Rose Totino’s Pizza and the Patent that Made it Possible, 1979
Frozen pizza had always suffered from “cardboard” crust syndrome. Then Minneapolis’s Rose Totino came to the rescue. On October 9, 1979, Totino patented her new invention—the “Crisp Crust” pizza crust, which revolutionized the frozen pizza industry. She and her husband, Jim, had been selling frozen pizzas since 1962 and had sold their company, Totino’s Finer Foods, to Pillsbury in 1975. (In the process she became Pillsbury’s first female vice president.) Rose Totino kept tinkering with her recipe even after the sale to Pillsbury. The result was the “Crisp Crust,” a “delamination resistant fried dough product” that was granted U.S. Patent Number 4,170,659. The new crust helped make Totino’s “Party Pizza” the best-selling frozen pizza in the United States.