So much culinary genius in America has been born from laziness—Cheez Whiz, Cup Noodles, Hot Pockets. Canned food in general is a staple in a number of kitchens, including SpaghettiOs!
Donald Goerke—or the “Daddy-O of SpaghettiOs”—invented this nonperishable cross between macaroni and cheese and spaghetti al pomodoro as a response to messy eaters. He spent a year studying pasta shapes that people could eat without slurping down or making a mess until finally settling on pre-cooked pasta rings. (Selling canned pasta was a concept first introduced by Ronald Miller for Franco-American, producer of SpaghettiOs.)
Cans of plain, meatball and franks SpaghettiOs were boldly sold without test marketing. Instead, it was manufactured and subsequently advertised with the tag line, “The neat round spaghetti you can eat with a spoon,” making it a natural fit for hungry children who’d rather shovel pasta into their mouths than sit down to a bowl of spaghetti.
SpaghettiO commercials in the ‘80s and ‘90s spoke directly to these children, specifically the accident prone set who had a blast with the canned food’s pervasive slogan: “Uh-oh SpaghettiO!” Popular commercials in the 1990s featured hungry kids sitting to a bowl of SpaghettiOs that, while easy to eat with a spoon, were still exceptionally easy to spill or very likely to wind up in your dog’s mouth.
Daddy-O Goerke passed away in 2010, just in time for Campbell Soup Company’s nutritional makeover of the product so that it contains at least two positive nutrients (think cheese and carbohydrates) and full serving of vegetables (tomato sauce). Just be careful not to spill it.