A Staff Report from the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board

Why is Rice-A-Roni called "The San Francisco Treat"?

Dear Straight Dope:

Why is Rice-A-Roni the "San Francisco Treat"? I was recently in San Francisco, and this question popped into my mind. There is nothing about the rice product that makes me think of San Francisco; in fact the only treat that does is Ghiradelli chocolate, so please explain if you can, why Rice-A-Roni is "The San Francisco Treat"?

I'd like to tell you there's an amazing story behind the legend of Rice-a-Roni's slogan, my friend. A tale of adventure, of deception, betrayal, redemption, folly, love, and victory! But, alas, I can't, not really. It's a case of location, location, location. San Francisco, specifically the Mission District, happens to be where the original family-owned pasta company that created Rice-A-Roni had set up shop. I give you this from the Official Rice-A-Roni website (www.ricearoni.com):

"The DeDomenico family all enjoyed an old Armenian dish consisting of rice, vermicelli pasta and chicken broth. The rice and pasta were sauteed in butter before the liquid was added, giving the dish its distinctive taste.

"In 1958, Vince DeDomenico decided to take this recipe and produce it for sale in grocery stores. He placed the rice and pasta in a box, and added a dry seasoning mix in place of the liquid chicken broth. Because this product was made up of half rice and half pasta, he decided to call it RICE-A-RONI®.

"Chicken RICE-A-RONI was first introduced in the Northwestern states in 1958. With it came the first RICE-A-RONI commercial, featuring San Francisco's Cable Cars and the now famous jingle. Created in San Francisco, RICE-A-RONI would soon be known to all as "The San Francisco Treat®!"

"The RICE-A-RONI jingle, The San Francisco Treat® slogan, "Saute and Simmer" and scenic San Francisco became familiar to every household in America in the 60's as the product was introduced through television advertising."

Pretty cut and dried. Now, should I hang around my mailbox waiting for a check from the Golden Grain Company's PR department? Probably not.

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