Co-founder of Rainbow Foods and Minnesota's 'Grocer of the Century' dies at age 92


The man who founded Rainbow Foods and Big Top Liquors died "peacefully" Saturday at age 92, according to his obituary.

Sidney Applebaum got his start in the grocery business at a young age. His dad owned a corner grocery stand in downtown St. Paul, where Applebaum would bundle soap and bag rice.


By the 1970s, he and his brothers started Applebaum's Food Markets, which grew to over 30 stores in Minnesota. In 1983, he co-founded Rainbow Foods, where he served as the CEO until 1996, his obituary says.

After retiring from the grocery business, he began focus on liquor stores. Applebaum and his kids had opened a liquor store chain – Big Top Liquors and Sid's Discount Liquors – in 1978. He was very dedicated to his work – he went into the office at Midway Big Top Liquors until last week, his obituary notes.

Applebaum is being remembered for the love he had for his family, always treating people with respect and for his involvement in the community. He was on various boards, including at United Hospital, the University of Minnesota Children's Cancer Research Fund and the Twin Cities U.S. Olympic Festival, his obituary says.

“Anybody that needed anything, anything he could do for someone, he would do. If he had employees who couldn’t afford Thanksgiving dinner, he would take them to the grocery store and buy them whatever they needed,” Jay Applebaum, his son, told the Pioneer Press.

Applebaum's long career in the grocery industry earned him the "Grocer of the Century" award by the Minnesota Grocers Association in 1997.

Services for the longtime grocer will be Tuesday at 1 p.m. at the Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minnetonka.

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