George Birdseye, growing up in New York State, developed an interest in natural history from an early age. Additionally, his entrepreneurial spirit enabled him to make money by capturing and selling frogs to zoos as well as trapping rare breeds of black rats for geneticists.
In 1928, Birdseye developed a fast freezing method for foods that preserved their cellular structure and composition. This innovation, coupled with household refrigeration, revolutionized the global food industry forever.
Early Life and Education
As a trapper and fur trader in Labrador, Birdseye noticed that trout caught on ice could be almost identical in flavor and texture to fresh fish when thawed. This discovery would become the impetus behind his groundbreaking invention of frozen foods – one of the greatest advancements in food industry history.
He initially attended Amherst College as a biology major, but financial difficulties prevented him from completing the program and earning a degree. Instead of giving up on education, he embarked on an entrepreneurial journey which would ultimately lead him to great success.
Clarence Birdseye was an accomplished American inventor and entrepreneur. He is renowned for inventing a method for flash freezing foods, which helped launch the frozen food industry.
His work with frozen foods formed the basis for Birds Eye Frozen Foods, which would go on to become a successful company. On October 7, 1956 he passed away at Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City and was cremated.
He was born on December 9, 1886 in Brooklyn, New York and attended Montclair High School before transferring to Amherst College. Prior to starting his invention career in 1922, he had worked as a naturalist.
Achievements and Honors
Birdseye made a major breakthrough in the frozen food industry by developing an expeditious freezing technique that is still used today. Their process involved packing dressed fish or other foods into cartons, then freezing them between two refrigerated surfaces under pressure.
He created cellophane wrappings for frozen foods and insulated railroad cars to ship them. He also created improved food display lighting as well as heat lamps to keep foods warm.
His work was highly regarded, with more than 300 patents to his name – including a recoil-less harpoon gun for hunting whales and an efficient method of turning bagasse (crushed sugarcane residue) into paper pulp. Throughout his life, his passion for animals and the environment never wavered; thus he continued to pursue scientific research with dedication.
Birdseye is best known as the inventor of frozen foods. He developed a method for rapidly freezing packaged items with their cellular structure intact, preserving their freshness, flavor and vitamin content.
He perfected this technique while living in Labrador, Canada as a fur trader and naturalist. Here he learned how to freeze food rapidly at temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius.
On his return to the United States, he applied his frozen fish-freezing techniques to other forms of food. In 1924 he founded General Seafoods Corporation in Gloucester, Massachusetts and began selling his quick-frozen fish fillets.
Unfortunately, his fish fillets weren’t particularly popular. Though disappointed, he didn’t give up and went on to develop other frozen food items which proved successful in reaching the American market.
Clarence Frank Birdseye II was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 9, 1886 as the sixth child of lawyer and farm owner Clarence Birdseye I and Ada Jane Underwood (nee Underwood).
At the age of 17, he desired to study biology at Amherst College but his parents couldn’t provide the funds. Instead, he took summer jobs as a field naturalist for the United States Biological Survey, working mainly in Montana and Arizona.
He also worked in Labrador, Canada where he observed natives’ methods of freezing food and developed an interest in rapidly freezing fish.
He married Eleanor Garrett while in Labrador and they had one son, Kellogg. On October 7, 1956, at 69 years old, he suffered a heart attack and passed away from it near Gloucester, Massachusetts. His ashes were scattered at sea near Gloucester for eternal rest.