John Thompson Dorrance aka John Dorrance III

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John Thompson Dorrance

Birthplace: Bristol, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, United States
Death: September 21, 1930 (56)
Cinnaminson, Burlington County, New Jersey, United States
Place of Burial: Bala Cynwyd, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Dorrance, Jr. and Eleanor Gillingham Thompson
Husband of Ethel B. Dorrance
Father of Elinor Winifred Hill; Ethel Mallinckrodt Colket; Margaret Winifred "Peggy" Dorrance; Charlotte Kelsey Wright and John Thompson Dorrance, Jr.
Brother of Arthur Calbraith Dorrance and G. Morris Dorrance

Managed by: Private User
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About John Thompson Dorrance aka John Dorrance III

John Thompson Dorrance (November 11, 1873 – September 21, 1930) was an American chemist who discovered a method to create condensed soup and served as president of the Campbell Soup Company from 1914 to 1930.


Born in Bristol, Pennsylvania, he earned a Bachelor of Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Göttingen in Germany. A nephew of the general manager of the Joseph Campbell Preserve Company, he went to work there in 1897 and invented condensed soup.

Dorrance went on to become the president of Campbell Soup Company from 1914 to 1930, eventually buying out the Campbell family. He turned the business into one of America's great, and longest-lasting, brands. He was succeeded by his brother, Arthur Dorrance. In 1906 he married Ethel Mallinckrot, with whom he had five children.


Dorrance died on September 21, 1930 of heart disease at his home in Cinnaminson Township, New Jersey. He was buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. His estate in Radnor Township, Pennsylvania is now the home of Cabrini College.

Following Dorrance's death, there was significant litigation over his domicile for purposes of estate and inheritance tax. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held that he was domiciled in Pennsylvania, and the Supreme Court of New Jersey held that he was domiciled in New Jersey, and his estate was required to pay death tax to both states. The estate sought relief in the United States Supreme Court, but the request for review was denied.


In 2012, Dorrance was elected into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

Father: John Dorrance Mother: Eleanor Gillingham Thompson ("Elvira") Brother: Arthur Calbraith Dorrance (Campbell executive) Wife: Ethel Mallinckrot Dorrance (m. 1906) Son: John T. Dorrance, Jr. (Campbell executive, b. 1919, d. 1989) Daughter: Elinor Dorrance Hill Ingersoll (Campbell executive, b. 1907) Daughter: Ethel Campbell (b. 1909) Daughter: Charlotte Campbell (b. 1911) Daughter: Margaret Dorrance Strawbridge (b. 1915, d. 1953)

• "In 1897, a major milestone occurred when Arthur Dorrance, the general manager of the company, reluctantly hired his 24-year-old nephew to join the company. Dr. John T. Dorrance, a chemist who had trained in Europe, was so determined to join Campbell that he agreed to pay for laboratory equipment out of his own pocket and accept a token salary of just $7.50 per week. In 1897, Dr John T Torrance discovered a method to create condensed soup."


Campbell Soup Company began in Camden, New Jersey, in 1869 as a canning and preserving business founded by icebox maker Abram Anderson and fruit merchant Joseph Campbell. Anderson left in 1876 and Arthur Dorrance took his place. The Dorrance family assumed control after Campbell retired in 1894.

Arthur's nephew, John Dorrance, joined Campbell in 1897. The young chemist soon found a way to condense soup by eliminating most of its water. Without the heavy bulk of water-filled cans, distribution was cheaper; Campbell products quickly spread.

In 1904 the firm introduced the Campbell Kids characters. Entering the California market in 1911, Campbell became one of the first US companies to achieve national distribution of a food brand. It bought Franco-American, the first American soup maker, in 1915.

The company's ubiquity in American kitchens made its soup can an American icon (consider Andy Warhol's celebrated 1960 print) and brought great wealth to the Dorrance family.

