On 3rd July 1924 Clarence Birdseye founded “the General Seafood Company” later to become “Birdseye Frozen Foods”.


As a young scientist working in the Arctic on behalf of the US Government Clarence Birdseye wasn’t surprised to note that freshly caught fish placed on the ice and exposed to the wind, immediately froze solid. What did surprise him was that when he thawed out and cooked the fish several weeks later (a dangerous experiment if they had “gone off” he would probably have died) the fish tasted almost the same as if they had been cooked from fresh and with the same texture.


This discovery was to create a new food industry and make Birdseye a millionaire.


Birdseye realised that the combination of ice, wind, and low temperatures resulted in such quick freezing of certain foods that it kept large crystals from forming. Slow freezing attempts had resulted in the formation of large crystals, transforming the food so that it could never be eaten. But if the freezing was accomplished quickly enough, there was no damage to the cellular structure of the food.


Birdseye knew that he had discovered something very important, but he wasn’t certain what. All he knew for sure was that he had the beginnings of what could be a very profitable business. A careful man, he continued to work in various government departments from 1917 to 1925, while perfecting his freezing methods to retain freshness, texture and taste.


The Final Secret


After years of experimentation Birdseye finally discovered the secret to freezing food safely. By wax-packing dressed fish and other foods in cartons then freezing them between two flat, refrigerated surfaces under pressure the food quickly froze solid with almost no damage at all to the cellular structure. Foods packaged and frozen in this new way were almost exactly the same when thawed weeks or months later. Birdseye quickly applied for, and was granted, a patent on the exclusive method.


Birdseye knew he had found the answer to safely preserving foods for an indefinite time, an answer that could make him a fortune. With this new technique safely patented, and with the backing of some rich partners who believed in his process, he formed the General Seafood Corporation.


This was the beginning of a food industry that has since become massive. A look in the refrigerated section of any supermarket will reveal an amazing variety of delicious frozen foods. There will be many types of fish, the food that started it all, and dozens of meat and poultry foods as well as French fried potatoes, milkshakes, and complete breakfasts and dinners. There are even pizza combinations and other specialty frozen foods waiting for consumers. Recently, chain hamburger and hot dog companies began supplying their products in frozen form to supermarkets.


This huge industry began with the discoveries of Clarence Birdseye.

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