Alphabet pasta
Alphabet pasta
Alphabet soup

Alphabet pasta, also referred to as alfabeto and alphabetti spaghetti in the UK,[1] is a pasta that has been mechanically cut or pressed into the letters of the alphabet. It is often served in an alphabet soup, sold in a can of condensed broth. Another variation, Alphagetti, consists of letter-shaped pasta in a marinara or spaghetti sauce.

It is not clear who invented alphabet soup, when or why. As early as 1877, Paris grocers sold "...small bits of macaroni, for use in soup, which are stamped with... the letters of the alphabet."[2] and Paris restaurants served "...delicious soups made of macaroni or vermicelli cut up into the shape of letters of the alphabet..."[3] In 1883, The Chicago Herald Cooking School cookbook provided a recipe for soup calling for a small pasta such as "alphabet pastes of the same material as macaroni stamped in letters".[4] In January 1900 it was on the menu at New York City's Au Lion d'Or.[4] In 1908, Wilbur Wright was served alphabet soup in Le Mans, France.[5]

Also unclear is whether the soup or the linguistic term for an overabundance of acronyms or abbreviations came first; food historian Janet Clarkson notes that "the first reference I have found so far to the metaphorical alphabet soup also occurs in 1883, in a quotation by the originator of Life magazine, John Ames Mitchell, referring to teaching his son the alphabet soup (the ABCs) of business."[4]

One common American brand of condensed-style alphabet soup is the Campbell's brand. This soup, like its competitors, is marketed towards parents for its educational value.[6]

A similar product, Alphabetti Spaghetti, was sold by the H. J. Heinz Company for 60 years before being discontinued in 1990. Like Campbell's alphabet soup, it contains alphabet pasta canned in tomato sauce. It was later reintroduced by Heinz in 2005.[7]

See also


  1. ^ "A history of Alphabetti Spaghetti".
  2. ^ Sleicher, John Albert (1877). "Leslie's".
  3. ^ Robinson, William Stevens (1877). ""Warrington" Pen-portraits: A Collection of Personal and Political Reminiscences from 1848 to 1876 : From the Writings of William S. Robinson, with Memoir, and Extracts from Diary and Letters Never Before Published".
  4. ^ a b c Clarkson, Janet (2010). Soup : a global history. London: Reaktion. pp. 119–120. ISBN 978-1-86189-774-9. OCLC 642290114.
  5. ^ McCullough, David (2015). The Wright Brothers. Simon Schuster. p. 164. ISBN 978-1476728759.
  6. ^ Wolf, Jackie (2002). Campbell's Alphabet Soup Book (illustrated ed.). Picture Me Press. ISBN 978-1571516398. Retrieved 2015-03-25.
  7. ^ "Dish that's write on", Daily Record, 7 April 2005