With a reputation for conservative management, Campbell began to diversify, acquiring V8 juice (1948), Swanson (1955), Pepperidge Farm (1961), Godiva Chocolatier (33% in 1966, full ownership in 1974), Vlasic pickles (1978), and Mrs. Paul's seafood (1982). It introduced Prego spaghetti sauce and LeMenu frozen dinners in the early 1980s.

Much of Campbell's sales growth in the 1990s came not from unit sales but from increasing its prices. In 1993 it took a $300 million restructuring charge, and over the next two years it sold poor performers at home and abroad. John Sr.'s grandson, Bennett Dorrance, took up the role of vice chairman in 1993, becoming the first family member to take a senior executive position in 10 years.

Two years later Campbell paid $1.1 billion for Pace Foods (picante sauce) and acquired Fresh Start Bakeries (buns and muffins for McDonald's) and Homepride (popular cooking sauce in the UK).

As part of its international expansion, in 1996 the firm acquired Erasco, a top German soup maker, and Cheong Chan, a food manufacturer in Malaysia. However, back at home it sold Mrs. Paul's. In 1997 Campbell sold its Marie's salad dressing operations and bought Groupe Danone's Liebig (France's leading wet-soup brand). Also that year Dale Morrison, a relative newcomer to the firm, succeeded David Johnson as president and CEO. To reduce costs and focus on other core segments, in 1998 Campbell spun off Swanson frozen foods and Vlasic pickles into Vlasic Foods International. (Vlasic later filed bankruptcy and was snapped up in a leveraged buyout.) In 1999 Campbell redesigned its soup can labels, altering an American icon.

Morrison resigned abruptly as president and CEO in 2000; Johnson returned to the helm during the search for a permanent chief. In early 2001 Douglas Conant, previously of Nabisco Foods, joined Campbell as president and CEO. A fresh plan was introduced to spend up to $600 million on marketing, product development, and quality upgrades (at the expense of shareholder dividends). In 2001 Campbell also bought the Batchelors, Royco, and Heisse Tasse brands of soup, as well as the OXO brand of stock cubes, from Unilever for about $900 million. The deal made Campbell the leading soup maker in Europe. In 2003 Campbell bought Snack Foods Limited, a leading snack food maker in Australia, and Irish dry soup maker Erin Foods from Greencore.

Campbell reorganized its North American business in 2004 into the following units: US Soup, Sauces, and Beverages; Campbell Away From Home, and Canada, Mexico, and Latin America; Pepperidge Farm; and Godiva Worldwide. (In response to dietary trends, the company announced that year that it was removing all trans-fatty acids from its Pepperidge Farm breads.) The company retired the Franco-American brand in 2004; products that carried the brand (most notably SpaghettiOs) now bear the Campbell brand. Also that year company chairman George M. Sherman retired and was replaced by Harvey Golub.

In 2006 Campbell sold its UK and Irish businesses to Premier Foods for about $870 million. Brands involved in the sale included Homepride sauces, OXO stock cubes, and Batchelors, McDonnells, and Erin soups.

Denise Morton succeeded Douglas Conant as CEO of Campbell in August 2011.

In August 2012 Campbell acquired California-based Bolthouse Farms for roughly $1.55 billion from the private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners. The company is a leading producer of fresh-cut carrots, as well as chilled juices and smoothies. In June 2013 the firm acquired organic baby food maker Plum Organics. Campbell will operate Plum as a standalone business within its Campbell North America division.

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John Thompson Dorrance aka John Dorrance III's Timeline

November 11, 1873
Bristol, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, United States
November 12, 1907
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
June 17, 1909
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
November 10, 1911
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
October 15, 1915
Cinnaminson, Burlington County, New Jersey, United States
February 17, 1919
Cinnaminson, Burlington County, New Jersey, United States
September 21, 1930
Age 56
Cinnaminson, Burlington County, New Jersey, United States
Bala Cynwyd, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, United States