Soup mix, as we Americans know it today, descends from portable soups consumed by explorers, soldiers, and travelers for hundreds of years. Rehydration is a simple and economical way to serve hot nourishment when standard recipes are not possible.
A survey of historic American newspaper articles and food history sources confirm dried soup mixes were introduced to the general consumer in the 1930s. The market blossomed in the 1940s, when several companies agressively promoted a variety of flavors to busy housewives. The hook? Convenience (quick, easy), economics (mixes were inexpensive) and versatility (mixes could be used to create sauces for casseroles, gravies for meats/vegetables, and dips for snacks).
Of all these products, the most famous is Lipton's Onion Soup Mix. Why? In the early 1950s a recipe for California Dip, combining this product with sour cream, caught the attention of the American palate. This classic dip is still beloved by many today.
The first mass producer of dry soup was The Thomas J. Lipton Company. Since that time General Mills, with its Betty Crocker noodle soup mix, Skinner and Eddy Corporation with its Minute Man vegetable, noodle and chicken flavor rice soup mixes and Dainty Food Manufacturers, Inc., a Kraft Cheese affiliate, with its Dainty noodle soup mix, have all entered the lists. These three companies are all using newspapers and radio to test campaigns in various cities.