Birdseye, inventor of modern day frozen food, legacy in print

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In this book cover image released by Doubleday, "Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious Man", by Mark Kurlansky, is shown. (AP Photo/Doubleday)

In this book cover image released by Doubleday, "Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious Man", by Mark Kurlansky, is shown. (AP Photo/Doubleday)

Peeking through the fogged glass doors of your local grocers frozen food isle is Clarence Birdseye’s legacy.

He is the inventor of modern day frozen food and creator of one of the most recognizable frozen food brands: Birds Eye. Birdseye created a method of freezing food that when thawed maintained the integrity of fresh food.

He found that by freezing fish at lower temperatures (-45 degrees F) and under pressure, the fish when thawed maintained its freshness. His pioneering methods are still used today and credited for leading the way to frozen foods from TV dinners to pizza that we all enjoy.

At the time of his death in 1956, from heart failure, Birdseye had 200 patents in his name, reports the Associated Press.

Author Mark Kurlansky, known for his books “Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World” and “Salt: A World History,” released his newest book—a biography on Clarence Birdseye called, “Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious Man.”

Kurlansky tells NPR that Birdseye was, “somebody who just wanted to know about everything. He wanted to know why people did things the way they did, and couldn’t they be done better. He was very interested in processes. He was very curious about nature. He had a nickname for a while — other kids called him ‘Bugs.’ He was interested in all these slimy little things.”

Kurlansky starts the book with Birdseye’s life in New York in 1886 to his days experimenting with freezing methods and making history to his death.

Birdseye’s extraordinary character is exemplified in the details, like inserting into each box of Birds Eye frozen fish fillets in 1927 this note:

“The product in this container is frozen hard as marble by a marvelous new process which seals in every bit of just-from-the-ocean flavor.”

Listen to Kurlansky’s interview on NPR.

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