How Did Clarence Birdseye Invent Frozen Food?

In the mid 1920s, Clarence Birdseye went on a hunting trip to Labrador, Canada. It was winter, the weather was bitter cold, and Birdseye was fascinated by what he saw and tasted.

He saw Eskimos catch fish and hang them outside in the sub-zero temperatures to freeze them solid. Birdseye found that when this fish was eaten months later it tasted exactly as though it had just been caught. He was amazed.

The machinery for freezing food had been invented over forty years earlier, but nobody liked the taste of frozen food. Very often it was soggy and mushy. But this frozen fish tasted fresh. Was it because it had been frozen at such cold temperatures?

Birdseye returned home and experimented with freezing fish at super cold temperatures. He found that if he could get the fish below 25 degrees F. in just a few minutes, it tasted delicious. If it took any longer, the fish tasted terrible. Freezers for this kind of super-fast freezing didn’t exist, so he had to manufacture his own.

The first packages of Birdseye frozen foods were in stores by the end of the 1920s, all thanks to a hunting trip to Labrador and an ancient Eskimo method of preserving food.

Clarence Frank Birdseye II was born in New York City in 1886, and died in 1956. The American inventor is considered to be the founder of the modern frozen food industry.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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