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The history of Greek Pasta begins in the first half of the 19th century in Nafplio, the first capital of the newly established Greek state. There, in 1824 was established the first “Macaroni factory”, as it was characteristically called by Nafplio’s residents. Until then, the only pasta that Greeks were familiar with was the ones that they made at home. Those were the traditional chylopittes and frumenty. Soon, other small pasta industries were established, mostly by flourmill owners.

At Kikizas neighborhood, by G. Zambetas.

The Kikizas family started its commercial activity from the village of Elaiochorio in the Arkadia region where Aleskandros Kikizas, one of the twelve children of George and Kanella, was born in1913. In1920, his two elder brothers opened a store of “Colonial food”, right next to their village’s train station. The store did pretty well and soon they decided to expand their business.

In 1925 the eldest brother Athanasios left for Athens and opened a food store at the corner of the streets Lenorman and Palamidiou in Metaxourgeio. One by one, the brothers started coming to Athens. In 1931, Aleksandros also traveled toAthens. They were settled at Palamidiou street at a neo-classic building and soon the whole family moved to Athens. The store grew fast and as all the siblings, both boys and girls were employed there, it developed with impressive rhythm. At that time It employed more than 35 people and it had two cashiers (using the first cash machines of the time). The Athenians knew that “at Kikizas’ place” you could find anything you wanted. The store’s reputation grew so big, that the whole neighborhood was named after it. “Kikizas neighborhood” also became a song in the 1960’s by George Zambetas. The company developed successfully and the Kikizas family was known throughout Athens for its business acumen, but also for its hard work and honesty. Among other activities, they created a distilleries and a mill.

It was then that the family’s relationship with the spaghetti production begun. They outsourced to the spaghetti factory “Dimitra” to produce pasta with their brand name. In 1938 they established a partnership with the “Dimitra” factory and the youngster Aleksandros Kikizas took over the management of the spaghetti factory. During the German Occupation the store limited its production by large. After the War, the brothers decided to divide their activities. Athanasios took over the running of the mill and the wholesale of foodstuff, while Dimitrios undertook the store and the distillery.

In 1947, Aleksandros and his brother Gregory established a pasta producing unit on the Kifissou avenue in Athens under the name “VEZAK” (the first letters from Kikizas brothers Fine Pasta Industry).

At that time 120 local pasta factories were operating in Greece. Among them around 1/3 was located in Attica. The annual production of the whole pasta sector was around 35.000 tons. In 1954, Gregory Kikizas left the company and the whole business passed into the hands of Aleksandros, who gave it the brand name “Melissa” (bee), the symbol of hard work. In 1956 the modernization of the company was put in place. The first automatic press was purchased, and in 1959, the new, highly sophisticated automatic line of production and drying of pasta was set off. By that time, no more than thirty pasta industries were active in the market. The company’s upward trend encouraged Aleksandros Kikizas to install new lines of production. The annual production had already reached 6.000 tons and Melissa was ranked among the biggest pasta companies. In 1965, Aleksandros Kikizas died and his wife Konstantina Kikiza took over the management of the company. Melissa continued investing in new production and packing machinery but also in expanding its facilities. In 1972, it exported its first 32 tons of production to America. In 1973 a new durum wheat mill was established in Larissa which produced durum wheat semolina especially for the pasta factory. In 1975 George Kikizas, Aleskandros’ and Konstantina’s son took up the business. The company, at that time, was constantly among the first in the food sector, counting already twelve companies in the group. In 1977 Melissa bought the Deveta macaroni factory in Thessaly and its annual production exceeded 8.000 tons, while a nationwide distribution network was set.

In 1980 a new vertically organized production complex was established in Larissa, with an annual capacity of 20.000 tons. From that moment on, the company had the most modern facilities in the sector and its sales, both domestically and internationally, increased rapidly.

In the 1980’s George Kikizas established partnership with the big foodstuff company STAR Prodotti Alimentari and in collaboration they bought the PELARGOS factory in the Ilia region. Thus, the big success of the Pummaro tomato products was achieved, which conquered the first place in the market. At that time, the company had already started its cooperation with the Italian company Barilla for a decade, distributing its products in the Greek market.

The 90’s was a decade of great growth, MELISSA – KIKIZAS company expanded its activities abroad and increased its exports in many countries. In Poland, it established successfully its subsidiary ATLANTA. In Greece, it was the first Pasta Industry in production volume, reaching 40.000 tons annually.

In 1999, after an offer made by UNILEVER, PUMMARO brand was sold and the company launched the new tomato products under the PRIMO GUSTO brand name. At the same time, it promoted the new series of pasta “PRIMO GUSTO – MELISSA” which included Tortellini, Tagliatelle, Cannelloni, Tricolore, Ready – made Meals and Sauces.

In the 2000’s the growth of MELISSA-KIKIZAS continued by the acquisitions of the companies “ZIMARIKA STELLA SA.” (STELLA PASTA SA), Paradosiaka Zimarika VLAHA SA (Traditional Pasta Vlaha), “Glika KAZINO SA” (Kazino sweets), “Zimarika AVEZ SA” (AVEZ Pasta SA), while it also distributed through its network the well known canned fruits “DEL MONTE”.

Today MELISSA – KIKIZAS FOODSTUFF COMPANY with a turnover of € 70 million and a workforce of 240 people, is ranked among the biggest foodstuff companies in Greece while the third generation of the Kikizas family paves the way for its further growth in the following decades.