Vol. 1, Issue 25, November 4, 2003
Boyardi Crime Family Still Going Strong
In New York, the Genovese, Bonanno, Gambino, Colombo and Lucchese crime families have become famous over the past seventy years. The media, and law enforcement agencies have created for them such notoriety that their names have adopted almost legendary status for New Yorkers. However, other families, sometimes just as powerful have been quietly operating out of the limelight for decades, according to a new book by Gaston Marchese.
This is a story of the Boyardi crime family, which has, according to Marchese, has controlled the Pennsylvania underworld since the days of prohibition.
"What is unusual in this case, and somewhat ironic, is the fact that the Boyardi family has maintained such a high public profile," said Marchese.
The Boyardi family is behind the Chef Boyardee brand of canned pasta goods, which has been around since the 1950s.
"Actually, the Chef Boyardee brand came about by accident," Marchese explained. "It happened when federal marshals attempted to serve a warrant on Hector Boyardi, the original don of the family."
According to the story, when the marshals challenged Boyardi to explain the nature of the illicit whisky factory they had charged, he asserted that it was actually an Italian food factory. Throwing some stale leftover pasta into some empty paint cans and banging the lids shut with a bottle, Hector Boyardi invented the Chef Boyardee product line in a single inspired swoop.
The Boyardi crime family then expanded the Chef Boyardee business in order to more effectively cover for its various operations, according to Marchese.
"There was a period of time in the early 1980's when the labels on the cans were all coated with cocaine," he explained. "However, this venture was something of a financial disaster since they could not stop people from buying the cans off the grocery store shelves at 99 cents apiece."
International Home Foods, the parent company of Chef Boyardee, has contested Marchese's analysis of the Chef Boyardee history as an "urban legend." However, the company declined to comment further for this story, or to provide free samples of its tasty products, although this reporter asked very politely.
Hector Boyardi died in 1985, but his family lives on as one of the most dangerous, and lowest profile, crime organizations extant.
"For me, it makes shopping at the grocery store a menacing experience," Marchese added. "The violence this family has used to maintain its position, the gunfire and bloodshed that's punctuated its history... It's a real life spaghetti-o western."