Significant socio-economic events associated with development of the food chain
See also Prices and other Economic Events for agricultural wages and trades unions
See also Great Britain pre 1901 for agricultural unrest e.g. Swing Revolt 1830
See also Canal-Sea for declining shipping rates of food etc.
See also Education-University for founding dates of agricultural colleges.
“If you want to defeat a country easily—feed it your food.” Ivan the Terrible. "Food is a tool. It is a weapon in the U.S. negotiating kit" Earl Butz, US President Nixon's agricultural secretary “The golden arches are the most recognized symbol in the world. The restaurant provides food for people in 119 countries, especially the USA. There are even 179 restaurants in India where most people don't eat either beef or pork.” Business Insider, 17 December 2010.
“When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they have no food, they call me a Communist” Archbishop Helder Camara, Brazil.
Food rationing & war
Bananas – see Appendix 1
Bread – see Appendix 2
Chocolate – see Appendix 3
Fish – see Appendix 4
Potatoes – see Appendix 5
Sugar – see Appendix 6
Tea and Coffee – see Appendix 7
20/2/2017, The UN declared a famine in South Sudan; the first famine it had declared for six years.
3/6/2016, In the UK, four of the seven board members of the National Obesity Forum resigned in protest over a report that people should eat more fat, less sugar, to lose weight.
2016, The number of undernourished people rose for the first time since 2003, when the figure stood at 947 million (14/7% of global population). In 2015 the figure was 777 million (10.6%), rising to 815 million (11.0%) in 2016. Armed conficts were blamed for the rise. Climate disasters also cause conflict through creating food shortages.
22/9/2014, Tesco shared fell sharply as the food retailer admitted overstating its profits by some £250 million. The issue was with clawed-back payments from Tesco’s suppliers, in return for better shelf positioning and other ‘perks’; future such payments had been included in earlier-period profit statements.
13/1/2013, The Food Safety Authority of Ireland announced the discovery of horsemeat in four Tesco beef products.
15/3/2001. The UK began a programme to kill all farm animals suspected of carrying foot and mouth.
20/2/2001, The UK Foot and Mouth Crisis began, 20 years after the disease last hit the UK. Diseased pigs were discovered at an abattoir in Essex. They were traced back to Burnside farm at Heddon on the Wall, Northumbria. By this time over 40 other farms had been infected, by an unusually virulent strain of the disease first seen in India in 1990; probably arriving in the UK via illegally imported meat. Drastic measures in the UK contained the outbreak as thousand of animals were burned, footpaths closed, and farmers virtually put under house arrest. The last case was at a farm in Cumbria on 30/9/2001, by which time 2,030 farm animals had been identified with Foot and Mouth, and around 6 million sheep, cows, pigs and other livestock slaughtered, one eighth of Britain’s farm animals. Foot and Mouth was finally declared over on January 2002. Farmers were compensated for their lost animals, but the biggest loser was the tourist industry, as rural paths stayed closed through the summer of 2001.
16/10/2000. Food riots hit Harare, capital of Zimbabwe.
13/9/2000, The French court handed down the verdict in the Jose Bove McDonalds trial. Mr Bove got three months.
29/6/2000. The discovery that a cow born after the introduction of controls to eradicate BSE was found to be suffering from the disease sparked new worries about transmission of the condition.
12/8/1999, Local sheep farmers in Millau, S France, led by Mr. Jose Bove, attacked and demolished a partly-built McDonalds restaurant. This was in response to US restrictions on the import of Roquefort cheese, which was itself in retaliation for European restrictions on imports of hormone-fed beef, which affected US farmers. Roquefort production employed some 1,300 people in the Millau area and annual sales to the US were 440 tonnes. The US imposed a 100% import duty on Roquefort, sending its price in Washington DC up from US$ 30 to US$ 60 per kilo, and US sales of this cheese dwindled to zero.
13/5/1999, The World Trade Organisation, having condemned the EU ban on imports of hormone-treated beef, had set a deadline of this day for the EU to revoke the ban. This deadline was not met, see 12/8/1999.
18/2/1999, The UK Government decided GM crops would not be grown commercially until field trials proved they were harmless.
23/11/1998, European Agriculture Ministers met to lift the ban on UK beef exports that had followed the BSE crisis.
31/12/1997, The US retail chain Wal-Mart announced its intention to expand into Europe, by acquiring the German retailer Werkauf with its 21 supermarkets.
19/6/1997, The fast food chain McDonalds won a partial victory in its McLibel case against two environmental campaigners. The judge derided it was true that McDonalds targeted its advertising at children, who then pestered their parents to visit McDonalds.
27/3/1996, The European Commission imposed a total ban on the export of UK beef, worldwide, in the wake of the fatal CJD outbreak, linked to BSE or ‘mad cow’ disease.
20/3/1996. British beef was banned in Europe over BSE scares.
7/3/1996, Genetically-modified sheep Megan and Morag were introduced to the world.
7/12/1995. A link was revealed between BSE in cattle and CJD in humans.
29/8/1994. In Britain, large shops were allowed to open legally for the first time on a Sunday.
8/12/1993. The House of Commons voted to allow large British shops to open for six hours on Sundays. High Street shops now prepared for a price war with the supermarkets.
22/3/1991. Millions of people were threatened by starvation and civil war in Ethiopia.
14/12/1990. The EC agreed to send food aid to the USSR, whose food distribution system had collapsed.
15/10/1990. Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. However in November and December bread rationing had to be introduced in some Russian cities, including Leningrad. Despite a record harvest, distribution systems had broken down. Grain rotted in Russian warehouses whilst the international community, led by Germany, sent emergency food aid. 31/5/1990. Fears about mad cow disease lead to a Europe-wide ban on British beef imports, led by France.
27/5/1990, The Kremlin announced economic reforms that would phase out subsidies on many staple foods, causing meat, sugar and bread prices to double or treble. The reforms would not take effect without Parliamentary approval, and a shopping frenzy ensued, emptying shop shelves.
31/1/1990, The first McDonalds in Russia opened in Pushkin Square, Moscow.
9/1/1990, The UK Government allotted £2.2 million for research into Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).
30/5/1989. Food riots in Argentina threatened the economic reforms of the new President, Carlos Menem.
16/12/1988, Edwina Curry, Britain’s Junior Health Minister, resigned over her statement a fortnight earlier that most British eggs were contaminated with salmonella. Egg sales plummeted and famers demanded compensation.
4/12/1988, Edwina Curry rashly claimed that most British eggs were infected with salmonella. She had to resign on 16/12/1988.
4/9/1988. Nutritionists blamed junk food for Britain’s increased youth violence.
28/8/1988, The longest trial in Spanish history came to an end after 15 months. Alleged sales of toxic olive oil had killed 600 and injured thousands more.
17/5/1988. Sainsbury announced sales of over £5 billion in the UK in 1987, selling 10.7% of all UK groceries.
1987, The Red Bull energy drink was created by the Austrian company Red Bull GmbH. 5,387 million cans of Red Bull were sold worldwide in 2013, giving it the highest market share of any energy drink.
1986, The world grain harvest was 1,650 million tonnes, up 2.61x from the 631 million tonne harvest in 1950. This food increase outstripped world population growth, which over this period rose from 2.56 billion to 4.80 billion, a rise of 1.88x.
20/6/1986, Movement of sheep in Cumbria was banned because of radiation residues from Chernobyl.
25/5/1986. Bob Geldof’s Race Against Time had 30 million people worldwide running for Sport Aid to raise money for the starving in Africa.
31/5/1985. 500,000 tons of food had been delivered to alleviate a severe famine in Ethiopia, as millions starved.
23/4/1985, New Coke was introduced by the Coca Cola company, and production of the original Coke was halted. A few months later in July 1985 the company had to admit the new product was a flop and reverted to the original soft drink.
4/11/1984, British Air Force began food airlift to famine-struck province of Tigre, Ethiopia.
28/2/1984. French farmers protested against foreign meat imports into France. There was a meat glut in Europe and President Mitterand’s government had ended rail subsidies for transport of agricultural produce from Brittany. Farmers hijacked and burned lorries with agricultural produce from other EEC member states, or gave the lorries contents away to hospitals and schools. Farmers also blockaded railway lines and Channel ports, and main roads. In one incident farmers ransacked government offices in Brest, Brittany.
14/1/1984, Ray Kroc, US business entrepreneur who developed the McDonalds fast food chain, died aged 81.
