Food Facts & Lore, Monday Magazine

This Week in Food History – 01/16/2017


This marks the beginning of our newest Blog segment. We thought a bit of a nibble on food history bites might be a good way to nourish our minds at the beginning of the week. We begin our journey with “Ice Boxes on Wheels.” Enjoy.

The first refrigerated train car patent was issued on this day in 1867 to Detroit industrialist William Davis. The car was used primarily by meat packers and featured racks for suspending quartered carcasses over ice and salt. However, the weight distribution caused derailments and many design improvements would follow, such as placing the ice compartments on the ends.

It is interesting to note that the first refrigerated boxcar entered service in New England, in June 1851, on the Northern Railroad of New York. The Ogdensburg and Lake Champlain Railroad also acquired “ice boxes on wheels” at that time and used ice from the Great Lakes to keep the contents cool. Among other commodities, they shipped butter to Boston.

Other Momentous Happenings This Week…

January 17, 1806

Well, not exactly food-related, but we bet there was a celebratory feast involved. James Madison Randolph was the first child born in the White House on this day. He called U.S. President Thomas Jefferson grandpa.

January 18, 1178

Captain Cook discovers a group of Islands in the Pacific Ocean and names them the Sandwich Islands, after the first Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Sandwich. Today we know these as Hawaii.

January 19, 1915

A US patent for a neon tube advertising sign was issued to French Engineer George Claude. A Heinz pickle would be the first item to light up an urban skyline, in Time Square, of course.

January 20, 1964

Visitors at the New York World’s Fair were astonished by the display of the world’s largest cheese, presented by the Wisconsin Cheese Foundation. 16,000 cows provided the necessary 17,000 quarts of milk for the 34,591-pound block of cheese.

January 21, 1338

Birth of Charles V of France. He must have been a lover of good food, for he would later commission the publication of the first professional French cookery book titled, “Le Viandier,” loosely meaning “Venison.” In French this term encompasses small and large game.

January 22, 1939

Host of legendary cooking show, The Frugal Gourmet, and author of several best-selling cookbooks was born. Jeffrey Smith held degrees in philosophy, sociology and theology. He served as Chaplain at the University of Puget Sound, Washington, where he opened The Chaplain’s Pantry, a kitchen supply store, deli and venue for public cooking classes.

Thanks for reading. Liked what you learned here? Please share it. Also visit 158 Main and JPD on Facebook and See you here next week for more historical nibbles…