a little further than a generation or two. Tucked away in the archives of the company behind the namesake tomato soup, Goldfish crackers and Prego was Dr. John Dorrance’s original beefsteak tomato soup recipe from 1915. And this year, it made 10,000 jars by following the 101-year-old soup recipe as closely as it could. Plans are in place to sell a small batch line of soups in 2017 for a limited time in Cracker Barrel CBRL 0.32% locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The journey to create this line of soup—from finding local, New Jersey tomatoes to learning what measurement the recipe actually meant when it said to ‘use a #16 bucket’—was talked about with great pride when Fortune visited Campbell Soup’s CPB 0.12% Camden, N.J. headquarters. “I’ve been with Campbell’s for 32 years and the day we were working on this, it was the best day for me with Campbell’s,” said Pete Imhoff, director of pilot plant operations at Campbell. “I felt like I was walking in Dr. Dorrance’s footsteps.” Many other executives and team members agreed: the investment Campbell made in resurfacing this recipe—which hadn’t been used in many decades—felt inspiring. A return to the old way of doing things in some way mirrors the challenges we see in the food and beverage industry today, as consumers demand cleaner and leaner foods with fewer artificial ingredients and colors. Campbell—which sells 85 million cans of tomato soup each year in the U.S.—says it is on that journey too. “As we looked back and did some navel-gazing back into our history and our roots, we found things about ourselves that are super relevant to consumers and are different than what other food companies can offer,” said Mark Alexander, president of Campbell’s Americas division. It all starts with Dorrance John Dorrance was first employed by Campbell Soup in 1897, hired by his uncle Arthur as a family favor to give his nephew some direction. The younger Dorrance’s first project was to try to figure out how to make a condensed soup, a recipe he quickly solved with his educational background in chemistry and mathematics. He went on to serve as company president—succeeding his uncle Arthur in that role. The lab where Dr. John Dorrance did his work for Campbell. Under his influence, Campbell began to add soup to a food lineup that already featured 200 different products, including pie fillings, ketchup, mustard and salad dressings. But Campbell didn’t sell soup—the product the company is most closely associated with in consumers’ minds today. Condensed soups told by Campbell are of course a...

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