Today is Frozen Food Day

TV dinners were first produced in 1954, about 30 years after the discovery of the flash freezing process

HOME freezing of leftovers has long since been a convenient way of preserving food for later consumption. Similarly, storing pre-frozen food items for later use is an everyday thing. But how many of us stop to think about the origins of freezing food?

Enter Clarence Frank Birdseye II, American inventor, entrepreneur and naturalist. Some may recognise his name from the famous frozen food company, and for good reason as Birdseye discovered the flash freezing process while working as a fur trader in Labrador.

Flash freezing forms small ice crystals which prevent the food’s cell walls from bursting. While people had been freezing food for many years prior to Birdseye’s discovery, the food was frozen over a long period of time, causing large ice crystals to form, rupture the cell walls and turn the food to mush.

Upon his discovery of flash freezing in 1924, Birdseye began applying for patents and was granted one in 1927. Given that, at the time, a mere 8% of the American population had access to refrigeration, applying for a frozen food patent was revolutionary indeed.

In 1930, the Birdseye label, owned by the General Food Corporation, began selling 26 products to 18 retail stores in and around Springfield, Massachusetts. This, in turn, led to the invention of ‘TV dinners’ in 1954.

In 1984 President Ronald Reagan signed proclamation 5157 to officially give Birdseye his dues and recognise the success and foresight of his invention.

Reagan thus declared today, 6 March, Frozen Food Day, calling upon consumers to ‘observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities’.


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Tamlyn Jolly

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