Oral History Session #1
December 12, 2017
Transcript Production Team:
Robert E. Ross
Ross, Robert E. Oral History Interview, December 12, 2017 by Shaun Illingworth, Page #, Rutgers Oral History Archives. Online: Insert URL (Last Accessed: Insert Date).
Robert E. Ross was born on August 25, 1948 in Trenton, New Jersey. He grew up in Ewing Township, attending Parkway Elementary School, Antheil School for junior high and Ewing High School.
Following high school graduation, he went to the College of Agriculture at Rutgers, where he majored in food science and minored in biochemistry. During his time at Rutgers, Dr. Ross participated in the track team and Chi Psi fraternity and chaired the Student-Faculty Relationship Committee. During the anti-Vietnam War movement, he was involved in the debate over the existence of ROTC on campus and, ultimately, the decision to keep ROTC on a voluntary basis. He participated in ROTC for four years at Rutgers, completing basic training during the period between his junior and senior year at Indiantown Gap. He graduated from Rutgers in the Class of 1970.
He went on to earn his PhD in food science at UMass, during which time he served on active duty in the U.S. Army as a quartermaster. For eight years thereafter, he served in the Army Reserves.
To begin his career, Dr. Ross worked at Hunt-Wesson for four-and-a-half years on a variety of the company’s projects, including retort pouch technology, plastic packaging, a study on ad claim substantiation of Orville Redenbacher’s Popcorn, and the different spices used in ketchup and spaghetti sauces. He then worked at Nabisco, in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, and developed a line of low sodium crackers, Teddy Grahams, Mini-Oreos, and Fruit Newtons. Following eleven years at Nabisco, he got a job at the Estee Corporation, in Parsippany, New Jersey, until the company was absorbed by the Hain Celestial Group. He then worked at Pepperidge Farm, in Connecticut, as vice president of its R&D department, developing products such as Goldfish, crackers, cookies, breads and other snacks. After working at Nestlé, he became a food industry consultant for seven years until his retirement.
Dr. Ross served on the National Institute of Food Technology Board of Directors. He participates in the Rutgers Alumni Association of Raleigh-Durham.