Chronography of Food Cooking and
modified 21 August 2023
famines and food shortages, see individual country pages
See also Food for other food related chronologies
�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.
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.
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.
The blender, or liquidizer, appeared in kitchens.
2 June 1947, Tupperware
sealable plastic containers were patented by Earl Elias Tupper in
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.
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 boil� a pint of water in 96 seconds.
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.
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.
introduced the Modernette electric
cooker. However at this time just 20% of UK homes had mains eolectricity.
1912, Charles Belling invented a practical domestic
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
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
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
opener. Food had been canned since 1804 when Frenchman
Appert invented the canning process, but cans had been opened with a
hammer and chisel.
1818, Canned food was first sold in
1814, The first
commercially-sold tinned food in Britain was manufactured by the
25 August 1810, Peter Durand received a patent
for his invention of the tin can.
See Lighting for gas street lighting.
1851, The first gas cooker
was shown at the Great Exhibition.
1826, James Sharp designed a prototype
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.
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
69% of UK households possessed a fridge, up from 8% in 1956. This meant chilled
or frozen supermarket food became practicable.
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.
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.
US refrigerator sales were 75,000 this year, compared to 10,000 in 1920,
The Kelvinator refrigerator� was
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.
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.
The first prototype refrigerator was invented, designed by Jacob Perkins.
Back to top