Chronography of Food Cooking and Refridgeration

Page last modified 21 August 2023


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When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they have no food, they call me a CommunistArchbishop Helder Camara, Brazil.


Microwave Ovens

1979, The first �ready meals� appeared; prepacked prepared meals, sometimes with two or more dishes packed together, that just needed a few minutes in a microwave to make it ready for eating.

1967, The first compact home microwave oven was introduced by Amana Refridgeration, a subsidiary of Raytheon.

1959, The Kew Gardens Hotel, London, became the first British hotel or restaurant to install a microwave oven.

1947, The first commercial microwave ovens were sold (see 8 October 1945). They were 1.7 metres tall and weighed 350 kilograms. They cost US$ 5,000.

8 October 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 if the magnetron was working by putting their finger near it to see if it warmed up.


1956, Tefal produced the frst non-stick pans. Teflon had been discovered back in 1938 to have a very low coefficient of friction and to be resistant to corrosion or heat. In 1954 Marc Gregoire of France thought of using the substance for cooking pans, and set up the Tefal Company in 1955.

1948, The blender, or liquidizer, appeared in kitchens.

2 June 1947, Tupperware sealable plastic containers were patented by Earl Elias Tupper in Massachusetts.

1945, Teflon was invented by Du Pont, USA. It was a thermoplastic resin with a very low coefficient of friction. It remained unknown to most people until it was used for non-stick pans from the 1960s.

1929, The first Aga cookers arrived in the UK. They originated from a laboratory accident which blinded the Swedish engineer and Nobel Prize winner, Gustav Dalen in 1924, who was thereafter confined to his house. He invented a cooker with insulated cast iron firebox, connected to opens and hotplates. These were then produced commercially by the Swedish company, Svenska Aktiebolaget Gasacumulator, hence the acronym Aga,

1918, The electric food mixer was invented by the US firm Universal Company.

1915, Pyrex cookware was developed by the Corning Glassworks in the US. It was developed from a chemical and heat resistant glass developed by Otto Schott at the Schott Glassworks in Germany. The mnanufacturers named it, not after the Greek for �fire�, but because it was first used to make pie dishes.

1913, The Brillo pad was patented and first sold. It was produced in response to complaints about how difficult it was to clean the aluminium pans which were becoming popular at that time.

1910, The kitchenette, a small room in a house or flat combining what was formerly the separate kitchen and pantry, came into use.

1902, The first electric kettles appesared in Britain. They had first been introduced in Chicago in 1894, and then took 12 minutes to boil a pint of water. By 1981 over 75% of British households had an electric kettle, and the fastest could boila pint of water in 96 seconds.

1890, The first aluminium saucepan was produced at Cleveland, USA, by Henry W Avery.



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.

1926, The pop-up toaster was introduced in the USA.

29 May1919, Charles Strite patented a pop up toaster.

1918, The automatic pop-up toaster was patented by US inventor Charles Strite.

1909, General Electric began selling the first electric toaster, which only toasted one side at a time.

1893, The first toaster was made by Crompton and Co, in Britain. It only toasted one side at a time.


Electric Ovens

1919, Belling introduced the Modernette electric cooker. However at this time just 20% of UK homes had mains eolectricity.

1912, Charles Belling invented a practical domestic electric cooker.

1893, The first electric cooker was presented in Chicago.

1891, The first domestic electric oven was produced by the Carpenter Electric Heating Manufacturing Company, Minnesota, USA.

1889, The first electric oven was installed at tte Hotel Bernina, Switzerland, utilising the hotel�s private hydroelectric supply.


Canned food

1927, The wall mounted can opener was invented by the Central States Manufacturing Company, St Louis, USA.

1870, In the USA, William Lyman invented the rotary can opener.

1866, In the USA, J Osterhoudt invented a tin can that could be opened by a key fixed to the top.

1855, Robert Yeates, England, invented the can opener. Food had been canned since 1804 when Frenchman Nicolas Appert invented the canning process, but cans had been opened with a hammer and chisel.

1818, Canned food was first sold in the USA.

1814, The first commercially-sold tinned food in Britain was manufactured by the Donkin-Hall factory.

25 August 1810, Peter Durand received a patent for his invention of the tin can.


Gas cookers See Lighting for gas street lighting.

1851, The first gas cooker was shown at the Great Exhibition.

1826, James Sharp designed a prototype commercial gas stove and installed it at his home in Northampton, UK. Sharp opened a factory to produce these ovens in 1836.

1812, Gas was tested for cooking, but thought to be impractical.

1802, A prototype gas cooker was built and used by the German-born Frederic Albert Winsor, who later brought gas street lighting to London. Gas cookers became widespread in British homes in the 1850s as gas was piped in for lighting.

1802, Count Rumford (Benjamin Thompson) invented a more efficient fire-cooker, having seen that open fire cooking with pots and kettles suspended over, the traditional method, wasted huge amounts of heat that never made it to the food. Rumford created a steel tube 24 inches long and 18 inches diameter, heated from below by a fire, with an outlet at the top for the steam generated in cooking; a protoype oven.

1687, The Reverend John Clayton experimented with gas cooking at a natural gas spring near Wigan, Lancashire, which when lit produced a flame strong enough to boil eggs; he added that 30 years earlier there had been sufficient heat produced to boil a piece of beef.


1682, French physicist Denis Papin invented the pressure cooker, with a safety valve; he called it the �digester�.

25,000 BCE, Humans were digging small pits lined with embers or pebbles heated in fires to cook food. The food may have been covered in leaves or seaweed to prevent scorching.



1971, 69% of UK households possessed a fridge, up from 8% in 1956. This meant chilled or frozen supermarket food became practicable.

1937, Commercial sales of home freezers begin to take off in the USA, but most households still rely on a delivery of ice to freeze their food. In 1937 some 2 million US households possessed an electric refridgerator, but just only 3,000 UK homes had this appliance.

1929, US refrigerator sales passed 800,000, with the average price of a fridge now US$ 292, down from US$ 600 in 1920. The price fell further, to US$ 169 by 1939; these 1939 fridges also used less electricity.

1925, US refrigerator sales were 75,000 this year, compared to 10,000 in 1920,

1918, The Kelvinator refrigeratorwas introduced.

1916, The first mechanical home refrigerator was marketed in the USA. However its price of US$ 900 was similar to a new motor car, and put off many buyers.

1913, The first domestic refrigerator went on sale in the USA. It was called the Domelre, for Domestic Electric Refrigerator.

16 January 1868, A patent for a refrigerator car, called an �ice box on wheels�, was granted to William Davis, a fish dealer in Michigan, USA.

1834, The first prototype refrigerator was invented, designed by Jacob Perkins.


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