10/9/1983, The heaviest man in the US, Jon Browner Minnoch, died weighing 362 kg. When admitted to hospital in March 1978, he weighed 635 kg, or 102 stone.
1980, Marks and Spencer started selling sandwiches. Some doubted whether consumers would pay for a product they could easily make at home. They quickly sold out.
16/12/1980, Harland ‘Colonel’ Sanders, founder of the Kentucky Fried Chicken chain, died aged 90.
29/10/1980, In the UK, poultry breeders launched a new kind of bird called a ‘churkey’. It was a small turkey that tasted like a chicken.
1975, The first McDonalds Drive Thru’ opened.
28/8/1975, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a ban on the use of polyvinyl chloride plastic for packaging of certain foods, because of its potential for causing cancer. At the time, PVC was the second most-used plastic in American food packaging. Although PVC film wrapping of meat and fruits was still permitted, the use of hard PVC plastic on lunch meat packages, and for bottles of liquids, was to be prohibited.
1/10/1974. The first McDonalds opened in London, heralding the UK’s fast-food revolution.
8/10/1973. The first TV commercial in Britain for frozen fish fingers was broadcast.
16/3/1971, In Britain the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) was set up.
31/7/1970, The British Royal Navy ended its long tradition of a daily rum ration for the sailors. After the British capture of Jamaica in 1655, rum had replaced beer because it remained sweeter for longer in hot climates. From the late 1700s it was mixed with lemon juice, to ward off scurvy. Later, lime juice (which contained less vitamin C) was substituted for the lemon, earning the British sailors the nickname ‘limeys’.
31/12/1968, The ‘lion’ ceased to be stamped on British eggs. The practice began on 30/6/1957.
20/2/1968, In Britain, the provision of free school milk at secondary schools ceased.
6/3/1966, Food riots in West Bengal, India, spreading to Kolkata and Delhi.
1964, Flora Margarine was launched by Unilever, and first advertised on TV in 1965. It was marketed as a healthy alternative to butter, especially for men, being ‘high in polyunsaturates’.
1964, In the USA the Food Stamp Act expanded food aid for the poor.
8/12/1964, Simon Marks, successful retailer in conjunction with Thomas Spencer,
knighted in 1944, and made a peer in 1961, died in
16/7/1964, In the UK, the abolition of Resale Price Maintenance on most goods facilitated the subsequent growth of the supermarkets.
1963, Weight Watchers was founded in New York.
4/6/1963, At the World Food Congress, John F Kennedy said “The war against hunger is truly mankind’s war of liberation”.
25/3/1963, The Co-op on Frodingham Road, Scunthorpe, converted from counter service to self service. Now 24 of the 35 Co-ops in the area were self service, and just three remained offering counter service in Scunthorpe itself.
1962, The first Wal-Mart was opened, by Sam Walton, in Rogers, Arkansas.
1962, Ring pull cans first appeared in the shops. This meant cans could be opened without a tin opener, meaning soft drinks and beer could be more easily consumed away from the home.
1960, Hagen Daz ice cream went on sale in New York, USA.
1957, In Britain the ‘Go to work on an egg’ campaign was launched, featuring TV commercials by comedian Tony Hancock.
30/6/1957, The ‘lion’ was stamped on British eggs from this day. The practice ended on 31/12/1968.
1/4/1957, The BBC ran an April fools spoof documentary about spaghetti being harvested from trees in Switzerland.
7/10/1956. Death of US frozen foods pioneer, Clarence Birdseye.
9/4/1955, Ray Krok founded the McDonalds burger chain. The first McDonalds restaurant was in Des Plaines, Chicago – or – 15/4/1955, San Bernardino, California.
1954, Over 90% of US farms had electricity, up from 11% in 1935.
10/7/1954, US President Eisenhower signed Public Law 480, the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act of 1954, better known as PL-480. This facilitated the export of grain to US-aligned governments that were facing threats from Leftist agencies, either internal rebels or intimidation from a Soviet-aligned State next door. PL-480 could be used to keep recalcitrant allies, those possibly sliding towards Communism, in line. For example in 1965 US President Johnson shifted the renewal of PL-480 food aid to India from an annual to a monthly basis, threatening India with withdrawal of food aid as India’s President Shastri expressed disapproval of US bombing in Vietnam. However if Shastri abandoned Nehru’s ideas of land distribution to Indian peasants then India would receive US agricultural technology, enhancing food yields.
3/7/1954. Food rationing ended in
5/2/1953, The UK Food Minister, Gwilym Lloyd-George, declared an end to the rationing of sweets and chocolate. Domestic purchases of sugar, however, stayed on-rations until September 1953. Toffee apples were in greatest demand, followed by nougat and liquorice strips. Sweets had been briefly de-rationed in 1949 but demand had outstripped supply, prompting re-rationing after 2 months.
1952, The Tetrapak first appeared as a commercial container for milk. It was easy to store, transport and open, and kept the liquid insode hygienically sealed. By the 1990s other loquid foodstuffs from soup to wine were sold in Tetrapaks.
5/10/1952, In the UK, tea came off-ration. However meat, bacon, sugar, butter, margarine, cooking fats, eggs, cheese, were still rationed. All food rationing ended on 3/7/1954.
12/7/1952, The Soviets began to collectivise agriculture in East Germany.
27/1/1951 In Britain, meat rations were reduced to their lowest level yet, the equivalent of 4 ounces of rump steak a week.
1950, The average US farm was 215.3 acres, up from 136.2 acres in 1900.
11/1950, Over five years after World War Two ended, the Women’s Land Army in Britain was finally disbanded.
31/7/1950. Britain’s first self-service store, Sainsbury in Croydon, opened.
28/2/1950. France passed a Bill limiting the sale of Coca Cola.
19/9/1949, ‘Twiggy’, British model, actress,
and singer, was born in Neasden,
12/1/1948. The Co-op opened the first supermarket in
1947, The first commercial microwave ovens were sold (see 8/10/1945). They were 1.7 metres tall and weighed 350 kilograms. They cost US$ 5,000.
10/11/1947, Strachey admitted to the House of Commons that because of food shortages and rationing, the average daily Calorie intake per head was down to 2,700, as opposed to a British Medical Association recommendation of 3,386 made in July 1933.
30/6/1947. In the
9/4/1947, The first food packages from the USA for Britain arrived at Liverpool. They were sent by the charity organisation CARE (Co-operative for Remittance to Europe) and intended for unemployed widows who had children to look after.
22/1/1947. The meat
31/12/1946, In Britain, people were eating horsemeat as the food, fuel and transport crisis continued.
28/3/1946, The British Government announced plans for free school dinners and free milk at school.
7/2/1946. In response to world food shortages, UK food rations were reduced.
16/10/1945, The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) was established. Its aim was to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living.
8/10/1945, Percy Spencer, a radar expert, patented the first microwave oven. His employer gave him a bonus of 2 US$. US engineers working on the magnetron, a crucial component of radar systems in World war Two, had noticed how food items in the lab would warm up when near this apparatus; in fact engineers used to test iof the magnetron was working by puting their finger near it to see if it warmed up.
17/9/1944. The British airborne invasion of Arnhem and Nijmegen, Holland,
began as part of Operation Market Garden, to secure a bridge over the
6/1943, In Britain, 65,000 members of the Women’s Land Army were now producing 70% of the nation’s food.
1/4/1943. The rationing of meats, fats, and cheese began in the
26/7/1942, In Britain, sweets were rationed.
1/7/1942. The charity, Oxford Famine Relief (Oxfam) was formed, see 1/7/1948.
1940, US annual consumption of meat per capita stood at 142 lbs. In 1970 it was 184 lbs.
11/3/1940, In the UK, meat rationing began.
8/1/1940. Sugar, butter, ham and bacon were rationed in
23/11/1939, The deadline for British households to register for their ration books for bacon, butter and sugar rations. Delays were caused at shops because many customers had failed to write their name and address in the ration book.
9/9/1939 In response to the War, Britain re-established a Ministry of Food.
6/1939, In Britain, as hostilities loomed in Europe, the Women’s Land Army was reconstituted.
3/5/1939, British farmers were urged to plough up grassland to increase food production.
4/6/1937. The first supermarket trolleys were wheeled out
at a Standard Supermarket in
10/5/1937, Britain’s first frozen food, asparagus, went on sale. It was produced by Smedleys of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.
26/3/1937. Spinach growers in Crystal City, Texas, erected a statue of Popeye.
24/1/1935. Beer was first sold in cans, in
1933, Ritz Crackers went on sale in the US.
12/1931, Winston Churchill wrote in Strand Magazine “Fifty years hence we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium”.
23/2/1931, Dame Nellie Melba, the Australian opera singer after whom peach melba is named, died.
10/1/1931. Molotov announced the
1930, In the US, it took 0.25 man hours to produce 1 bushel of wheat. This was down from 0.87 man hours in 1920, 0.5 man hours in 1896, and 3 man hours in 1830.
12/3/1930, Ghandi began a 300-mile march to the sea to protest at the British salt tax in India.
6/3/1930. The first frozen food, peas, went on sale, at
grocery stores in
13/1/1930. Two million Chinese had died of starvation and famine
threatened millions more. China was in political chaos as Chiang Kai Shek tried to
establish nationalist rule against the Communists.
3/1/1930. Stalin collectivised all farms in the USSR.
11/4/1929, Popeye the cartoon
character first appeared in a comic strip in a
1928, The first commercially-viable, stable, peanut butter went on sale.
20/12/1928. Harry Ramsden started his first fish and chip restaurant in a hut near Bradford, West Yorkshire, which soon became the most famous in the world.
6/1926, The first toaster with a thermostat and timer was produced. Earlier toasters did not eject the bread automatically and had to be watched or the toast was burnt. The innovation of sliced bread, with its standard-sized slice, helped make toasters more popular.
1925, US refrigerator sales were 75,000 this year, compared to 10,000 in 1920,
30/4/1925. The Distillers Whisky Group was formed.
1924, The average American consumed, over the year, 17.8 lbs of butter, 6.8 lbs of ice cream, 4.5 lbs of cheese and 350 lbs of milk.
29/1/1924. The ice cream cone making machine was patented by Carl Taylor.
10/12/1923, The Kraft Company started as National Dairy Products Corporation (National Dairy), formed on December 10, 1923, by Thomas H. McInnerney.
24/3/1923. The salt tax in India was restored.
1921, The British Medical Association estimated that a family of five needed to spend 22s 6 ½ d on food to eat healthily; however Unemployment Benefit was just 29s 3d a week, and the poorest slum accommodation still cost 6s a week tor ent.
12/3/1921. Lenin announced that state planning of the economy will end and free enterprise would be permitted. This was a move forced by the Russian famine on 1921. The famine was caused by a drought in 1920 which wiped out the crops but revolution and civil war exacerbated the situation. The USA responded to Lenin’s appeal and sent 800,000 tons of food.
21/12/1920, Widespread famine in China 7/11/1920 to 21/12/1920.
11/1919, A year after World War One ended, the Women’s Land Army was disbanded.
14/5/1919. Death of
the American food manufacturer Henry John Heinz. Heinz founded his company in
Pittsburgh in 1869 as a partnership to market and prepare horseradish. This company collapsed in
the business panic of 1875 but Heinz reorganised it in 1876 and it re-emerged
as a major food company by 1900. By 1905 the Heinz company was the
1918, The German chemist Fritz Haber received the Nobel Prize for discovering, in 1908, how to synthesise ammonia directly from hydrogen and nitrogen. This greatly increased fertiliser production, leading to a huge increase in global food production.
25/2/1918. Rationing of meat,
butter, and margarine began in
23/1/1918, The UK Government ordered restaurants to have two ‘meatless’ days a week.
1/1/1918, Sugar rationing began in Britain.
31/12/1917, During the year 1917 German submarines sank 6,500,000 tons of Allied shipping whilst only 2,700,000 tons was built. In April 1917 Britain had only two months’ worth of food stocks. However with US destroyer patrols searching for German submarines, escorted transatlantic convoys and the mining of the seas between Scotland and Norway, Allied losses were dramatically reduced and after April 1918 never exceeded 200,000 tons a month.
2/1917, In Britain the Women’s Land Army (WLA) was set up, to boost domestic food production whilst the men were away fighting in the trenches. The UK Government promoted a ‘voluntary rationing’ scheme. By 1918 the WLA had 20,000 volunteers, doing dairy work, ploughing, and tree felling.
2/1917, The ‘Turnip Winter’ in central Europe; food shortrages caused many deaths.
29/9/1916, The British Government asked people to observe a ‘meatless day’ to prevent food price rises.
6/9/1916, US retailer Clarence Saunders opened the first Piggly Wiggly supermarket, in Memphis, Tennessee.
1/7/1916. Coca Cola introduced its distinctively-shaped bottle
8/2/1916. Food shortages caused riots in Berlin. Food
rationing began in
13/9/1915. The process for making cornflakes was patented by Frank Martin. The previous combination of corn, oats, and grain proved indigestible for the public.
6/3/1912, The National Biscuit Company (now Nabisco) introduced the Oreo cookie.
18/10/1911, Wrigleys launched their Spearmint Gum in the UK. They set up a factory in Wembley in 1927, moving to Plymouth in 1970.
31/1/1910. Britain and
10/4/1909. British forces
1908, Production of Horlicks began at Slough, UK.
1908, Monosodium glutamate was first used to enhance savoury tastes in Japan.
29/12/1908, Dr Magnus Pyke, nutritional scientist, was born.
23/5/1908, Famine in Uganda killed 4,000.
3/4/1907. Russia reported that 20 million people were starving in the worst famine on record.
1/1/1907. In China, 4 million people were starving due to heavy rains and crop failure.
1906, In the USA, a Presidential Commission reported on the insanitary conditions prevailing in the Chicago meat trade, first exposed in Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel, The Jungle. Congress later passed the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drugs Act, establishing the Food and Drugs Administration.
19/2/1906. The American, William Kellogg, formed the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company of Michigan to market to the public the breakfast cereal he had invented as a health food for mental patients 30 years earlier with his brother John Kellogg. John, a Seventh Day Adventist, had claimed the new food would curb the sex drive but the latest adverts failed to mention that.
30/12/1905, A revolt in Moscow was brutally suppressed.
2/9/1905. Russia suffered its worst famine since 1891. Several million people died.
23/7/1904. The first ice cream
cone was made, by Charles Menches in
13/12/1903. Ice cream cones were patented by Italo
1902, The US Federal Government raised the tax on magarine fivefold, from 2c to 10c per lb; this resulted in consumption falling by 50% by 1904.
5/10/1902, Ray Kroc, businessman who developed the McDonalds chain, was born (died 1984)
6/1/1901, Philip Amour, one of the first American meat packers to use refrigerated transport and to make canned meat products, died.
1900, US farms possessed 15.5 million draught horses, up from 6.2 million in 1860. Between 1860 and 1900 the US ploughed up 400 million acres of previously uncultivated land. The flood of cheap US cereals into Europe caused the profitability of Norwegian farms, already marginal economically, to collapse and precipitated a flood of Norwegian migration to the US. In England many grain farmers were forced to convert to fruit or dairy. The Netherlands farming sector, which had always specialised in dairy, fruit and vegetables, was less affected by the US cheap grain exports. Denmark began to specialise in bacon production, which they could readily export to the UK. After the US, the Ukraine, Canada and Australia provided Europe with cheap grain.
1900, The Dutch nutmeg monopoly was broken, by pigeons. In the late 1800s, nutmeg trees grew only on the Dutch-colonised islands of Ambon and Banda, because Dutch traders had destroyed hutmeg trees elsewhere. This enabled the Dutch to charge high prices for nutmeg. However by 1900 island-hopping pigeons had eaten the nutmeg tree seeds and dropped them on other islands not under Dutch control.
31/12/1900, Wheat acreage in Britain stood at 1.8 million, down from 2.9 million acres in 1880. Cheap imports of wheat from the USA had increased dramatically since the 1870s.
1/12/1900, In Lancashire, 14 died and 2,000 fell ill after drinking beer containing arsenic.
31/8/1900. Coca Cola went on
1899, The United Fruit Company was founded.
5/12/1899, Sir Henry Tate, of Tate and Lyle fame, founder of the Tate gallery, died aged 80.
29/8/1897. A New York chef, to appeal to Chinese and American tastes, devised Chop Suey, meaning ‘various things’, the most famous Chinese dish.
1896, New Zealand lamb could be reared, killed, transported to the UK in frozen cargo ships, and sold to UK retailers for 2 ½ d per lb.
12/3/1894, Coca Cola was sold in bottles for the first time. The Coca Cola trade mark dates from 1887.
1892, French farming was in a relatively undeveloped state, with just one farm in 15 possessing a horse-drawn hoe, and just 1 farm in 150 having a mechanical reaper.
1890, The railways had effectively increased the food supply of major cities such as London, by facilitating the transport of cattle without the loss of weight theu would have incurred by walking. Easily-spoilable foodstuffs such as milk could also now be brought in from a much greater distance.
1890, The first aluminium saucepan was produced at Cleveland, USA, by Henry W Avery.
1889, The first petrol-driven tractor was produced. It weighed around 10 tonnes; by 1902 lighter models weighing under 2 tonnes were available.
10/8/1889. The screw bottle top was patented by Dan Ryelands of Barnsley.
1/5/1889. Asa Briggs Candler of Atlanta bought the exclusive rights to a drink called Coca Cola.
27/3/1889, John Bright, the reformer who worked with Richard Cobden for the repeal of the Corn Laws, died.
1886, US Congress passed the Margarine Act; this imposed a 2 cents per lb tax on margarine and required manufacturers and sellers of margarine to obtain a licence. Individual US States had been restricting margarine sales since 1877, by, for example, prohibiting the addition of yellow colouring. This stopped the margarine being passed off as butter and it was intended that the greyish undyed colour would be off-putting to consumers. The motivation for these laws was the protection of the US dairy cow industry.
9/12/1886, Clarence Birdseye, US inventor of a process for deep-freezing foodstuffs, was born in New York City.
29/3/1886. Coca-cola, invented by Dr John S Pemberton of Atlanta, Georgia, was launched as an ‘esteemed brain tonic and intellectual beverage’. Claimed to cure almost anything from hysteria to the common cold, the beverage faced competition from drinks such as Imperial Inca Cola.
1885, Numbers of bison on the US were down to 2,000, from 15 million in 1860. Many were killed to provide meat for the railway construction gangs. More sinisterly, the bison were killed to remove the Amerindian basis of livelihood; they depended on the bison for food, clothing, shelter and fuel. Amerindian nations were forced onto reservations and sepected to grow crops. However they were used to hunting and saw farming as a lowly occupation; many nations all but died out.
4/9/1885. The world’s first cafeteria opened, in New York.
25/11/1884, John Mayenberg of St Louis, Missouri, patented evaporated milk.
13/5/1884, Cyrus Hall McCormick, inventor of the first successful reaping machine, died in Chicago.
20/10/1883. The Treaty of Ancon finally ended the war between Chile, Peru, and Bolivia, for land in the Atacama Desert, which was rich in nitrates for fertilisers. By the treaty, Peru ceded Tarapaca to Chile, and Chile also kept Tacna and Arica for ten years.
15/2/1882. The first shipment of frozen meat left New Zealand for Britain aboard SS Dunedin.
2/2/1880, The first shipment of frozen meat from Sydney, Australia, arrived in Britain aboard the SS Strathaven.
27/2/1879. Chemists Constantin Fahlberg and Professor Ira Pemson in Baltimore reported the discovery of saccharin, at John Hopkins University, Baltimore.
22/1/1878. Milk was delivered in glass bottles for the first time.
1877, Prices of barbed wire, or ‘the Devil’s rope’ stood at 8 cents per pound in the USA, down from 18 cents in 1876, as the Bessemer steel process invented in 1856 was used to produce the wire. This invention was crucial in facilitating cattle farming in the US mid-west, where fencing materials were scarce. Sales of barbed wire soared from 840,000 lbs in 1876 to 12.86 million lbs, or around 5,500 tons. One ton of barbed wire equated to 2 miles of three-strand fencing. US sales of barned wire further rose to 26.7 million lbs in 1878, 50.3 million lbs in 1879, 80.5 million lbs in 1880 and 120 million lbs in 1881.
1877, In Denmark, Gustav de Laval invented a mechanical cream separator, greatly reducing production costs.
1873, The Chivers family began a jam factory near Cambridge.
1873, The emancipation of slaves in Louisiana had resulted in a drop in sugar production to less than one third of its 1853 level. In many areas, rice had been substituted as a crop for sugar cane, as it was less labour intensive,
1872, The world’s first magarine factory was built, in Germany.
9/7/1872. John Blondel patented the first doughnut cutter in America. A sea captain, he is said to have invented the hole so he could slip the doughnut over the handle of the ship’s wheel and enjoy his snack whilst steering.
1871, Imports of Australian canned meat into the UK had risen from 16,000 lbs to 22 million lbs. This was partly down to an epidemic of cattle disease in the UK, 1863-67; it was more down to the perfection of canning techniques. Early canning techniques involved heating the can to ‘drive off the air’, with a small hole for air expulsion that was then sealed with solder. However it was not the air expulsion that killed the bacteria but the heating; early large cans were heated insufficiently for this, and their contents putrefied. Once the heating was perfected, it was much easier to transport canned meat by ship than livestock, which could become injured in a storm, diseased, and required food and water.
1870, In the US, 30 million cans of food were being produced a year, up from 5 million in 1860.
15/7/1869. Hippolyte Mege Mouries of Paris patented margarine in France.
24/11/1868, London’s Smithfield Market was opened by the Lord Mayor.
25/6/1867. The first barbed wire was patented by Lucien B Smith of Kent, Ohio. The barbs protruded from small pieces of wood along the wire; this may not have been commercially manufactured but in 1868 a more successful design was commercially produced. This invention was vital for opening up the American west to ranchers since there was insufficient wood for cattle fencing. Barbed wire for defence was first used by American troops in the Spanish – American War of 1898. However cowboys lost out because their cattle-herding services were ;less oin demand. Bigger losers were the American Indians, whose hunting spaces were carved up by the new enclosures. Wildlife also suffered, with many animals becoming entangled on the wire.
1863, In the UK, the first National Food Survey was conducted. 370 familes of the ‘labouring classes’ were questioned on their daily diet.
15/5/1862, The US Department of Agriculture was created.
30/9/1861, William Wrigley junior, who popularised chewing gum, was born this day.
7/4/1860, Birth of William Kellogg, inventor of breakfast cereal, originally used in the treatment of mental patients.
1858, Meat carcasses slaughtered at Aberdeen were now being shipped to London’s Smithfield Market, 515 miles away; the meat arrived within 24 hours of slaughter, and was far juicier and fattier than if it had been driven alive as in pre-railway days. See 1732.
18/8/1856. Condensed milk was patented.
1853, Crisps were invented by an American-Indian chef in a hotel in New York State, when his customers complained that his potato chips were cut too thickly. So he cut the potatoes wafer-thin. Crisps reached the UK in 1913.
10/5/1850, Sir Thomas Lipton, British grocer and philanthropist, was born in Glasgow.
23/9/1848. Chewing gum was commercially produced for the first time. It was called ‘State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum’.
1847, The Vegan Society held its first annual general meeting in Manchester, UK.
21/9/1847, Sir Richard Powell, agriculturalist, was born.
28/1/1847. Severe depression, unemployment, and food shortages provoked rioting amongst agricultural workers in central France. See 27/2/1848.
29/6/1846. The protectionist wing of the Tory Party, led by Benjamin Disraeli, which was bitterly opposed to the repeal of the Corn Laws, mounted a revolt against Robert Peel’s Tory government, forcing Peel to resign as Prime Minister.
25/6/1846. Britain repealed the Corn Laws after a 5 month debate in Parliament. Import duties on wheat, oats, and barley were to be scrapped in 3 years, and meanwhile set at a nominal rate only, of one shilling a quarter. This was opposed by Tory protectionists, but the Irish potato famine in 1845 added urgency to the repeal. Bread would now be cheaper but the farming of the landed estates less profitable. The Irish potato blight spread from America and first appeared in the UK in the Isle of Wight. Hot dry weather in July gave way to chilly rain and fog, and the potatoes soon rotted. 4 million people in Ireland and 2 million in Britain relied almost totally on potatoes for food. Public works schemes were devised for some 750,000 workers which meant 3 million people relied on these for income. Many Irish migrated to the USA, even though the voyage was almost as deadly as the famine; one in six died on the voyage across the Atlantic. The Irish blamed English oppression for the famine even though England had provided almost £8million in relief.
1845, In the UK, the invention of a clay pipe making machine enabled marshy land to be drained and improved for agriculture.
11/3/1845, Self-raising flour was patented by Henry Jones of Bristol.
