Family  /  Origin Story

The Frothy Saga of the Jacuzzi Family

An immigrant story, an American dream, a machine that defined bourgeois sensuality.

A Leisure Activity’s Rise and Fall

The J-300 was a pump designed by Candido that created a similar whirl of warm water to the Hubbard and could be attached to a bath. But Ken could stretch his whole body out, whereas he had to sit upright in the Hubbard.

Once they understood the pump’s health potential, and made structural improvements to the design, the brothers began selling the units in 1949, through bath supply shops and pharmacies, before widening their focus to the broader commercial market in the mid 1950s.

An ad campaign promoted it as a “lightweight, portable, hydromassage unit,” perfect for “the tired businessman or harried housewife, for the golfer with sore muscles, for the aches and pains of senior citizens, for frolicking youngsters and for those who just want to relax and pamper themselves with a hydromassage bath.”

To some consumers the idea of mixing an electrical device with water was worrisome, so the Jacuzzis started making bath units with the technology built-in, the first of which became the original whirlpool, known as the Roman Bath (the family now has more than 50 patents). These early models featured multiple wall-mounted jet fittings, heaters and recirculation pump filters, as well as skid-proof steps and an optional safety rail.

Hence, the Jacuzzi was born.

By adding fiberglass panels, the Jacuzzi could be configured in various shapes and sizes, resulting in the 1966 Luxury Line Hydro-Therapy Pool, the same year it made its film debut in “The Fortune Cookie,” directed by Billy Wilder and starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon.

Coinciding with postwar prosperity, the Jacuzzi reached the market at the perfect time.

The 1960s and ’70s were awash with glittering swimming pools and a growing sentiment placing greater importance on health and happiness.

The Jacuzzi as a visual status symbol was powerful: There were advertisements in glossy magazines of men and women lounging in bubbling vessels. It offered wholesome fun for the family, a place to sulk moodily as a misunderstood teenager or a sensual world unto itself.

By the ’80s, Jacuzzis were globally recognized. The business had opened factories in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Italy, as well as in the United States, choosing Lonoke, Ark., as its hub.

All of the children and grandchildren were expected to chip in during school and college vacations: working the assembly lines, packing boxes and answering the phones. “There was always that ‘you have to do it for the family’ kind of thing,” Paulo said of the Jacuzzi family’s sense of unity.