Robert E. Rich Sr. (July 7, 1913 – February 15, 2006) was a food-processing pioneer and executive. During World War II, he invented the first non-dairy whipped topping made from soybeans that could be frozen.
Born in Buffalo, New York, he founded Rich Products in 1945, which had sales of $2.5 billion on more than 2,300 products in 2005, the year before he died at age 92 in Palm Beach, Florida. His son, Robert Jr., inherited the company and is the owner of the Buffalo Bisons minor league baseball team.
Rich attended Bennett High School in Buffalo, where his father owned an ice cream plant. He received his undergraduate education from the University at Buffalo, where he was captain of both football and wrestling. He was also a member of Alpha Kappa Psi and Bisonhead, an all-male secret society on campus. He was later inducted into the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York Athletic Hall of Fame.
After borrowing money from his father, he started the Wilbur Dairy Company (later renamed the Jones-Rich Milk Company) in 1935. The success of his cream substitute brought a series of lawsuits from the dairy industry in an effort to stop distribution of his product. Rich prevailed in every case. At his death, he was one of the wealthiest people in the world, reportedly worth $2 billion, and his company was the largest family-owned food products company in America.
Sources and external links
- Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame