On Being Productive

This past Thanksgiving, Jeno Paulucci died at the age of 93. His father worked in the iron mines of Minnesota. Jeno, however, became a grocer and eventually pioneered the canned food industry. He decided to incorporate the bean sprouts he knew so well into chow mein, forming the company Chun King. Prior to that, as he told the New York Times in 1955, “The food industry was missing the boat, allowing the restaurants to handle all the take-home business.”

In a way, Paulucci was not only a canned-food innovator, he was also a popularizer of Chinese-American fare (when was the last time you had chop suey or egg foo young?). In 1966, he sold Chun King to R.J. Reynolds for $66 million. Paulucci then converted his egg roll machines into pizza roll machines, selling Jeno’s Inc. to Pillsbury in 1985 for $135 million.Paulucci thrived in a different world than ours. We frown on the very notion of frozen pizza rolls and egg rolls, unless they are somehow organic, gluten free, free of trans-fats, and benefit the rainforest.

Last Tuesday I attended the interment of actor Jackie Cooper in Arlington National Cemetery. Cooper served in the Navy during World War II and remained involved through the reserves until the 1980s. I wrote about the ceremony at weeklystandard.com. And while I mention his big break as a Little Rascal and his later stints as Perry White in the Superman movies and as a Columbia Screen Gems executive, readers chimed in to remind me of his starring roles in Hennesey and The People’s Choice.

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