Totino's First Frozen Products Weren't What You'd Expect

It's strange — but perhaps understandable — that the foodstuffs stereotypically associated with America include a range of unhealthy, greasy beasts. From hamburgers and soda to fries and ice cream, the U.S is portrayed as being a country that obsesses over food bursting with calories.

It is no surprise, then, that Reader's Digest cites America's favorite food as being deep-fried pizza oozing with fatty, delicious cheese. In fact, the love of stuffed crusts and puddles of tomatoes probably explains the success of Totino's expansive collection of pizza products, including Party Pizzas, Pizza Stuffers, and Pizza Rolls (via Totino's).

Totino's started life as a single pizzeria in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1951, founded by Rose and Jim Totino, who served up as many as 400 to 500 pizzas every day (via Taste of General Mills). But, despite its reputation for innovative frozen pizza designs, Totino's has not always focused its attention solely on pizza.

Totino's used to make frozen pasta before it switched to pizza

Along with creating pizzas, Rose Totino had always been an expert at making various pasta dishes, including lasagne and spaghetti (via MinnPost). Following the huge success of their pizza restaurant, Rose and Jim Totino established Totino's Finer Foods in 1962, focusing their efforts on frozen pasta meals rather than pizzas — a particularly curious decision given their expertise and a booming pizza market (via Qrius).

Sadly (although fairly unsurprisingly), the bold move did not pay off. It was a tough process making the frozen pasta recipes and production was severely hampered by expensive ingredients and slow cooking methods. However, the biggest issue was that the pasta products were of a noticeably poor quality that failed to entice customers (via Mental Floss).

The experiment cost the Totinio's a great deal — total losses amounted to $150,000. Thankfully, however, Jim intervened with an idea to use quality ingredients and their exclusive tomato sauce, transitioning Totino's to become the frozen pizza giant that it is today (via MinnPost).