1844, Milk reached Manchester (UK) by rail for the first time. Growing urban populations, distant from the countryside, could now receive fresh milk and other produce that was both fresh and cheap. Fresh vegetables, meat and fish supplies were niw improved in cities.
11/10/1844. The baked beans magnate H J Heinz was born of German parents in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
29/4/1842, In Britain the Corn Act was passed, setting up a sliding scale relating to the price of domestic corn at which foreign corn imports were allowed.
1840, Justus von Leibig published his book, ‘Chemistry in its Application to Agriculture’, an important advance in scientific farming.
1840, A US farmer could produce 100 bushels of wheat in 233 man-hours, down from 300 man-hours in 1831. By 1920 it took just 87 man-hours.
18/9/1838, The Anti-Corn-Law League was established by Richard Cobden.
1837, The Royal Agricultural Society was founded in Britain, promoting new ideas and technology in farming.
14/3/1836. Isabella Mary Mayson, who became Mrs Beeton of cookery book fame, was born in Heidelberg.
1834, Click here for weekly menu for inmates of Stafford Union Workhouse, UK. Source, p.52, Poverty & Public Health 1815-1948, Heinemann, Essex, UK, 2001. See also price and economy, 1834 and other dates, for more UK on workhouses.
1834, The first prototype refridgerator was invented, designed by Jacob Perkins.
21/6/1833. An automatic grain reaping machine was invented in the USA by Cyrus Hall McCormick.
16/5/1832, Philip Armour, American meat packer, was born in Stockbridge, New York.
16/8/1819. At St Peters Fields, or Peterloo, Manchester, a meeting demanding parliamentary reforms was dispersed by the military. There was a crowd of 60,000 present to hear the speech of the pugnacious reformer Henry Hunt, who also demanded an end to the Corn Laws. 11 demonstrators were killed and 600 injured by the Manchester Yeomanry. After this the UK government issued the Six Laws, in 1819, banning any gathering of over 50 people, and any flag-bearing procession, authorising the arrest of anyone carrying a firearm, and imposing a tax on newspapers.
1815, Most land that could feasibly be used for agriculture in Britain was already in use. In 1795 the UK Board of Agriculture had claimed that a further 8 million acres (3.25 million hectares) of land was available for agriculture, but by 1815 most moorland and waste left was iuncultivable. During the French Napoleonic Wars domestic food production was a priority; chalkland and moorland was brought into food production in areas sich as the New Forest and Dartmoor, then subsequently abandoned.
23/3/1815, In Britain, the Corn Laws halted the imports of grain.
17/2/1815. Corn Laws introduced in Britain.
27/11/1811, Andrew Meikle, Scottish agricultural engineer, inventor of the threshing machine in 1786, died in Dunbar, East Lothian.
15/2/1809, Cyrus Hall McCormick, American inventor of the first mechanical crop reaper, was born in Rockbridge county, Virginia.
3/7/1806. Michael Keen, of Isleworth, exhibited the first edible cultivated strawberry.
7/2/1804, John Deere, manufacturer of agricultural equipment, was born in Vermont.
1800, Agricultural productivity had improved in Britain; one agricultural worker could now feed 2.5 people, as against 1.7 in 1700.
8/1/1800, The first soup kitchens for the poor opened in London, UK.
14/6/1798. A clergyman first produced whisky distilled from maize. The Reverend Elijah Craig called the liquor Bourbon because he lived in Bourbon County, Kentucky.
26/6/1797. Charles Newbold patented the cast iron plough.
23/5/1795, In Paris troops suppressed a riot caused by food shortages.
1/4/1795, Martial law was declared in Paris as food shortages sparked riots.
1762, The French (re)invented pate de foie gras. This dish had been known to the ancient Egyptians.
1756, The Duc de Richelieu invented mayonnaise.
21/2/1741, The agricultural pioneer Jethro Tull, who invented the seed drill around 1701, died near Hungerford, Berkshire, aged 67. He was inspired to develop the seed drill by the pipes of the church organ he played on Sundays. He also pioneered crop rotation, developing a new hoe for planting turnips between the grain crops; turnips meant winter feed, so more manure, so more fertile soil that didn’t need a whole year fallow to recover. Turnips also provided winter feed for cattle, so removing the need to slaughter most of the herd in autumn; this meant larger cattle could be produced for market.
1735, Annual gin production in England reached 5.4 million gallons, nearly one gallon for every man, woman and child. Drunkeness was widespread, as typified by Hogarth’s illustrations.
1732, The average bullock sold at London’s Smithfield Market weighed 250kg, as against 168 kg just 22 years earlier in 1710. In the absence of rail transport, cows and sheep destined for consumption in London, which originated in Ireland, Scotland and Wales, had to be driven on foot overland. Those from Ireland were landed at Holyhead and then made to swim the kilometre of water across the Menai Strait. They were droven to the Barnet area, just north of London, where they were fattened up. However their meat was generally tough, and expensive. See 1858.
1716, French scientist Daubenton published his book ‘Advice to Shepherds and Owners of Flocks’.
1716, Swedish engineer Martin Triewald installed the first hot water based heating system in an English greenhouse. Tropical plants could now be better cultivated.
1701 Jethro Tull, a Berkshire farmer, invented the seed drill machine. This sowed seeds in straight lines, eliminating much wastage and making it easier to keep weeds down. Farm workers were apprehensive of reduced employment and some went on strike against the new machine.
22/9/1699, Citizens of Rotterdam went on strike over the high price of butter.
1686, ‘Cordon Bleu’ cookery originated in the Institut de Saint-Louis, founded by Madame Maintenon for 250 daughters of impoverished nobility, especially titled army officers. The school became famous for its cookery lessons, and the girls who graduated from there wore blue ribbons )cordon bleu) as part of the graduation uniform.
1683, A Christian reformer, Thomas Tryon, first advocated vegetarianism, on the grounds of the cruelty of slaughtering farm animals.
28/6/1682. Dom Perignon, a blind Benedictine cellarman at Hautevilliers Abbey, invented Champagne.
9/4/1626 The statesman and philosopher Francis Bacon died near Highgate, London, (as Lord Verulam) of bronchitis. This was brought on by a cold caught whilst stuffing a fowl with snow to observe the effects of cold in preserving meat.
1621, It was reckoned in England that 3,000 tons of spices could be purchased in India for £91,041 but this shipload could be sold in Aleppo for £789,168. By the time the spices had been sold on via Venetian merchants the price had risen still further. Shipping had now improved to the point where a vessel could tackle the open seas to reach the Spice Islands, and a three-masted design meant oars were unnecessary.
1608, Earliest recorded use of the fork, in Italy, by Thomas Coryate. Before this time, people cut meat with a knife then ate with their fingers. However in northern Europe most people continued to carve meat with a knife but eat with their fingers (or use a piece of bread and a spoon) until after 1700.
1599, England faced a rise in pepper prices from three shillings a pound to eight shillings (see 1594, also restricted trade since Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453). This inspired 80 London merchants to estanlish the East India Company, which ultimately led to the creation of the British Empire.
1596, Tomatoes introduced to England.
1594, Lisbon closed its spice market to Dutch and English traders; at this time Portugal was in personal union with Spain, both being ruled by Philip II, and England was helping the Dutch to gain independecnce from Spain. This forced traders from those countries to get their spices directly from India, and the creation of the Dutch East India Company followed.
16/9/1542, The French King, Francois I, was prescribed a new food by his Ottoman Turkish doctor. This food was yoghurt.
30/5/1539, Hernando de Soto landed in Florida, with 600 soldiers, in search of gold. He also introduced pigs into North America.
1524, Turkeys (originally from South America) eaten in England for the first time.
1514, Pineapples first arrived in Europe.
Ca.1510. The Abbey of Fecamp, established around 665, had a monk, Dom Bernardo Vincelli, who dabbled in chemistry. He experimented with the production of medicinal beverages and invented the Benedictine liqueur. In the Revolution of 1793 the Abbey was swept away and the monks dispersed.
23/5/1498. Vasco da Gama arrived at Calicut, southern India, after discovering a route via the tip of southern Africa. , proving the feasibility of a sea route from Portugal to India and the Spice Islands. This meant Europe could buy spices independent from Venetian and Muslim middlemen.
1/6/1495, Friar John Cor recorded the first known batch of Scotch whisky.
