One of the forerunners of sweet bread in the country gave his surname to the product and managed to impose his brand on the Argentine market
Much of the Argentine traditions and customs We owe them to the different migratory groups that came to the country since the mid-nineteenth century. Words, expressions, music, clothes, festivities: much has been built between Creoles and immigrants.
Food was an area in which the communities had great influence.
This is the case of sweet breadAn Italian tradition that arrived at the Argentine tables towards the end of the 19th century and that even today, more than a hundred years later, we continue to enjoy. One of the precursors of this custom gave his surname to the product and managed to impose his brand on the Argentine market.
Leone Antonio Marcolla was born in April 1881 in an Austrian town called Vigo di Ton, which would later belong to the Italian province of Trento.
He arrived in Argentina with his parents Gregorio Marcolla and Dominga Paris, as well as some of his seven siblings. Then they returned to Europe, but in 1895 they settled again in Buenos Aires, more precisely in Ensenada, in the jurisdiction of La Plata.
In Buenos Aires, Leone went to his cousin José Bettin, a refined pastry chef, owner of a Cuyo confectionery in the center of the city. It was located in the cut of the Arts (today Pasaje Carabelas).
The image of the place impressed León: a spacious room with polished wood shelves, glass displays, glass jars. The intense aroma of the pastry made him fall in love. Leone told his cousin that he wanted to stay there. Betín let him work and live in the back room, where young Marcolla slept amidst bags and sacks of flour.
In 1905, Bettin was widowed and in mid-1907 she decided to return to Italy. He left the confectionery in Leone’s hands by giving him the commercial background of your venture. The responsibility was capital, but Marcolla understood it as a challenge. He felt the need to repay the trust his cousin had placed in him and went about the business as if it were his own.
The confectionery moved a few blocks away. The new premises served in Libertad and Corrientes. The time has come to establish a foothold in personal life. On November 12, 1910, Leone Marcolla (29 years old) traveled to Morón to marry Teresa Farinati (22).
Leone was left in charge of his cousin’s confectionery, which created a challenge for him
The panettone, door to door
Then the change came. When the Christmas season approached, Leone thought that the sweet bread that they made – copying an ancient tradition started in Milan – could reach a wider audience if, instead of waiting for customers, they went out to sell it. For this he assembled a small group of vendors with wicker baskets that carried the Panettone door to door. The result was higher than expected: peddling He made a prolific sum that the pastry chef’s apprentice kept to give to his cousin when he returned.
When Bettin returned, Marcolla was willing to give her back the business with the business advantages of her management. However, his cousin considered it fair that León kept the money obtained from those sales. The young Marcolla accepted and decided to invest his capital in the business, to join as a partner in the bakery.
With this new responsibility and, thanks to the experience he had accumulated, he decided to move to Ensenada and open your own bakery. In the La Plata area, the surname Marcolla it started to be synonym of sweet bread.
In 1915, the year Mariano Marcolla was born, the fourth son of the family, Bettin and Leone bought the first important oven for making Christmas bread. It should be noted that until that moment sweet bread was not a mass product, but rather a luxury one, and it was sold in exclusive houses. Also that year, Mariano was born, the only one of the four children who in the future would be involved in the father’s entrepreneurship.
Panettone production grew and established Marcolla as a benchmark for this Christmas product in the market.
Leone thought that the sweet bread they made could reach a larger audience if they went out to sell it
Consolidation in the market
Around 1946, Mariano, who had studied Fine Arts, joined the company. He was married to Vicenta Laparra, who accompanied him in administrative tasks. Thus, although the company had grown, it was still familiar, since everyone works there.
Some took care of the raw material, others with the essences, others with the packaging. Everyone contributed their work. By then, growth forced Marcolla to diversify the product and began to produce three qualities of sweet bread: Extra, Special and Common.
When the inevitable moment of the generational transfer arrived and Mariano took over the firm, he decided to do two things that his father had never wanted. First, he registered the trademark. Second, it invested in advertising. Those close to him say that León Marcolla was so reluctant to advertise his product that, when the batch of announcements sounded on the radios, they had to turn it off to prevent “Nono León” from beginning to complain.
The brand finished consolidating between 1947 and 1948 when, both unions and social works, incorporated the panettone to their Christmas box. The Eva Perón Foundation hired them as suppliers of the sweet bread that was delivered in the end-of-the-year gift boxes. This Foundation came to buy 280,000 kilos from them. In addition, Marcolla had become the flagship product of the Harrod’s store.
Although Mariano continued to run the company with entrepreneurial discipline, his passion for art was not lost. In 1979, Marcolla assumed responsibility as sponsor of the work of Marta Minujín Obelisco de Pan Dulce, for which the company contributed the sweet bread that was later donated.
Marcolla had an incessant growth throughout its history. A company with more than one hundred years, whose artisan origins they were surpassed with effort, innovation and creativity, until achieving the leadership in the market. The slogan of the firm that Don León made grow out of nowhere remains in force. Today, Marcolla, is still “the surname of sweet bread.”