Rare and Fascinating Historical Photos of Pasta Production From the 1920s to 1950s » Design You Trust


A worker hangs pasta to dry in a factory in Italy. 1932.
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Pasta is an integral part of Italy’s food history. Wherever Italians immigrated they have brought their pasta along, so much so that today it can be considered a staple of international cuisine.

h/t: vintag.es, rarehistoricalphotos

Preparing the dough. 1932.
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Bettmann/Getty Images/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

The first concrete information concerning pasta products in Italy dates from the 13th or 14th century. There is also a legend of Marco Polo importing pasta from China which originated with the Macaroni Journal, published by an association of food industries with the goal of promoting pasta in the United States. Jeffrey Steingarten asserts that Arabs introduced pasta in the Emirate of Sicily in the ninth century, mentioning also that traces of pasta have been found in ancient Greece and that Jane Grigson believed the Marco Polo story to have originated in the 1920s or 1930s in an advertisement for a Canadian spaghetti company.

A chef makes tagliatelle at King Bomba’s, one of the largest Italian shops in Soho, London. 1939.
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Bettmann/Getty Images/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

The modern word “macaroni” derives from the Sicilian term for kneading the dough with energy, as early pasta making was often a laborious, day-long process. How these early dishes were served is not truly known, but many Sicilian pasta recipes still include typically middle eastern ingredients, such as raisins and cinnamon, which may be witness to original, medieval recipes. This early pasta was an ideal staple for Sicily and it easily spread to the mainland since durum wheat thrives in Italy’s climate.

A Russian factory worker handles strands of pasta. Date unknown.
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Bettmann/Getty Images/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

The modern word “macaroni” derives from the Sicilian term for kneading the dough with energy, as early pasta making was often a laborious, day-long process. How these early dishes were served is not truly known, but many Sicilian pasta recipes still include typically middle eastern ingredients, such as raisins and cinnamon, which may be witness to original, medieval recipes. This early pasta was an ideal staple for Sicily and it easily spread to the mainland since durum wheat thrives in Italy’s climate.

Zelda Albano cuts spaghetti into lengths as it emerges from a machine at a pasta factory in Holloway, London. 1955.
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Bettmann/Getty Images/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

By the 1300s dried pasta was very popular for its nutrition and long shelf life, making it ideal for long ship voyages. Pasta made it around the globe during the voyages of discovery a century later. By that time different shapes of pasta have appeared and new technology made pasta easier to make. With these innovations, pasta truly became a part of Italian life.

A worker for Atlantic Macaroni Company hangs spaghetti to dry at a factory in Long Island City, New York. 1943.
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Bettmann/Getty Images/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

Spaghetti hangs in a drain chamber in an Italian pasta factory. Date unknown.
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Bettmann/Getty Images/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

After harvesting the durum wheat to make flour, the fun truly began. 1955.
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Bettmann/Getty Images/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

Men at work in a pasta factory. Date unknown.
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Bettmann/Getty Images/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

Young boys carry strands of pasta to a factory yard for drying. Date unknown.
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Bettmann/Getty Images/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

Drying the pasta. 1929.
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Bettmann/Getty Images/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

Drying the pasta. 1929.
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Pasta strands hung out to dry at a factory in Naples, Italy. 1925.
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Bettmann/Getty Images/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

Pasta in Naples, 1925.
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Bettmann/Getty Images/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

Italian boys showing drying pasta. 1928.
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An Italian factory worker bends spaghetti with a stick. 1932.
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Bettmann/Getty Images/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

Strands of spaghetti dry on racks near the beach in Amalfi, Italy. 1949.
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Bettmann/Getty Images/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

Pasta is hung out to dry in a market. Date unknown.
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Bettmann/Getty Images/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis



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