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 80s -- Nutrition guidelines and labeling take center stage

Microwave ovens are in almost every home, and the industry responds with a tremendous variety of frozen meals in plastic containers designed for microwave cooking. Health and obesity concerns are heightened, and industry responds with lower-calorie products.

The January issue of Food Processing predicts the next 10 years will be "the decade of nutrition guidelines, fortification guidelines and nutritional labeling."

Lean CuisineG.D. Searle's aspartame approved; marketed as NutraSweet, it quickly replaces saccharin in diet soft drinks.

Nestle debuts Lean Cuisine calorie-controlled frozen entrees.

PepsiCo introduces Pepsi Free and Diet Pepsi Free, the first caffeine-free colas by a major brand.

On a lark, Paul Newman and A.E. Hotchner found Newman's Own. After taxes, all proceeds are donated to educational and charitable organizations.

LaBatt Brewing Co. introduces the twist-off cap on a refillable bottle.

SnappleModified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) enters marketplace.

Philip Morris Cos. Inc purchases General Foods Corp. for $5.6 billion.

R.J. Reynolds buys Nabisco Foods for $4.9 billion, creating RJR Nabisco.

Coca-Cola introduces New Coke, a sweeter formula. Three months later, after consumer backlash, Coca-Cola "Classic" returns.

Snapple introduces bottled iced tea, beginning a new soft drink category.

Philip Morris Cos. purchases Kraft for $12.9 billion.

Food and Drug Administration Act of 1988 officially establishes FDA as an agency of the Dept. of Health and Human Services.

LunchablesLunchables introduced by Kraft.

Minnesota adopts the blueberry muffin as the state muffin and designates it into law as Minnesota Statute 1.1496.00.

ConAgra rolls out Healthy Choice, a line of low-fat, low-cholesterol, low-sodium foods developed after CEO Charles Harper has a heart attack.

General Foods and Kraft merge to become Kraft General Foods.

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