Clarence Birdseye was the classic American inventor who became rich by finding marketable solutions to everyday problems.
Before his company came along in the early 20th century, frozen food was so bad that New York state ruled it inedible for prisoners.
Undaunted, Birdseye was convinced that technology could wipe out hunger. His near obsession with the preservation of fresh fish and vegetables brought together a bunch of inventions into one business.
In 1936, he established the General Seafoods Corp. in Massachusetts, and persuaded Dupont to create waterproof cellophane to wrap his wares. His ingenuity ranged from creating individual food containers to figuring out what kind of ink wouldn’t run when the packages thawed.
“Just because something has always been done in a certain way is never a sufficient reason for continuing to do it in that way,” he wrote. “Change is the very essence of American life.”
— Adapted from Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious Man, Mark Kurlansky, Doubleday.
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