Sidney Applebaum was the co-founder of Applebaum’s Food Markets, Sid’s Discount Liquors, Rainbow Foods, and Big Top Liquors. He was the son of an immigrant Oscar Applebaum who came to the US migrated from.

Who is Sidney Applebaum?
Sidney’s Childhood

Sidney Applebaum was born on February 28, 1924, to Oscar and Bertha Applebaum at St. Paul. He was their youngest son and the second youngest child of the nine children they had. Their family had humble beginnings with the household of eleven sharing a three-bedroom house. After immigration, his father started a corner grocery store stand in St. Peter and at the 7th streets in downtown St. Paul. He was able to do this with the $65 loan that he took from his eldest son. This became the first of Applebaum’s food stores.

There Sidney helped his father by bundling up soaps as well as rice bags. He also delivered fruits and products, working as a box boy. This got him acquainted with the grocery business at a very early age. He graduated from Humboldt Senior High School located in West St. Paul. After graduation, he resumed working in the family business not only helping it grow but also achieve tremendous heights of success.

Applebaum Grocery Stores

By the 1950s, Applebaum’s grocery stores became a big chain with its management taken over by Sidney and his six brothers as well as their two brothers-in-law. And a decade later the chain became national. With Dayton-Hudson’s Target stores, their company kept on building a chain of warehouse supermarkets, which extended from Duluth to Houston.

By 1979, he along with his brothers had progressed the family business and initiated Applebaum’s Food Markets. It eventually grew to over 30 stores in Minnesota and another in Duluth.

Later National Tea founder, D.B. Reinhart of Gateway Foods, bought the chain of Applebaum’s Food Market. Sidney started working with them and he was eventually put in charge of the Twin Cities retail operation. D.B. Reinhart also decided to back Sidney’s idea of converting some of the old Applebaum stores and launching Rainbow Foods.

Rainbow Foods

The chain of Rainbow Foods was founded on October 1, 1983, Sydney Applebaum was its co-founder. He then went on to build Rainbow Foods into a chief grocer the having almost one-third of the market share in the mid-1990s of the Twin Cities. Rainbow foods were store-style supermarkets. In 1994 the chain was sold to Fleming Foods which were based in Texas and later in 2003, it was sold to Roundy’s. After that in 2014, Roundy’s sold many of the Rainbow Foods stores to Lunds and Byerly’s and Supervalu Inc.

Till 1996, Sidney Applebaum became the president of Rainbow Foods despite multiple ownership changes. Following 1997, he bought four Holiday Foods stores in Fridley, Plymouth, Burnsville, and Bloomington. After one and a half year, the stores were sold to Supervalu which later converted them to Cub Foods stores.

Today there are three Rainbow Foods stores remaining in the Twin Cities which includes one store that stands next door to Big Top Liquor which is one of the chains of six liquor stores in Twin Cities owned by the Applebaum family.

Personal Life

Sydney Applebaum married Lorraine Smith on September 17th, 1945. They gave birth to three kids. His children are Nancy, Ellen, and Jay Applebaum. By the time he died, he had eight grandchildren as well as five great-grandchildren.

While Sidney Applebaum was still working with the Applebaum grocery stores, he bought a liquor store on Western Avenue next to Commodore Hotel. In the year 1978, Sidney and his kids started a liquor store chain called Big Top Liquors and the Sid’s Discount Liquors. 

Sidney Applebaum was very well-known for his heavy engagement in the community. He worked with several boards which included the University of Minnesota, the United Hospital, Oak Ridge Country Club, Children’s Cancer Research Fund and was also a member of the Shriners and St. Paul Rotary. Along with that, he helped in the administration of the Olympic Festival and the St. Paul Winter Carnival. Minnesota Grocers Association in 1997 presented him with the “Grocer of the Century” award under the light of his long and marvellous career in the grocery industry.

Last Years of Sidney Applebaum

Before he passed away, Sidney Applebaum was working on some strategies to expand the business. He was hoping to build a new grocery chain with the current stores serving as a base for them. He even cleaned up the stores, working with his plans but nature didn’t allow him to proceed. Sydney Applebaum dedicated most of his life to working and was none the less a very hard worker. Despite his declining health, and the fact that he had to use a walker to assist him, he kept on going to work regularly until one week before he died.  He died in Minnetonka on August 6th, 2016 at the ripe age of 92.

