Okay… I got the itch to do this post after a late-night brainstorming session with other food industry observers. We were challenging each other to come up with the best food-sphere inventions of the modern age; things we couldn’t do without, once we knew they were available…
Who doesn’t have one? Or two or three, thanks to merged households?
We said ‘modern day’ because it’s too easy to cite Canned Food, Frozen Food, the Combine Harvester, and so on. What we wanted were items that have become ubiquitous, perhaps to the point that we take them for granted, and which were invented only since the end of the Second World War. You know how a good War, with the perfect storm of research and development it sparks, can trigger the invention of a plethora of new consumer products…
Here’s what we came up with, in no particular order:
Plastic Food Wrap and Food/Freezer Bags – It’s a staple in every kitchen, home or commercial.
‘Tupperware’ food storage containers – What can we say? All those uses and unbreakable, to boot!
Non-stick Pots and Pans – indispensable to millions of cooks.
Plastic Squeeze/Spray Bottles – Food Folks used them first; now, everybody does!
Takeout Coffee Cup ‘hot’ sleeves – Make recyclable fibre-based beverage cups safe to hold.
Plastic Food Bottles and Jars – Much lighter and safer than Glass.
Pull-top Cans – Much safer and more convenient than containers that needed can punches or rotary can openers.
Microwave Ovens – Who doesn’t have one? Not so much for cooking, but indispensable for re-heating and quick-thawing.
Cardboard Milk/Juice containers – Unbreakable, Lightweight, Cheap, Single-use safe, Recyclable.
Electric Food Processors – Saves he drudgery of hand-cutting and gives greater uniformity of cut pieces. Also a heck of a lot faster than hand-cutting!
Instant Ramen Noodles – Need we elaborate? Asian counterpart of Kraft Dinner…
Kraft Dinner – Millions of post-secondary students and other young adults out on their own for the first time have relied on this universal staple – instant Mac and Cheese.
Boxed Cake Mix
Red Bull – first Energy Drink.
Hangers-on and Honourable Mentions
We also considered such food-associated breakthroughs as:
Mr. Potato Head – Game in which kids make doll-like characters by sticking plastic body parts onto real Potatoes. Now outlawed in many places because some of the parts are small and all have pointy bits that might be dangerous to kids.
Easy-Bake Oven – Many a future chef’s first experience with Baking. Kids make real cakes and cookies in a toy oven. Heat source: a simple household light bulb!
Veg-O-Matic – A multi-purpose manual Food Processor, evolved directly from the older, more ubiquitous mandolin Slicer.
Got any suggestions for additions to this list? Feel free to submit them via Comments or e-mail!
~ Maggie J.