1492, Christopher Columbus discovered foods unknown in Europe, including capsicums (peppers), maize, pineapples, plantains, sweet potatoes and turtle meat.
1481, Frankfurt, Germany, passed an edict against the pig-sties that had proliferated in front of hosues, cluttering the streets. Wandering urban pigs, however, performed a useful urban service, clearing refuse and providing meat, and the edict appears to have been widely ignored.
1345, London’s poulterers (chicken sellers), based in Leadenhall Market, successfully campaigned for an edict against selling chickens elsewhere in London. Hen-wifes had previously been bringing in chickens and selling them door to door, saving householders the trouble of going to Leadenhall Market to buy poultry.
1316. England faced famine after torrential rain ruined the harvest. A wet Autumn 1314 was followed by a wet Summer in 1315. Only the West Country escaped disaster. On the estates of Bolton Priory in the North, wheat yields were one fifth of normal. Another wet Summer followed in 1316. There was also a shortage of salt, causing disease in farm animals, as the salt pans failed to evaporate. On the Clipston Estate in Nottinghamshire, half the sheep died. Taxes were also heavy, to finance military campaigns against the Scots, alms were cut. In Berwick the starving infantry garrison mutinied, and in Sandwich a wheat ship was attacked by a mob.
15/11/1315. A small army of Swiss foot soldiers routed a Hapsburg army sent to bring the valleys of central Switzerland under Hapsburg rule at the Battle of Morgarten. The Hapsburgs had for long had manorial rights in these valleys but not political control. The Swiss had begun to assert their political independence, fortifying the entrances of the valleys. This conflict was precipitated by a dispute over grazing rights; the men of Schwyz attacked an abbey and took some of the monks hostage.
1301, Chinese recipes included wheat gluten as an ingredient in mock-meat dishes that in fact were meat-free.
1290, Advice on Italian table manners included washing one’s hands before a meal (when forks were not in use and people might carve meat with a knife but then eat with their fingers). Even more important was not to scratch one’s bare skin and then carry on eating (withone’s bare hands). Lice and fleas were very prevalent; it was good manners, if scratching an itch was unavoidable, to take a portion of one’s clothes and scratch with that. Also very frowned upon was the habit of scratching out one’s ears and then continuing eating.
1250, Ravioli, in the form of cheese sauce contained in parcels of pasta, was now being consumed in Rome.
1249, A Mediaeval northern European town of 3,000 people consumed 1,500 tons of grain annually, which would require 10,000 acres (40 square kilometres) of agricultural land.
1200, New foods brought back to Europe from the East by the Crusaders included damson trees, rice, sugar and lemons, as well as cotton.
1154, The English wine industry began to decline as cheaper French wines were introduced by Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of the new King Henry II of England. In turn the availability of Baltic grain via the Hanseatic League had reduced the revenue from grain production in France, allowing vine growing to expand.
1100, The first Crusaders brought back spices from southern Asia, and the knowledge of how to use them in cooking.
Palm Sunday, 1098. The first Cistercian Abbey was founded, in a desolate swamp 14 miles from Dijon. The Cistercian order monks ‘subject themselves to severe discipline, eating no meat or fat, wearing no comfortable clothing such as breeches or coats. They observed strict silence as they work, and abhored sloth. They did not use slave labour and they did much of their own farming and were skilled at building and civil engineering.
4/6/1070. Roquefort cheese was created in a cave near Roquefort, France.
929, A second great famine struck Spain; an earlier one had occurred in 919.
857, The first recorded outbreak of ergotism; a disease causded by eating fungally-contaminated rye. Thousands were killed, in the Rhine Valley.
827, Spinach was introduced into Sicily by the Saracens, who originally found the plant growing in Persia.
732, Pope Gregory II ordered Christians in Germany to desist from eating horse flesh. This would mark them out as dofferent from the pagan tribes, who ate horsemeat as part of their pagan rites.
550, The Slavs of north-east Europe introduced an improved plough that could tackle heavy clay lands; areas of forest now became useable as farmland. However unlike the old scratch plough that could be pulled by a single animal or even a human, the new plough required a team of six to eight oxen. Therefore less affluent farmers either had to form co-operatives to afford this, or were squeezed out by wealthier landowners.
19/10/439. The Vandals, led by King Gaiseric, took Carthage. Gaiseric brought 80,000 people with him across the Straits of Gibraltar from Spain in 429, including 15,000 soldiers; he then marched east along the North African coast, looting the cites there. With the loss of its African territories Rome lost the fertile wheat lands on which the Empire depended for its bread. Local Roman administrators remained and Roman law was maintained, to the benefit of the Vandals, who lived in unaccustomed luxury in the Roman villas. The Vandals were Arians and persecuted the Catholic Christians. Gaiseric began to build a fleet of fast ships to dominate the western Mediterranean.
406, Butter was introduced into the Roman Empire by invading Vandals, Aland and Sciri; it replaced olive oil.
400, A recipe for mustard appeared in De re coquinaria, an anonymously compiled Roman cookbook.
300, The average citizen of Rome breakfasted on bean stew and then unleavened bread, toasted on cinders, with milk or honey. At midday, lunch consisted of fruit, a sweet confection, fruit, cheese and watered wine (the prandium). The evening meal, or convivium, might include meat, fish, cereals, porridge, and onions fried in oil and seasoned with chickpeas and vinegar.
1 BCE, The Romans utilised blood and bones as fertiliser, and grew clover and alfalfa, but disdained the use of excerement as fertiliser. However some Romans were aware of the improvements in fertility resulting from dung-spreading.
24 BCE, Concerned about the high price of spices in Rome, Emperor Augustaus made preparations for invading and incorporating into the Roman Empire the lands of southern Arabia where these spices originated. However due to poor roads and fatigue the proposed invasion failed.
70 BCE, Cherries from the newly conquered lands of Armenia wer introduced to Rome by Lucullus. By 65 BCE Rome was consuming raspberries from Mount Ida (near Troy), quinces from Sidon and plums from Damascus.
123 BCE, As the cost of living soared in Rome, Gaius Gracchus began seeling subsidised grain, for bread, from the State granaries.
140 BCE, Rome began to establish links with China, as China sent its emissary Chang Ch’ien into Sogdiana and Bactria. Peach and apricot trees from China had now reached Roma, also Chinese silk; meanwhile China began importing grapes, walnuts and dates from the west.
185 BCE, With the Roman conquest of Syria, luxurious eastern eating habits began to permeate Roman culture. Meals became more elaborate and expensive, and cooks became elevated from lowly slaves to professionals.
300 BCE, Peach trees, originally from China, had reached Greece via Persia.
300 BCE, The poor of Athens subsisted mainly on beans, greens, beechnuts, turnips, wild pears, dried figs, barley, and grasshoppers. Welfare assistance was sporadic and nugatory.
430 BCE, Black pepper, originally from India, was common in Greece. However it was used medicinally rather than to season food.
500 BCE Wet rice cultivation began in Japan,
800 BCE, Rice was now a major part of the Chinese diet (see 2300 BCE).
1400 BCE, Domestication of poultry began in China, descended from the Guinea Fowl of the Malay Peninsula.
1500 BCE, By now all the major food plants in use in the 21st century, excepting sugar beet, were being cultivated somewhere in the world.
1700 BCE, Rye cultivation began in eastern Europe, where the growing season was too short for dependable wheat cultivation.
1,800 BCE, Taboos against eating pork began to spread amongst some Middle-Eastern peoples. This might have been because they were nomadic shephereds, and pork was eaten by their farmer enemies. However archeological evidence suggests that Egyptian peasants kept pigs as late as 1350 BCE.
2,000 BCE, In Egypt, attempts to domesticate antelope, oryx and gazelle were abandoned in favour of cultivation of celery, lotus, and other plant foods, also hunting and fishing, in the Nile Delta. Watermelons were being cultivated in Africa, figs in Saudi Arabia, and bananas were being grown in India.
2,200 BCE, In China, dogs, goats, oxen, pigs and sheep were now domesticated; grain was being milled.
2,300 BCE, Rice cultivation, imported from the Indus Valley, began in northern China (see 800 BCE).
2,475 BCE, Maize cultivation began in Central America. Olive trees were cultivated in Crete, which grew wealthy on the export of olive oil and timber.
2,600 BCE, Oxen were being harnessed to ploughs in the Middle east, greatly improving agricultural productivity. In Egypt, fish and poultry were being preserved by sun-drying.
