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The birth of Rice-A-Roni

The birth of Rice-A-Roni began with a friendship between a Canadian immigrant and a survivor of the Armenian genocide. Soon after, an Italian family made "the San Francisco treat" into a popular side dish.

In this story, Bay Area production team The Kitchen Sisters track down the original pilaf recipe that started it all.

TED CAPTANIAN: When I was young, we'd see these commercials for Rice-A-Roni. Every time we'd hear that jingle, my father would say, "You know, your grandmother gave a rice recipe to the people who started that company." So every time you hear it, you can think of your grandmother. To be honest, we kind of thought, "Could that possibly be true?"

This story was produced by The Kitchen Sisters, Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, as part of their Hidden Kitchens radio series.


The Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva) are producers of the duPont-Columbia Award-winning, NPR series, Hidden Kitchens, and two Peabody Award-winning NPR series, Lost & Found Sound and The Sonic Memorial Project. Hidden Kitchens, heard on Morning Edition, explores the world of secret, unexpected, below-the-radar cooking across America—how communities come together through food. The series inspired Hidden Kitchens: Stories, Recipes, and More from NPR's The Kitchen Sisters, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year that was also nominated for a James Beard Award for Best Writing on Food. The Hidden Kitchens audio book, narrated by Academy Award winner, Frances McDormand, received a 2006 Audie Award.