A revolution followed the invention of refrigeration. The “processed food” industry exploded once it was possible to process perishable food products in advance and keep it for days or weeks. Thanks to that, we can eat what we want when we want. If we don’t order pizza, tacos, sushi or burgers for delivery to our doors, we have various options to prepare in a jiffy. Do you ever wonder about the origins of processed edibles that are now in everybody’s fridges and pantries? I have, and here are some interesting stories about the origins of everyday foods and beverages. Surprisingly, what we see as modern food might have origins centuries ago.
So, have you guessed yet?
Ketchup is the modern food item that originated in the 1600s
I bet just about everybody has ketchup as a standard item on their grocery lists. Well, I suppose that also applies to mayonnaise and a few other condiments. Have you ever tried a mixture of ketchup and mayo as a sauce for chicken? THE BEST!
Some sources claim ketchup was among the products that Chinese traders brought on their trips in the 1600s. They called it “ke-tsiap,” a fish-based sauce that was chunky and red. It conquered the taste buds of people in the Americas and Europe. There were no stopping chefs from developing their own versions, leading to an endless list of variations. However, the only sauce of today tasting like ke-tsiap is Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce. Did you know that anchovies form the basis of Worcestershire sauce, similar to the original fish-based Chinese sauce?
Chicken nuggets — modern food items once published in a scientific journal
Reportedly, McDonald’s was the first fast-food outlet to add chicken nuggets to their menu in 1980. However, these tasty bite-size bits were one of the results of Professor Robert C. Baker’s experiments as far back as 1962. They originated from his quest to find a low-cost, high-calorie chicken dish. He created more than a dozen recipes and distributed them to different stores. He published the experiment’s outcome in a scientific journal, and what followed made chicken nuggets a favorite of many.
Pepsi not a food but with an interesting origin
The rivalry between Coca-Cola and Pepsi started more than 100 years ago, and it is still going strong. Misconceptions led pharmacists and chemists early in the previous century to believe that carbonated drinks improved health. Coca-Cola was so convinced that they gave their product away for free in pharmacies. It did not take Pepsi long to create their own cola version. Early in the 1900s, both colas were sold just about everywhere.
However, 1923 saw Pepsi going out of business, but they came back strongly with a more refreshing cola version. Their marketing strategy was moving away from the 6 oz bottles and selling their product in 12-oz ones. Which one do you favor, Coca-Cola or Pepsi?
Nutella is a modern food item based on the cravings of WWII soldiers
How interesting is that? It all started with the soldiers in WWII who craved chocolate. The original answer to their cravings was a mixture of hazelnuts and sugar, made in a paste. Cocoa was incredibly expensive and hard to come by. Subsequently, it became more readily available, and the first chocolate-nut spread followed. The manufacturers named the original product SuperCrema. However, by 1964, after some minimal tweaks, the now-loved across the world, Nutella became available on retailers’ shelves.
Potato chips went from food item to snack
Tappenden opened the first potato chip factory in the world in 1895. Interestingly, the buildup to the opening of the factory started more than 40 years earlier. The story goes that a chef called George Crum at the Saratoga Springs Resort received an order for French fries from a guest. However, the guest, who happened to be Cornelius Vanderbilt, asked for thinner fries. Chef Crum wasted no time to make thinner fries, and Vanderbilt was the first person to taste the new version of potato chips. Essentially, the chips’ crunchy, crisp goodness impressed Vanderbilt, a wealthy railroad tycoon. So much so that he marketed Saratoga chips exclusively in restaurants for the following 40 years, until Tappendem’s chips factory made it available for other markets.
Popsicles were invented by a child
In 1905, on a chilly evening, an 11-year-old boy called Frank Epperson made himself a powdered soda. He took it along to where he played outside. As he sat stirring his soda with a wooden stirrer, his mother called him inside. He forgot all about the drink and came out to find it on the following morning. The soda was frozen, with the wooden stirrer standing up. He tasted the icy drink and loved the taste. Importantly, Frank was quite the entrepreneur and sold “Epsicles” to his friends.
Sadly, as he grew older, he had more important things on his mind and forgot about his frozen lollipops. However, it all came back to him in 1922. He made the popsicles for a firemen’s ball, and he started working on a plan to patent his ice lollipops on a handle in 1924. He began experimenting and made Epsicles in different flavors. Unfortunately, Epperson needed money in 1929 and sold the patent to the Popsicle Corporation.