2,800 BCE, The sickle was in use in Sumeria for grain harvesting.
3,000 BCE, In Sumeria, foods recorded by Gilgamesh included capers, cucucmbers, figs, grapes, honey, meat seasoned wth herbs, and bread. The sickle, a small curved hand tool for harvesting grain, was invented; the scythe was developed from this.
4,350 BCE, The horse was domesticated in Europe, providing agricultural power and transportation.
5,500 BCE, The world’s first irrigation system constructed, in Mesopotamia. Early irrigation tended to salinize the soil after some centuries of usage, rendering the region infertile.
6,500 BCE, Cattle (aurochs) became the last major food animal to be domesticated, in central Europe.
7,000 BCE, Pigs were first domesticated, in Greece. They were less useful than goats or sheep, because they gave no milk or textiles, need shade, and cannot eat grass or straw, only scraps of food that humans themselves eat, such as nuts or old meat. However pigs could eat food that had spoiled, and convert this into edible meat and fertiliser (dung). Sedentary agriculture had now spread to SE Europe.
7,700 BCE, Sheep milk first consumed as food, in the Middle East. By 7,200 BCE sheep were domesticated in Greece.
8,500 BCE, Goat milk first consumed as a food, in the Middle East.
9,000 BCE, Einkorn wheat cultivation began in northern Syria. Sheep were now domesticated in northern Mesopotamia.
10,000 BCE, The goat was first domesticated, in the Middle East. Sedentary agriculture first began in the world, in the Middle East.
12,000 BCE, The dog was first domesticated, from the common Asian wolf, and used for hunting game, and, later, herding domesticated animals such as sheep. The domestication of dogs for hunting reached Britain by 7,000 BCE.
Appendix 1 - Bananas
8/3/1946, In Covent Garden, London, bananas went on sale for the first time since the War.
30/12/1945, The SS Tilapia docked in Bristol with the first cargo of bananas to enter the UK since the War, since 11/1940, when the UK Government banned all fruit imports except oranges.
1944, The Chiquita banana company was established.
1866, Bananas were introduced to the USA. Only from the 1880s, with the advent of refrigerated ships, did mass imports of these tropical fruits become feasible.
10/4/1633. Bananas were displayed for the first time in a London shop window.
1482, The Portuguese, sailing along the west coast of Africa, became the first Europeans to discover bananas.
Appendix 2 - Bread
25/7/1948. Bread rationing ended in Britain.
21/7/1946. Bread rationing began in Britain because of a world shortage of wheat, caused by a poor harvest and shortages of transport and fertilisers.
30/5/1946. In the UK, the Labour Minister of Food, John Strachey, announced that bread would be rationed. The greatest allowance would go to manual workers in heavy industry.
6/4/1942, According to an order made by the UK Government on 6/3/1942, it was now illegal to bake white bread in the UK.
7/7/1928, Sliced bread was first produced.
2/5/1917, King George V called for national restraint in bread consumption.
2/2/1917, In the UK, bread rationing began.
1891, Britain’s frst white bread was produced at the Clarence Flour Mill, erected this year in Hull. The mill became part of Rank Hovis McDougall in 1962.
19/2/1855. Bread riots broke out in Liverpool.
123 BCE, Rome began to intervene in the grain market so as to distribute grain to peasant households at below market rate or even for free.
170 BCE, The first commercial cooks appeared in Rome, as retail bakers. However most Roman households continued to grind their own corn and make their own bread.
350 BCE, First references to wheat cultivation in Greece, for making bread. Wheat had originated in Egypt.
1680 BCE, Production of leavened (raised) bread began in Egypt.
Appendix 3 - Chocolate
17/3/2010, Kraft Foods said it was "truly sorry" over its closure of Cadbury's Somerdale Factory. Senior Kraft executive Marc Firestone made the public apology to MPs at a parliamentary select committee hearing
19/1/2010, Cadbury approved a revised offer from Kraft, valuing the confectionery business at $19.5 billion (£11.5 billion).
3/5/2002. Research showed Britons increasingly spending on comfort items such as chocolate, desserts, and wine, to relieve stress. Spending on these items was running at £2 million an hour.
26/4/1988. The Swiss food giant Nestle bid £2.1 billion for the York confectioners, Rowntree. On 23/6/1988 Rowntree accepted a £2.55 billion bid from Nestle. Nestle already owned 12% of Rowntree, and Suchard owned 29.9% of Rowntree. Both Swiss companies wanted Rowntree, maker of brands like Kit Kat, Quality Street, and Smarties, as a bridgehead into the European Community.
24/4/1949. Sweets and chocolates came off rations in Britain, but rations were soon re-imposed, see 2/5/1952. All food rationing ended on 3/7/1954.
1/8/1932. The first Mars Bar,
1930, In the USA, Snickers Bars (Mars Bars in the UK) were introduced.
1925, Clarence Birsdeye extended his frozen food process from fish to pre-cooked foods.
24/2/1925, Joseph Rowntree, chocolate
1923, The Milky Way chocolate bar was introduced in the USA. Sales went from US$78,200 in the first year of sales to US$ 792,000 in the second year.
24/10/1922, George Cadbury, English chocolate manufacturer and social reformer,
1905, Milton Hershey, a Mennonite from Penssylvania, established a chocolate-manufacturing town, called Hershey. Chocolate was manufactured on the mass-production model of Henry Ford.
13/9/1857, Birth of William Snaveley Hershey, US chocolate manufacturer who built the world’s largest chocolate factory. He also established the Hershey Foundation, to promote education.
19/9/1839. George Cadbury was born in Birmingham. He expanded his father’s chocolate business and established a model village for his workers at Bourneville, Birmingham. The Cadbury chocolate manufacturing family owed a debt to the collector Sir Hans Sloane, who died on 11/1/1753.
24/5/1836, Joseph Rowntree, British cocoa manufacturer and philanthropist, was born in York
1826, Philippe Suchard set up a chocolate factory near Neuchatel, Switzerland.
1787, Joseph Fry, a Quaker, started a chocolate manufacturing business in Bristol.
11/1/1753. Death at age 93 of the collector Sir Hans Sloane. Born in County Down, Ireland in 1660, Sloane studied in London and France before finally settling in London as a physician. He was famous for his collection of plants, antiquities, cons, and some 50,000 books and 3,650 manuscripts that were to form the nucleus of the British Museum collection after his death. In Jamaica in 1685-6 he had collected a herbarium of 800 species. The Birmingham chocolate manufacturers, the Cadbury family, owe Sloane a debt for while in Jamaica he came across a cocoa drink favoured by the locals which Sloane found nauseous. However if mixed with milk it became more palatable. He brought this back to England where it was used by the Cadbury family.
1659, The Spanish Infanta Maria Theresa introduced cocoa to Paris.
16/6/1657, The first mention of chocolate in the British media, in the Public Advertiser. The foodstuff was then used either as a drink or as a paste for brewing a tasty but rather greasy beverage, as the ground beans were rich in cocoa butter. At that time it was being sold by a Frenchman in Bishopsgate, London. The first factory to produce chocolate bars opened at Vevey, Switzerland, in 1819; the bars were used as emergency rations. In 1842 John Cadbury introduced ‘French Eating Chocolate’, the first chocolate bar for pleasurable eating. Cadbury also introduced the first chocolate boxes to Britain, in 1866. Their first assortment included almond, lemon, orange and raspberry flavoured centres. Also in 1866 Cadbury introduced the first modern cocoa powder, with all the greasy butter removed, for an improved chocolate drink.
1520, Chocolate first brought to Europe, to Spain, from Mexico.
Appendix 4 - Fish
5/2/2004, 20 Chinese cockle pickers drowned in Morecambe Bay, Lancashire.
1955, Frozen fish fingers first appeared in British shops. See 8/10/1973.
1924, In the USA, Clarence Birdseye founded the General Seafoods Company, to prepare and sell frozen fish.
10/5/1883, In London, the Lord Mayor opened the Central Fish Market, Farringdon Street.
1870, Fish and chip shops became popular in Britain as refrigerated trawlers were developed that fished the North Sea and more distant areas north towards Iceland. The fish was covered in batter to disguise any discolouration, and sprinkled with vinegar to cover any spoilage in flavour.
110 BCE, Near Naples, oyster cultivation began; the first efforts by humans to farm marine life.
25,000 BCE, The estimated date of the earliest baited fish hooks. Discovered in the Dordogne, France,these hooks were made of thorn or bone, and designed so when a fish took the bait the fisherman could pull the line taut, catching the hook in the fish’s jaw.
