1878 Rinoldi pasta founded in Melbourne

Rinoldi brochure c.1930s. Image - Ebay

It’s the oldest pasta manufacturer in Australia and still a family company. But it’s not Italian. Rinoldi was founded by an Englishman, Thomas Carter Reynolds. Reynolds was born in Cornwall and arrived in Australia in 1849 as an eight-year-old. He grew up in Daylesford on the Victorian goldfields and became an auctioneer and commission agent, amassing a considerable fortune investing in the mining industry. According to his obituary, it was when his mining shares depreciated that Reynolds decided to move into the pasta industry. With an eye to the immigrant market, he Italianised his name to Rinoldi and established his first Melbourne factory in Gertrude Street, Windsor. According to the company website, this was in 1878 (although the dates in the obituary suggest it may have been 1887).

It may be that Reyolds was alive to the possibilities for pasta – then generally known as macaroni – through his associations in the Daylesford area. Beginning with the gold rushes of the 1850s, the region attracted many Italian migrants and, in Hepburn Springs, the Lucini brothers had established what was likely Australia’s first pasta factory. But while the Lucini’s factory ceased operations in the 1930s, Reynolds’s brand endured. From the start, he was quality conscious, searching Australia for the appropriate hard wheats to make his products. In 1895, The Advertiser in Adelaide reported that he had sent a letter to the general secretary of the South Australian Agricultural Bureau asking whether he could procure supplies of “flinty wheats”. Around 1910, the operation moved to a larger factory in Aberdeen Street, East Prahran.

Thomas Reyolds died in 1912 but the firm remained in family hands. Looking beyond the Italian market, in the 1920s they advertised their Rinoldi “Crown” brand macaroni as “First aid to every housewife”. Other advertisements suggested marmalade vermicelli pudding or peaches and macaroni.  And even macaroni for breakfast – especially during Lent.

Rinoldi’s staple products of the era were vermicelli, macaroni and spaghetti. A  full-page advertisement in the Adelaide News in 1930 trumpeted that all products were “wholly Australian”. It offered some serving suggestions, including the instructions for making vermicelli souffle, sweet spaghetti balls,  baked spaghetti and the astounding curried spaghetti:

Heat small lump of butter, chop up an onion, apple, and tomato, and fry. Sprinkle in half tablespoonful curry power, 1 tablespoonful flour, and salt to taste. Pour in ½ pint milk and stir till boiling. Add 1 tablespoonful chutney, simmer 20 minutes. Mix with cooked spaghetti and serve hot.

In 1945, Rinoldi became a limited company, consolidating its position in the post-WWII era and supplying pasta products to Victoria’s Bonegilla migrant camp. In 1958, the Reynolds family sold their business to one of their employees, Neville Quayle, a food chemist. The company is still run by the Quayle family with Neville’s son Bill as CEO (as of 2024). It has vastly expanded its range and brand holdings, purchasing the Nanda and Vetta pasta brands in 2006 and acquiring interests in biscuit-making, stock feed and flour milling.

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