Nickname of Joe Carcione, a smiling Italian-American who owned and operated a produce house in San Francisco and who became nationally known as “The Greengrocer” when he hosted short TV spots recommending what was fresh and in-season in the world of fruits and vegetables.
Born on Halloween 1914 in San Francisco, Carcione was the second child of Peter and Catherine Carcione. At age 18 he began working at his father’s produce market arriving each day at 5:00 AM. Joe’s wholesale import/export business made him a wealthy man but he was unaffected by the material possessions.
In 1974, he was asked to do a TV spot for a local San Francisco station. Joe had already written a newspaper column, two books and hosted a local call-in radio program.
“This Joe Carcione, your Greengrocer inviting you join me on Action News weekdays at 12 Noon and 5 o’clock for my daily report on fresh fruits and vegetables. I’ll give you helpful information on the best value, new varieties and bits of history on produce. Plus tips on how to save money on your food budget. So pick up a bushel of advice from me, Joe Carcione, your Greengrocer weekdays on Action News at 12 Noon and 5 o’clock right here on Channel 6”
His segments (aired nationally) were shot (five at a time) in his market where he used some old benches and a card board box for his stage. His sense of humor and cheery outlook on life carried through to his viewers and made him an instant celebrity.
Joe’s catchphrase was, “But I wanna tell ya’ folks.” He signed off each segment with, “I’m Joe Carcione, your Greengrocer with your tip for the day.”
Born October 31, 1914, Joe Carcione, the “Green Grocer” died of intestinal cancer on August 2, 1988 at Peninsula Hospital in Burlingame, California. His body was entombed at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California.
Carcione left behind three children and nine grandchildren. His smile and warmth will be missed. Just a year earlier, Joe had celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary with his wife, Madeleine Ahern (a.k.a. “Babe”).