Appendix 5 - Potatoes
17/9/1941. The UK government ordered potatoes to be sold at 1p so more people would eat them.
21/3/1934, The slimming craze was blamed for a fall in UK potato sales.
1817, The first known recipe for potato crisps was published in The Cook’s Oracle.
17/9/1879, The International Potato Exhibition opened at Crystal Palace; thousands flocked to see it.
1688, Potatoes had become a staple food of Iriah farm labourers (see Ireland for famine)
1621, Potatoes first planted in Germany.
28/7/1586. Potatoes arrived in Britain, brought from Colombia by Sir Thomas Harriott. They were to be used to feed livestock.
3,500 BCE, Potatoes first cultivated in South America.
Appendix 6 - Sugar
Growth of annual per-capita sugar consumption, kgs
1980, The flavour ‘salted caramel’ was invented by a French chocolatier, Henri la Roux. This flavour is highly addictive because it combines the taste of sugar, fat and salt. Since 2000 the food industry has added it to a wide range of foodstuffs, not just chocolate and ice cream but in crisps, coffee, tea, vodka and yoghurt.
26/9/1953. Sugar rationing
1951, The Commonwealth Sugar Agreement offered tariff protection to the expensive Caribbean sugar producers (where uneven terrain and unpredictable weather made production more expensive than in the large scale plantations of Brazil). Outdated production methods such as hand-harvesting could persist in the Caribbean. In 2005 the EU began dismantling this guaranteed price.
14/5/1942, Sugar rationing began in the USA.
1900, Sugar consumption in the USA per capita was now 65.2 lbs a year, Global sugar beet production now stood at 5.6 million tons, a figure that would more than quadruple by 1964.
1860, Sugar consumption in Britain was now 34 lbs a year; in Belgium, 21 lbs (mostly in sweetened coffee).
1850, Less than 15% of the global sugar supply now came from sugar beet.
1842, France had nearly 60 sugar beet processing factories, producing around 1 kg of sugar per head per year.
1839, Annual sugar production in Jamaica was down to 20-25,000 tons, from 70,000 tons in 1821, due to the end of slavery.
11/3/1819, Sir Henry Tate, the British sugar magnate and philanthropist whose money and pictures formed the foundation of the Tate Gallery in 1897, was born in Chorley.
1725, Jams made from sugar became popular.
1700, Annual sugar imports into England stood at 10,000 tons, having risen from 88 tons in 1665, as tea consumption (fueleed by cheap sugar) became very popular. Sugar consumption in Britain per capita was now 4 lbs a year.
11/11/1675, Death of Thomas Willis, physician to King Charles II and to the Duke of York. He was the first to notice an increase in what we now know as diabetes amongst his more affluent clients – he called it ‘the pissing evil’. He also noted the very sweet nature of this urine. The wealthy in England were raising their consumption of sugar, now being imported from the Caribbean, both in desserts and in tea.
1623, Brazil had 350 sugar plantations, up from 5 in 1550.
1600, It was discovered that fruit could be preserved with sugar.
1532, Sugar cane first grown in Brazil.
7/6/1494, The Treaty of Tordesillas was signed. In 1493, Pope Alexander VI had set a line at 100 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands from north to south Pole; Spain had the rights to colonise west of this line, Portugal to the east. The 1494 Treaty moved this line a further 270 leagues to the west. This resulted in Portugal having possession of both Brazil and Africa; in turn this greatly facilitated the expansion of the slave trade, providing cheap labour for the sugar plantations.
325 BCE, First reference by the Greeks to sugar cane. Nearchus noted ‘Indian reeds’ that produced honey where there are no bees. The word ‘sugar’ derives from the Arabic ‘sukhar’, which itself derives from the Sanskrit ‘sarkara’, meaning gravel or pebble. The word occurs in Indian literature from ca. 300 BCE, and sugar was now being grown in areas of the Middle East where there was enough water. Sugar was then only affordable by the wealthy.
Appendix 7 - Tea and Coffee See also Prices, (1684 etc)
5/10/1952, In the UK, tea came off-ration.
29/11/1942. In the
1938, Instant coffee was launched in the shops under the name Nescafe. It had been invented in 1937 after 8 years of research at Nestle, Switzerland.
23/10/1933, The first Lyons Corner House opened in London.
2/10/1931, Tea tycoon Sir Thomas Lipton died, aged 81. Born in Glasgow Sir Thomas, a grocer, bought tea. coffee and cocoa plantations in Sri Lanka to supply his shops.
1930, The sugar content of UK-grown sugar beet had been raised to almost 20%, from 7% in the 1880s.
15/4/1929, Chancellor Winston Churchill, in his budget, abolished the 325-year-old tea duty, knocking 4d off the price of a pound of tea.
1919, 1) The iconic Bettys Café in Harrogate was opened.
2) The first teabags went on sale, in the USA. Used initially by the catering trade, they became widely used in the US home from the 1930s. They were only marketed in the UK from 1952, by Tetley.
1896, Tea imports for this year to the UK totalled 227,785,500 lbs. In 1718, 1,000,000 lbs had been imported, and in 1678, just 5,000 lbs.
1894, The first of the famous Lyons teahops opened in the UK, in Piccadilly, London.
1880, Tea consumption per capita in Russia was now 1 lb per capita per annum, see 1800.
1850, Tea was now as popular as coffee in Britain.
1842, Vienna had 15,000 coffee houses. In 1925 Vienna had just 1,250 coffee houses.
1840, Anna, Duchess of Bedford, introduced the idea of afternoon tea to Britain. During the 1700s the upper classes had tended to eat dinner ever later in the evening, which led to the creation of lunch to fill the long gap between breakfast and dinner. However this still left a long interval before dinner whch was now as late as 7 – 9pm. Afternoon tea made a nice refreshment with sandwiches or cakes.
10/1/1839, Indian tea was auctioned for the first time in Britain. Previously, only expensive China tea had been available.
1835, Tea plants taken from China for India.
1800, Tea drinking in Russia was restricted to the wealthy, who saw it as a status symbol; they consumed aboult 1 lb a year per capita. Overall annual consumption was 1.5 oz per capita. See 1880.
1779, During the previous decade, 1770-79, England had imported some 18 million lbs of tea; about 2 lbs per head. Despite its expense it was good value because 1 lb of tea could make nearly 300 cups.
1725, London now had over 2,000 coffee houses, up from 1 in 1652.
1685, Sales of tea, or ‘hay-water’ as it was then known, started to take off in The Netherlands, as the people drank it for general consumpotion, not just as a medicinal tonic as previously. Tea demand in The Netherlands was now 20,000 lbs a year, against 200lbs for the whole of 1656.
1676, First coffee house licenced in Boston, USA.
29/12/1675. The English Parliament ordered the closure of all coffee houses, believing they were centres from which malicious rumours about the government originated.
1671, The first coffee house in France opened in Marseilles. The first one in Paris opened in 1672.
1657, The first tea auction in England.
1652, London’s first coffee house opened, in St Michael’s Alley, Cornhill, under Armenian managenment. Coffee was believed to cure a range of ailments including gout and scurvy.
1650, England’s first coffee house opened, in Oxford, by a Jew from Turkey. Tea reached England for the first time. Chinese tea was very expsnsive at this time, so it was kept in locked wooden or silver boxes, called caddies after the Asian word ‘catty’, a unit of weigh, around 600g, in which tea was sold.
8/12/1644, ‘China drink’, probably tea, was mentioned on a bill in Yorkshire, A bottle of it cost 4 shillings. It was initially viewed as a tonic for the sick.
1636, Tea first reached Paris.
1598, Tea, then called ‘chaa’, from the Chinese name Chiai Catai, was first mentioned in England.
1580, Coffee reached Italy.
1554, The first coffee house in Constantinople opened.
1450, The town of Mocha, south-western Arabia, became the main port for coffee exports.
850, Coffee was discovered (according to legend) when an Arab goatherd, Kaldi, noticed that his goats became frisky whe they chewed the berries of certain bushes.
805, Tea was introduced to Japan, where it was used as a medicine.
708, Tea became popular as a drink in China; it was safer than cold water, which might be contaminated. Tea was also believed to have medicinal benefits.
2,737 BCE, Chinese legend attributes the discovery of tea to the Emperor Shennung.