The history of the Barilla pasta company began in 1877, when Pietro Barilla opened a bread and pasta shop in Parma, Italy. As of 2015, the privately owned company, run by a fourth generation of the Barilla family, is the leading pasta maker in the world.
Barilla opened his first factory in 1910, using an innovative oven to produce tons of bread and pasta every day. In 1936, the company introduced new technology that combined the functions of a mixer, kneader and press in one machine.
In the 1950s, Barilla introduced new cardboard packaging and closed the company’s fresh bread bakery. The company expanded in the 1960s, with a new factory producing packaged breadsticks and crackers. Barilla continued to grow in the 1990s, acquiring several new companies, including Misko, the leading Greek pasta brand, and Wasa, the top band of crispbread in northern Europe.
In 1998, Barilla opened its first factory in the United States, in Ames, Iowa. It opened a second pasta plant in Avon, New York, in 2007.
In 2013, Barilla faced global criticism and boycotts, after the chairman said he would never feature a homosexual couple in a commercial. The company responded to the backlash by giving benefits to gay and transgender employees, introducing diversity training and featuring a lesbian couple on its website.