CLEVELAND (AP) — Vincent Marotta, one of the co-founders of the iconic Mr. Coffee brand that helped revolutionize how Americans make their morning brew, died Saturday at his home in suburban Cleveland. He was 91.
Marotta and his business partner and high school friend Samuel Glazer turned Mr. Coffee into a household name after asking two engineers to create a drip brewing system like those found in restaurants. Marotta came up with the idea after his and Glazer's construction and shopping center development business were hurt by a slowdown in the real estate market.
Mr. Coffee helped make the percolator obsolete as the standard for home coffee brewing.
The brand's fortunes received a boost when Marotta persuaded retired New York Yankees star Joe DiMaggio to become the Mr. Coffee spokesman. Ironically, DiMaggio only drank instant decaffeinated coffee because of stomach problems.
Marotta and Glazer sold North American Systems Inc., the company they created in 1972 to manufacture and market Mr. Coffee machines, for $182 million in 1987. Glazer died in 2012. Marotta's family said in a statement that North American Systems employed thousands of people at its headquarters in Bedford Heights, Ohio, and at its manufacturing plants.
Born Feb. 22, 1924, in Cleveland, Marotta was a star high school athlete and was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as a centerfielder in 1942, but he went into the military just before the start of spring training. He became a star running back in football at Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio, after World War II.
Marotta, of Pepper Pike, is survived by his wife Ann, six children and 11 grandchildren. Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday.