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January 16, 2008

Vincent Grupposo, Creator of Kozy Shack Rice Pudding Empire, is Dead at 67


He died at his home in East Hampton, New York on December 29, 2007.

Dennis Hevesi's January 11, 2007 New York Times obituary related a tale of serendipity.

Long story short: Grupposo, while making his rounds in Brooklyn in the mid-1960s as an Arnold Bread Company delivery man, happened on the Cozy (with a C) Shack delicatessen on Seneca Avenue, tasted its creamy rice pudding, and took it from there.

Here's the Times obituary.

    Vincent Gruppuso, 67, Seller of Pudding Snacks, Dies

    Vincent Gruppuso, the founder of Kozy Shack Enterprises, a company in Hicksville, Long Island, that sells millions of four-ounce cups of pudding, particularly rice pudding, at supermarkets in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe, died Dec. 29 at his home in East Hampton, N.Y. He was 67.

    The cause was complications of diabetes, said his son-in-law Michael Caridi.

    Mr. Gruppuso was a bread delivery man making his rounds in Brooklyn in the mid-1960s when he took a break at one of his stops, the Cozy (with a C) Shack delicatessen on Seneca Avenue and tasted its creamy rice pudding. Soon after, he began selling trays of the pudding at his other stops.

    In 1967, he bought the recipe and set up a small factory in Ridgewood, Queens.

    Kozy Shack now has more than 400 employees at three plants, in Hicksville, N.Y., Turlock, Calif., and in Lough Egish, Ireland. Last year, the company had revenue of approximately $140 million, selling more than 115 million four-ounce cups and 22-ounce containers of puddings and pastries.

    Born in Brooklyn on Oct. 25, 1940, Mr. Gruppuso was one of three children of Joseph and Mazie Ditta Gruppuso. His father worked in construction and his mother was a seamstress.

    Mr. Gruppuso’s marriage to the former Virginia Pantaleo ended in divorce. He is survived by three daughters, Joanne Caridi and Diana Boland, both of Staten Island, and Lisa Salvo of Marlboro, N.J.; a sister, Libby Gruppuso of Ithaca, N.Y.; a brother, Frank, of Commack, N.Y.; and five grandchildren.

    Mr. Gruppuso served as an aerial photographer in the Navy in the late 1950s, then returned to Brooklyn. He worked at several jobs before acquiring his truck route, for the Arnold Bread company, and taking his first taste of that delicatessen pudding.

    In 2006, the Dining section of The New York Times named Kozy Shack rice pudding on a list of “Grocery Gems,” and said, “Rice pudding, like baked beans, has slipped out of the culinary spotlight, but this version makes up in flavor what it lacks in glamour.”


For what it's worth, the cinnamon raisin variation might be even better.

I have a very hard time deciding which one to buy — the original or the tricked-out raisin.

More often than not I take the fork (spoon?) in the road and buy both.

But perhaps you're not in a place where Kozy Shack's available.

Not to worry — that's why you have me.

$3.50 for 22 oz.

More on rice pudding here.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to run down to Kroger for a sec....

January 16, 2008 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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The only thing Kozy shack is missing is the RICE PUDDING .COM domain .It is for sale if they would like to buy it this would be a no brainer for the company .I have a small rice pudding business in northeast Pa. and after 20 years of business I am ready to sell the domain.

Posted by: Lou Selig | Nov 5, 2008 8:40:44 PM

I'd have to go with the cinnamon & raisin "old world" version.

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Jan 16, 2008 5:54:13 PM

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