Food Processing: A History

As we celebrate our birthday, we look back at the incredible changes that shaped the food and beverage industry since 1940.

By Diane Toops, News & Trends Editor

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The 60s - Age of advertising

High-fructose corn syrup, a substitute for sugar, lowers the costs for food producers. The food industry makes the supply chain more efficient, creates products and technologies that cost less and uses its marketing expertise through advertising to show consumers the added value of food products.

1960
Aluminum cans first used commercially for foods and beverages.

1961
Coca-Cola introduces the 12-oz can.

Boiling bags – frozen plastic packages of food that can be dropped in boiling water to heat them for serving – introduced.

Green Giant enters the frozen food business with peas, corn, green beans and baby Lima beans in pouches with butter sauce.

Star-Kist Foods brings Charlie the Tuna onboard.

Frito-Lay Inc. formed by the merger of the Frito Co. and the H. W. Lay Co.

1962
General Foods Corp. introduces jingle, "Oh I wish I were an Oscar Meyer weiner …"

1963
Ermal Cleon Fraze revolutionizes the beverage industry with his invention of pull-tab openers for cans. He sells his invention to Alcoa. Schlitz Brewing Co. introduces first pop-top beer can.

Coca-Cola introduces Tab, its first diet soft drink; Diet Pepsi follows next year.

Irradiation used for the first time to sterilize dried fruits and vegetables, in order to stop sprouting and control insect infestation.

1964
Plastic milk container introduced commercially.

1965
PepsiCo founded through a merger of Pepsi-Cola Co. and Frito-Lay.

Giggling his way to stardom, Pillsbury Doughboy Poppin' Fresh is born in the offices of Leo Burnett.

Spam Containers1967
Raytheon introduces the first domestic countertop 100-volt microwave oven, which costs just under $500, and the market explodes. Raytheon, under the Amana brand name, becomes the dominant player in the home microwave oven business.

Easy Open Front Ring pull-tab introduced to Spam can.

Gatorade, the original sports drink, developed by the University of Florida for their football team.

1968
Food Processing introduces Foods of Tomorrow section. Among the first items: fruit and spice microcapsules with full flavor impact at the moment of consumption.

Alexander Liepa invents Pringles, packaged in a tubular can with a foil-coated interior and a resealable plastic lid. His children later honor his request by burying part of his cremated remains in a Pringles container in his grave.

1969
Cyclamate, a non-caloric sweetener, is banned by FDA after it's found to cause cancer in laboratory rats. Cyclamate is still used in many countries around the world.

Carnation Spreadables – canned, meat-based sandwich spreads -- go to the moon on Apollo 11.

General Foods introduces Hamburger Helper, which stretches a pound of hamburger to feed a family of five.

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