JWA needs donors like you to continue sharing stories and inspiring change. $18 helps keep JWA online for one day. Support JWA by making your end of year gift today!
Close [x]

Show [+]

Frieda Caplan

Frieda Caplan’s specialty food company has helped introduce a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to American palates, from kiwis and Asian pears to spaghetti squash and habanero chilies. Caplan graduated from UCLA in 1945 and worked in a law firm and a nylon factory until she became pregnant in the 1950s and began looking for a job with flexible hours. She began working as a vendor at the Los Angeles wholesale produce market, selling brown mushrooms, shallots, and other small specialty items that didn’t suit the larger wholesalers. In 1962 she convinced California farmers to grow Chinese gooseberries, a New Zealand fruit that she renamed kiwi, and officially opened Frieda’s Produce Specialties, the first wholesale produce company owned and operated by a woman. The company’s success with over 600 exotic items has been to educate consumers with descriptions and recipes. The technique has helped bring alfalfa, mango, donut peaches, and purple potatoes to mainstream American groceries. In 1986 her older daughter, Karen, became president and CEO, and her younger daughter, Jackie, later became vice president. In 1990 the pair became co-owners of the business. Frieda Caplan, who is chair of the board as of 2013, remains involved in the day-to-day workings of the business.

Topics: Entrepreneurs

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Kiwi fruit.
Courtesy of aWee/Flickr.
Date of Birth

Los Angeles, CA
United States

Entrepreneur, Founder

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Frieda Caplan." (Viewed on December 9, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/caplan-frieda>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

The JWA Podcast

Can We Talk?

listen now

Get JWA in your inbox