FICTION

Frozen in Time: Clarence Birdseye's Outrageous Idea About Frozen Food

165p. bibliog. ebook available. index. photos. reprods. websites. Delacorte. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385743884; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780375991356; pap. $8.99. ISBN 9780385372442.
COPY ISBN
Gr 6–10—Based on Kurlansky's book for adults Birdseye: Adventures of a Curious Man (Random, 2012), this biography examines Birdseye founder Clarence Birdseye, who patented the process of freezing foods. Kurlansky describes how Birdseye dropped out of college for financial reasons, later working as a government field researcher. Between 1912 and 1915, he spent time on Canada's remote Labrador coast, where he found an opportunity in the fur business. There, he noticed that the native Inuit people could freeze food almost instantly in the frigid temperatures and that the food tasted fresh when thawed out. His curiosity about frozen foods never waned, and in the 1920s, he patented a machine that used salt water to freeze food rapidly. Birdseye caught the break of a lifetime when cereal magnate Marjorie Merriweather Post took an interest in his invention. When Post bought him out with her creation of the new company General Foods, Birdseye made a fortune, sealing the deal only three months before the stock market crash of 1929. In later years, the voraciously curious Birdseye also invented a handheld whale harpoon, as well as a high-efficiency heat lamp that is still in use. Kurlansky provides ample context, detailing relevant social and economic conditions (for instance, there was a correlation between population density and the spread of refrigeration in Brooklyn) and crediting a wide selection of contemporary and competing inventors. This is a compellingly told story with obvious curriculum connections.—Bob Hassett, Luther Jackson Middle School, Falls Church, VA
Based on the adult book, this volume introduces the frozen-food inventor, who, as a young man, moved around the U.S. and Canada. Much like its itinerant subject, the narrative rambles, discussing family; fox farming; history of ice, salt, refrigeration, and freezing; challenges of developing, transporting, and storing frozen foods; among other topics. A black-and-white photo insert is included. Bib., ind.

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