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Clarence Birdseye and His Fantastic Frozen Food Machine

from NPR

There's a particular pleasure in being reminded that the most ordinary things can still be full of magic. Frogs may turn into princes. Lumps of dirt can hide sparkling gems. And having just read Mark Kurlansky's new biography of Clarence Birdseye, I now see the humble fish fillet in a whole new light.

For as Kurlansky tells it, when Clarence Birdseye figured out how to pack and freeze haddock, using what he called "a marvelous new process which seals in every bit of just-from-the-ocean flavor," he essentially changed the way we produce, preserve and distribute food forever.

Today, tiger shrimp from Thailand, Japanese edamame and blueberry cheesecake outshine the plain white fillets in the freezer case, but those packs of haddock launched the freezer revolution: They embody the magic combination of size, shape, and packaging. Unlike Kurlansky's book on cod, here he focuses on the man behind the fillet. And Birdseye's remarkable life uniquely prepared him to lead the world into its frozen future.

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