This week in food manufacturing history, we'll take a look at the first commercial ice-cream factory, the planting of the first macadamia nuts, the invention of Cracker Jack and the birth of Pizza Hut.
The deliciousness that is ice cream
The first to manufacturer ice cream on a large scale was Baltimore dairyman Jacob Fussell. On June 15, 1851, Fussell opened the first commercial ice-cream factory.
Fussell often bought fresh dairy products from Pennsylvania farmers and then sold them in the booming city of Baltimore. But as demands varied, he was often left with a surplus of cream, leaving him to turn it in to ice cream. Due to a surplus of ice cream, Fussell decided to build an ice cream factory in hopes of making a profit.
So, he built the first ice cream factory in Seven Valleys, Penn., and then shipped his products to Baltimore by train. The business boomed and he became the father of the wholesale ice cream industry, opening factories in several other cities (including Baltimore).
Nuts for Hawaii
While the exact dates on this seem to get a little blurred, several sources state that it was on June 18, 1892, that Macadamia nuts were first planted in Hawaii.
The story goes that two sailors, Edward and Robert Jordan, traveled to the Hawaiian islands from Brisbane, Australia, with their pockets full of nuts. Trees grown from the nuts of the original importation made by the Jordan brothers are still growing in Honolulu today!
The success of the early plantings was so encouraging that macadamia trees have been widely planted on all four of the major islands of Hawaii. Today, Hawaii is one of the world's largest producers of macadamia nuts, and was once known as the macadamia nut capital of the world as it grows approximately 90 percent of the world's macadamia nuts.
Take me out to the ball game
Everyone seems to know the popular ball game tune, which includes the lyrics "Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks...," but are you familiar with how these snacks got their start?
In 1871, a German immigrant, Fredrick William Rueckheim, was selling popcorn out of his Chicago residence. After bringing his brother Louis over from Germany to join him in his venture, the two produced a popcorn confection and presented it to the public at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago on June 16, 1893. That creation, of course, being the popcorn, peanut and molasses confection we still know today: Cracker Jack.
A couple of years later, Louis perfected a method to prevent the molasses-coated popcorn from sticking together.
Making it great!
On June 15, 1958, the Pizza Hut franchise we know and love today was born.
Two brothers from Wichita, Kansas, