In December 1914, a man named Clarence Birdseye was suffering through a bitterly cold Canadian winter. One morning, he noticed something strange about the water he'd just poured into a bowl. In a letter to his father, he wrote:
I scooped up a handful and found that the bowl was full of a spongy mass of ice crystals; yet a few seconds before, there had been no sign of ice in the water. Evidently the water had been in a state of equilibrium — at the freezing point, all ready to congeal, but needing some little stirring up to start the crystallization. I seem to remember seeing the same thing done in a physics lab experiment, but certainly never ran across it before 'in nature.' Did you?
Perhaps many people had. But only Birdseye used those observations and experiences to invent a new method of food preservation: fast-freezing. It's familiar now — all those long freezer aisles in the grocery store — but in 1925, when Birdseye launched his Gloucester frozen food company, the method was revolutionary. And it changed the way the world eats.
Best-selling author Mark Kurlansky tells the tale in his new book, "Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious Man."
You can read an excerpt of Kurlanksy's new book, below:
- Mark Kurlansky, author of "Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious Man"
This segment aired on May 15, 2012.