SNL Joke on Sidney Applebaum

While catching SNL (Saturday Night Live), the joke on Sidney Applebaum will only hit you hard if you already know the back history or when you see Bill Hader laughing uncontrollably by breaking his serious-apparent character on it.

As a fun fact, to understand the joke in actual you have to dive deep into the history to enjoy it. A joke with historical background- does it sound weird? Well

Let’s discover what it brings out as you’ll find the joke working in two-folds and harder to get in a single attempt. Damn!

SNL joke on Sidney Applebaum

When you’ll hear Sydney Applebaum’s name compared to Dracula, it will seem weird and harder to control your laughter.

For making it easy to understand, the joke is based on a non sequitur from the famous Woody Allen comedy “Love and Death” in which the general claims that “His victory will make the world remember his name as Sidney Applebaum.”

This statement was one of the few non sequiturs that make the movie great and undoubtedly funny.

On SNL, while performing outstandingly in the comedian show, Stefon a sitcom genius set up the audience by drastically envisioning a Halloween party.

While commenting he says “There was a Jewish version of Blackula- the black Dracula named Sidney Applebaum.” This made the host and audience burst into laughter.

The reason why people laughed depends on two reasons. At first, maybe they were considering the name of Dracula to be cool and humorous. But it turns out lame and ordinary, well-delivered in a sarcastic way.

Or, maybe Dracula would be a nightmare for the attendees that the people attending that party would never forget him just like Sidney Applebaum who is still remembered by the world, only in my mind.

Still don’t get the joke? Let’s have a look at Sydney Applebaum’s life history.

Sidney Applebaum: A man of success

A co-founder of Big Top Liquors, Applebaum’s Food Markets, Sid’s Discount Liquors, and Rainbow Foods, Sidney Applebaum was a man of success, entrepreneur, people’s mentor, and a role model to follow especially for the people involved in Grocery Markets.

Sidney’s Work Timeline and Applebaum’s Logbook

Born on February 28, 1924, he was one of the nine children of Oscar Applebaum and Bertha who came from Russia to St. Paul being an immigrant in 1900 and set up a grocery store at one corner of St.Paul. His father, Oscar Applebaum sold grocery products to people door-to-door with a horse cart. There, Sidney Applebaum started his first job by working as a box boy who did bundle up the soaps and rice bags and delivered fruits and grocery products to his father’s grocery stand. This was their first Applebaum’s food stores.

Then, back in 1924, his father Mr. Oscar opened up the fruits and vegetable market in St. Paul at 7th Street and St. Peter. Sidney and his brothers supported his father in this vision and also sold newspapers on the streets of St. Paul. This hard work started paying off and together they inaugurated their second store at St. Clair in 1932.

Their determination helped this Applebaum family in becoming a chain and the third store got opened up in 1948 at Payne Ave. With time, Oscar’s boys learned the techniques how to successfully grow and all the 7 sons along with 2 sons-in-law set themselves up in Applebaum’s management.

Slowly and gradually, by the 1960s the business spread, and Applebaum’s chain won people’s hearts as they started appreciating Applebaum’s services widely. It helped Applebaums to get a national consideration.

Seeing their success, other businesses too joined Applebaums in their victorious and thriving journey and at very first Dayton Hudson’s Target stores collaborated with this family to set up warehouse supermarkets chain in areas coming midway from Duluth to Houston.

In 1978, with the help of his children Nancy, Ellen, and Jay Applebaum, Sidney started the business of retail liquor stores namely Big Top Liquors and Sid’s Discount Liquors alongside.

In 1979, 26 stores from Applebaum’s chain did merge with National Tea Co. of Rosemount III. In the same year, Applebaum’s supermarkets became the largest Twin Cities food retailer after 19 National Tea stores converted to Applebaum’s chain in the markets of Twin Cities.

Later on, National Tea sold its 56 stores of Applebaum to a wholesale grocery business, named Gateway foods which brought back Sidney Applebaum to lead. Sidney helped this firm to develop and converted these stores into Rainbow Foods chain in 1982.

Things changed as people do but Sidney remained in lead despite these changes. In 1994, Fleming Cos. bought Rainbow and Gateway Foods but kept empowered Sidney to remain positioned as the president of Rainbow Unit.

