|The oldest recorded history of mankind
appeared in caves 5500 years ago. In those caves were drawings of
humans, animals, birds and symbols. One of these symbols was a basket
being carried by a human being. Baskets were considered very important
because they were used to carry food. Weavers made baskets and created
the first gift giving container. Now, we fast forward to 1700 hundreds.
In the 1780's, European royalty would
send baskets, hampers, and other foods and wines to friends and
business associates within their circle of friends. The English
hamper is the perfect example for Christmas greetings.
|In the 1890's, when steamships traveled
the Atlantic to the Continent, the very wealthy would send off bon
voyage gifts to the piers in New York Harbor. The staterooms were
very, very small so the basketeers in New York City would create very
thin, but very tall gifts so they would not take up needed space in
the small staterooms. Their bon voyage gifts were used as snacking
foods on the long overseas trips. The baskets were wrapped in a fabric
netting at the turn-of-the-century.
|Cellophane is invented and it revolutionizes
the gift basket business.
|The world's first specialty food
magazine was born in Chicago. The name of the magazine was Telefood.
The editor decided to copy FTD and telegraph food baskets across the
country by telegraph.
|A Frenchman invented a shrinkable poultry
bag for chickens. They got the film to shrink by dipping it in 400
degree boiling water. The French women would have nothing to do with
it. It was not fresh. It was wrapped in plastic.
|The Frenchman came to America
and brought his new invention. It did not fly for almost 12 years.
The reason was simple. Saran wrap was the packaging film of choice.
Plus, there were no sealers on the market in 1950 that would seal
|The first International Fancy Food Show
is held in New York at the Astor Hotel.
|Another few years would pass before shrink
film would again make itself known to the industry.
|Harry and David began to put shrink film
on their mail order baskets with a high temperature heat gun.
|Tom Catanese was a retail florist,
so he knew what you go through every day: retail is detail. He
worked eight days a week. He decided he did not want to do this
the rest of his life.
his first International Fancy Food Show on the second floor of
the old New York City Coliseum. The product that was introduced
that year was chocolate covered ants. There were only 125 exhibitors
at that time. He recalled saying, "this is where I want to be
30 years from now. I have to find a product that I can sell to
the Fancy Food Retailers of America".
|Tom saw a fruit basket demo
that was using shrink film to wrap gifts. It was amazing. He purchased
a roll and a heat gun for our shop. It was like magic!
He then realized that no one was selling
to the small retailer on a national basis, so He said "Tom Catanese
will appoint himself to that position." And, that's how he got
into the Gift Basket and Shrink Packaging Business.
exhibited at his first Philadelphia National Candy Show at the
old Sheraton Hotel in Philadelphia. There were only 77 exhibitors
then. Since then he has exhibited at 250+ National Food, Confection
& Gift Shows.
Catanese introduces a little
black handheld sealer (crimper) to the industry. He found a
little black handheld sealer that was made in Holland. It was
only used for sealing poly bags. He purchased one and through
trial and error, He made this little sealer do things it was
not supposed to do. Others call it a little black crimper. He
introduced this little black crimper to the industry in 1969.
|He introduced the MagicWands to the
industry. These 2 bag making devices are the backbone of the gift
basket industry today because of their versatility. They revolutionized
the gift basket industry. Florist magazine presented a 3-page
story on Tom Catanese and shrink film for the florist, gift and
| Tom tried to
get into the International Fancy Food Show. Back then, it was
a very tight group. "Not this year, they said." Again, he presented
an application for membership and was refused.