Clarence Birdseye

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Clarence Frank Birdseye II
BirthplaceBrooklyn, New York City, US
Known for Frozen food

Birdseye, Clarence,

1886–1956, American inventor and founder of the frozen food industry, b. Brooklyn, N.Y., studied at Amherst College. From 1910 he worked as a naturalist, and in 1912 he went to Labrador on a fur-trading expedition. After he returned to the United States in 1916, he began experimenting with freezing foods, aiming at commercial application. He developed a method for freezing fish and in 1924 he was one of the founders of the General Seafood Company, which began manufacturing various fast-frozen food products. In 1929 the company was bought by the Postum Company (later the General Foods Corp.) for $22 million. By 1949, Birdseye had perfected the anhydrous freezing process, reducing the time needed for the operation from 18 hr to 1 1-2 hr. A prolific inventor, he held more than 200 patents.


See biography by M. Kurlansky (2012).

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Birdseye, Clarence (“Bob”)

(1886–1956) inventor, food processor; born in Brooklyn, N.Y. He was interested in taxidermy as a child, and he took a cooking course in high school. After briefly attending Amherst College, he worked as a field naturalist for the Biological Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (1910–12) before going to Labrador where he engaged in the fur trade (1912–17). Observing how well the natives preserved fish and other foods by freezing them, he experimented with the quick-freezing of foods in the harsh winters there. Back in Gloucester, Mass., he perfected his quick-freezing and packaging process in the 1920s, but it would be the 1940s before the name Birds Eye became a household word through the frozen food firm that he established (in 1927), the General Foods Company.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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