Finally, in 1997, Sidney Applebaum- a big brand got retired from his services of Rainbow Foods at the age of 73 and shifted all his focus to his liquor stores.

Wanna know more about him, his family, and his memories? Keep reading

His Beloved Family and Education

Sidney Applebaum had a large family of nine, all living in a house having only three bedrooms to share on the west of St. Paul. He graduated from Humboldt High School while being brought up in St. Paul. As he grew up and made it to the age of 22, he met the apple of his eyes Lorraine Smith, and they got married in 1946.

Together with Lorrain, Sidney lived a happy life and gave birth to 3 children namely Nancy, Jay, and Ellen. Despite having a busy schedule, he was a loving husband and a great father who always preferred family first.  For him, nothing was more important than his family and love of life, Lorraine.

This couple was a goal to many indeed!

His greatest pleasure was seeing, appreciating, and enjoying his family together, happy and growing. You can imagine his devotion to his family that he never missed any golf match, swim meet, little league game, or a dance performance not only of his children but of his next generation too.

With his children and grandchildren, Sidney loved to play golf and he always spent his winter in Palm Springs, California to enjoy the moments of beauty with friends and family.

Sidney Applebaum and his love of life, Lorraine would have celebrated their 70th happy and successful wedding anniversary but nature didn’t allow them to be together anymore.  When Sidney died on August 6, 2016, at the age of 92, he left his love Lorraine, 3 children, 8 grandchildren, 5 great-grandchildren along with darling nieces and nephews behind.

He was a man of success who successfully managed his personal life and work schedule luckily for everything. His family now only has his memories to remember and his teachings to learn from in their practical lives.

Some of the memories from Sidney’s Collection:

Even till the last week before his death, Sidney used to wake up at 4 early in the morning and it was his routine to daily visit what he built, Big Top Liquors.

Jay Applebaum while sharing a precious moment of Sidney’s life told us that one day his father, Sidney Applebaum had been caught in an argument with a police officer because he was driving with bright lights on his way to Big Top Liquors. While seeing his driving license, the officer himself got shocked that Sidney is 90 years old but still driving to work huh?

It was unbelievable seeing this dedication at this age and time.

For Nancy, it was her duty to pick her father up from his home and then take him to Perkins to have some pancakes and coffee first, before going to the office. According to her, when Nancy and Sidney would stop in Perkins’ parking lot, the restaurant’s workers see them and ready their routine orders before Sidney entered the restaurant’s door.

Sidney had that kind of connection with the people he had acquaintance with.

He treated everyone with respect either he was a business or an ordinary worker. Due to this reason, he had developed old-strong relations with people who worked for him for years.

According to his son Jay, Sidney had an employee who has served him for 60 years of his life and to consider, many people have served him for 30 years or more.

He was humble and he did never forget his parents, brother, family, children, and home while continuously working to grow his own as well as his father’s business.

He was generous with all, not only with those who were equally fortunate or more fortunate than him but also with those who were less fortunate.

If somebody needed something and Sidney could help him for fulfilling that need, he would happily help. According to Jay, if his employees couldn’t afford dinner in gratitude, Sidney would arrange it for them.

People respected him just like he did and will surely remember him for the rest of their lives!

Sidney’s Awards and Achievements

For appreciating his endless professional efforts in the industry of grocery, Minnesota Grocers Association awarded Sidney as “Grocer of the century” in 1997.

His ethics, work passion, and determination defined his character beautifully.

In 2014, Sidney was also recognized as “Market Watch Leader” for his success of Big Top Liquors.

All his life, he appreciated, respected, and helped people with his sincere heart and intentions. He believed that he should give back to people what the community had given him. This made him modest and humanitarian.

For this purpose, he served as a member of several boards including the Twin Cities US Olympic Festival, United Hospital, Oak Ridge Country Club, University of Minnesota Children’s Cancer Research Fund, The Highland Bank, the Shriners, and also St. Paul Rotary.

For his dedicated humanitarian services, he was appreciated with the “Service to Humanity Award” in 1994 by United Hospital and was also declared as “Trustee of the Year 2005”.

The world still does and will always remember Sidney Applebaum not only for his dedication to work but also for his love for family, respect, and generosity to others, and humanitarian services.

Now hope you got the joke? Live it!

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