Clarence Birdseye and a Brief History of Frozen Food - Deepstash
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The invention of food freezing

The invention of food freezing

Food-freezing techniques were one of the more important inventions in culinary history. First, a slower rate of freezing food was used, but it resulted in poor food quality when the food was thawed.

Clarence Frank Birdseye introduced the quick-freezing method in 1924. He noticed a great amount of food spoiling when commercial fishermen tried to sell their fish to the market. This was due to a lack of insulated transportation and stores with inadequate refrigeration options.


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The indigenous Inuit first used quick freezing

While working with the indigenous Inuit, Birdseye observed that when the native caught fish in fifty below zero weather, the fish froze stiff as soon as they were taken out of the water. When the fish was later thawed, Birdseye noticed it was just as delicious as when it was fresh.

The Inuit also preserved fresh vegetables by putting them in tubs and buckets of water in cold weather, freezing them for later use.


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Birdseye sells nutritious frozen foods

Birdseye sells nutritious frozen foods

On 3 July 1924, Birdseye knew he could use his freezing techniques and started a new venture, General Seafoods, in Gloucester, Massachusetts, a hub of commercial fishing.

In 1930, Birdseye expanded his products to include other frozen foods such as peas, spinach, raspberries, loganberries, cherries, fish and meats. But it took time for America to catch on as refrigeration units were not adequate. By 1933, better refrigeration meant that 516 stores were selling nutritious frozen foods.


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Frozen dinner

  • In 1939, Birdseye started a version of the tv dinner - a single dish, not a complete meal.
  • In 1945, Maxson Food Systems created the first complete frozen meal for US Military aeroplane passengers. The meal included pieces of meat, a vegetable and a snack. 
  • In 1954, a Swedish immigrant Carl A. Swanson launched Swanson TV Dinners - a roast turkey, cornbread dressing, sweet potatoes, and buttered peas in trays that separated into three compartments, keeping the food from blending together.


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