March 6 is National Frozen Food Day.
Today, we take for granted frozen food. But until only a few decades ago, refrigeration was a novel thing. The first practical refrigerator was patented by Scottish Australian James Harrison, and the first refrigerator suitable for home use was patented by Fort Wayne, Indiana native Fred Wolf in 1913. Mass production only began after World War I. Today, in countries like India, only about 25% of people own a refrigerator.
Refrigeration has made possible the transport of food over long distances, allowing middle class Americans the ability to have virtually any product produced in the world, in any season. And frozen food not only adds convenience to the problem of food storage, but because food is such an important part of our social life, the convenience of frozen food has changed social patterns.
The ad in the video clip provides evidence of some of the gender roles and sexist attitudes of the 1950s. But as you watch the clip, note the effect frozen dinners is claimed to have on the work patterns and responsibilities of women.
- How often do you eat frozen foods? How do you think having a freezer affects how and what you eat?
- Do you and your family each heat and serve your own meals? How often do you eat together as a family? How do you believe the convenience of freezer to microwave to table food preparation has changed your dinner habits?
- When there is a snowstorm, one often finds supermarkets sold out of milk, bread, and eggs. Do you ever see a “run” on the frozen food section? Why or why not?
Unknown. Icebox demonstration. Digital Image. Smithsonian National Museum of American History on loan from the Sloane Collection. 1930s. http://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/ice-harvesting-electric-refrigeration