Contadina Canning

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Main Location

San Jose

1914 - 1920, 1931-?


Hershel California Fruit Products.

Aiello Brothers & Co or Contadina Canning was a San Jose cannery in operation from 1914 to 1920, and later operating possibly under similar ownership after 1931. The company as the first tomato cannery in the Unites States in 1914 in Highland, New York by Carlo Aiello. Because of World War I restrictions, canned tomatoes from Italy had disappeared, and Aiello sought to fill that void. The company moved to California and San Jose in 1917 for the better growing season, but maintained their farm in New York[1].

Aiello Brothers operated a large cannery on Moorpark Ave. in San Jose[2]. A Western Canner and Packer article mentioned that the cannery was operating to capacity on tomato paste, the entire pack being contracted for by Antonio Morici, Chicago importer.[3].

Aiello Brothers sold the cannery to Hershel California Fruit Products in 1920. Contadina disappeared from city directories in that year. The Aiellos continued to serve as officers for Hershel California and worked at the cannery through 1927, but no longer appeared in association by 1930. Antonio Gagni, noted as a cofounder, sold his stake in Contadina Canning Co. in 1936[4].

A new cannery was started in Gilroy in 1931 under the Aiello name, but it's unclear if it was the same family[5].

Contadina was a division of Carnation by 1972[6].


Location Years Address Details
Gilroy 1931 Being built
Highland, New York 1917
New York City[7] None 12 First Street
San Jose, CA 1917 Moorpark and Race Street

Contadina to Hershel

Tracking down when the Aiellos owned Contadina is difficult. The company became Hershel California Fruit Products at some point around 1920. The various companies appeared in city directories under multiple names. Here is the list from San Jose City Directories..

Year Name Principals Address
1916 Contadina not listed
1917 Contadina not listed
1919 Contadina Canning Company Antonio Morici, Antonio Gagni, Frank Aiello Race corner Moorpark
1922 Contadina not listed
1922 Hershel California Fruit Products Aaron Hershel, Antonio Gagni, Frank Aiello Race corner Moorpark
1923 Hershel California Fruit Products Aaron Hershel, Antonio Gagni, Frank Aiello Race corner Moorpark
1927 Hershel California Fruit Products[8] Aaron Hershel general manager
1930 Hershel California Fruit Products Aaron Hershel, general manager

The Aiello Family

Similarly, here is a list of Aiellos in San Jose based on city directories[9]:

Year Name Occupation Address
1917 Joseph Aiello baker 865 Orchard
1918 No Aiellos listed
1919 Carlo Aiello 2nd vice president, Salsina Canning home: 55 page
1919 Frank Aiello Contadina Canning h 142 martha
1919 Joe Aiello Buyer, Salsina Canning 55 page
1920 Giuseppe Aiello laborer 475 chapman
1922 Carlo Aiello 401 h w. san fernando
1922 Carlo Aiello fruit broker r 259 Race
1922 Frank Aiello hershel california fruit products r 259 race
1922 joseph aiello fruit broker 259 Race
1922 Aron Hershel manager, Hershel California Fruit Products res 34 Fremont
1923 Carlo Aiello h 401 w. san fernando
1923 Frank Aiello hershel california fruit products r 259 race
1923 Giuseppe Aiello laborer h 1351 locusts
1923 Joseph Aiello fruit buyer h 259 race
1927 Florence Aiello clerk, Hart and Son 831 Harliss
1927 Frank (Frances) Aiello Hershel California Fruit Products h moorpark av cor race
1927 Jean Stenographer, Hershel California Fruit Products r moorpark for race
1927 Joseph (Conchetta) h 831 harliss
1927 Joseph (Rose) fruit buyer h 296 hanshett
1927 peter f stdt h moorpark cor race
1927 rose mrs ladies furnishings 64 e san fernando
1930 aiello frank (frances) h 998 moorpark
1930 jean m. clerk, Hershel California Fruit Products r 998 moorpark
1930 joe (rose) (Aiello and Aiello) h 1394 hanschett
1930 joseph (concheta) lab 831 harliss
1930 mary 831 harlesss
1930 peter (angeline) aiello and aiello 998 moorpark
1930 rose mrs garden city manufacturing r 1394 hanshett
1930 valentine r 998 moorpark
1930 aiello and aiello (Peter and Joseph) fruit packers 389 North San Pedro St.


  1. Paolo's restaurant history
  2. October 1917 Western Canner and Packer
  3. Unknown issue, Western Canner and Packer
  4. Obituary: John Gagni, 82, scion of cannery family. May 2003 San Jose Mercury News. "Mr. Gagni was the son of Antonio Gagni, a native of Sicily who came to San Jose from Brooklyn, NY in 1916. The elder Gagni was one of the original tomato paste packers and a co-founder of Contadina Canning Co., once located on Moorpark Avenue in San Jose. The Gagni family sold its interest in Contadina in 1936."
  5. January 26, 1931 San Jose Evening News
  6. List of manufacturing businesses in Santa Clara County, Vocational Education memo, 1972.
  7. Canner's Directory
  8. "Packers of contadina pacific star brands tomato paste our specialty"
  9. San Jose city directories,