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The Equine Catalyst: How a Horse Drove Progresso’s Initial Success

The Importance of a Horse in Progresso’s Early Success

Progresso Foods, a renowned brand in the food industry, owes its early success to a rather unexpected and humble companion – a horse. The story of Giuseppe Uddo, one of the founders of Progresso Foods, exemplifies the American dream and highlights the critical role a horse played in his entrepreneurial journey.

From humble beginnings to prosperity

Giuseppe Uddo was born and raised in Salemi, a small village in Sicily, Italy. Growing up in a financially challenged environment, Uddo was forced to drop out of school at the tender age of nine to help support his family. It was during this time that he embarked on a unique venture – selling olives and cheese from a horse-drawn cart in Sicilian villages.
Uddo’s encounter with a horse marked the turning point in his life and laid the foundation for his future success. His dedication and entrepreneurial spirit led him to meet Eleanora Taormina, the daughter of a grocer. The couple eventually immigrated to New Orleans, where Uddo worked diligently to make ends meet.

A chance meeting

In 1909, fate intervened in Uddo’s life when his employers went bankrupt. It was during this difficult time that he met Jacob Cusimano, the owner of a macaroni factory. This meeting turned out to be serendipitous, as Cusimano offered Uddo the opportunity to start his own business and provided him with a loan to purchase goods.
Emboldened by this windfall, Uddo decided to start his own business focused on selling imported Italian food staples such as olives and tomato paste. Recognizing the demand for these ingredients among Italian immigrants, Uddo saw a promising market for his products. However, he faced a logistical challenge: how to efficiently transport these goods throughout the city.

A Trusted Companion

Uddo’s solution came in the form of a horse named Sal, which he purchased from his wife’s cousins. With Sal’s help, Uddo began a journey that would eventually lead to the birth of Progresso. The horse became an integral part of Uddo’s operations, helping to transport goods and facilitate the growth of his business.
While Progresso would later move to trucks as the company expanded, the pivotal role Sal played in its early success cannot be understated. Uddo’s son even proclaimed, “The horse started the business,” underscoring the profound impact Sal had on Progresso’s origins.

The Progresso Foods Legacy

Today, Progresso Foods is a testament to the vision and determination of Giuseppe Uddo. What began as a humble business built on the back of a horse has grown into a thriving food brand known for its quality products such as the beloved classic minestrone soup.
Uddo’s story serves as an inspiration, illustrating the power of ingenuity, adaptability and seizing opportunities. The story of a horse’s role in Progresso’s early success is a reminder that sometimes the most unexpected allies can pave the way for remarkable achievements.
Finally, the partnership between Giuseppe Uddo and his trusty horse, Sal, exemplifies the symbiotic relationship between human ingenuity and animal companionship. Their story is a testament to the importance of embracing unexpected opportunities and the transformative power of determination in the pursuit of success.


How did a horse contribute to Progresso’s early success?

A horse played an important role in Progresso’s early success, helping to transport goods and efficiently distribute imported Italian staples such as olives and tomato paste.

Why did Giuseppe Uddo choose a horse for transportation?

Giuseppe Uddo initially relied on a horse because it was a practical and cost-effective solution for transporting goods around the city in the early stages of his business. At that time, horses were commonly used for transportation.

How did the horse named Sal influence the growth of Progresso?

Sal, the horse purchased by Giuseppe Uddo, played a critical role in the expansion of Progresso. Sal facilitated the efficient movement of goods and allowed Uddo to meet the growing demand for imported Italian foods, contributing to the company’s early success.

Did Progresso continue to use horses as the company grew?

As Progresso experienced growth and expanded its operations, the company eventually transitioned from using horses to trucks for transportation. While horses were instrumental in the early stages, the company’s evolving needs necessitated the adoption of more modern transportation methods.

What other factors besides the horse have contributed to Progresso’s success?

Progresso’s success can be attributed to several factors, including Giuseppe Uddo’s entrepreneurial spirit, his deep understanding of the Italian food market, the high demand among Italian immigrants for imported Italian food staples, and the quality of Progresso’s products, such as its famous minestrone soup.

How does the story of Progresso’s early success with a horse inspire entrepreneurs?

The story of Progresso’s initial success with a horse serves as a source of inspiration for entrepreneurs, highlighting the importance of resourcefulness, seizing opportunities and embracing unconventional solutions. It shows how even humble beginnings and unexpected allies can lay the foundation for remarkable achievements.

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