100 Greatest Science Inventions of All Time

By Kendall Haven | Go to book overview

Frozen Food_________

Year of Invention: 1927

What Is It? Food frozen so that it may be later thawed and eaten without loss
of flavor or texture.

Who Invented It? Charles Birdseye (in Brooklyn, New York)


Why Is This Invention One of the 100 Greatest?

How much of what you eat comes out of the freezer? Frozen food is one of the most important advances in food technology in a thousand years.

Freezing prevents spoilage, rot, and putrefaction. Freezing prevents the spread of disease and preserves food’s nutrition, flavor, and texture. Frozen foods have expanded the geographic range of food distribution and the seasons in which important seasonal foods are available. Frozen foods have also made meal preparation faster and more convenient.


History of the Invention

What Did People Do Before?

Historically, people ate what was available locally in season. They caught and ate the game that migrated through. They ate fruits and roots when they matured. Once produced, food had to be eaten quickly (within days) before rot and disease-causing bacteria destroyed it. Drying and salting were two food preservation systems people had developed by 4000 B.C.. Cold became popular as a way to preserve food by 1500 B.C.

Early humans knew that refrigeration and freezing delayed putrefaction and preserved foods. Ice cellars were in use by the Chinese and Greeks by 1000 B.C.. However, food once frozen usually thawed mushy and tasteless.

In 1795, Frenchman Nicolas Appert invented food canning in order to win the 12,000-franc award offered by Napoleon for a new food preservation system. Canning expanded to four the list of available food preservation technologies (joining drying, salting, and refrigeration).


How Was Frozen Food Invented?

Born in upstate New York in 1886, Charles Birdseye was a biology major at Amherst College (in Massachusetts) when he was forced to quit school to earn money. He took a job

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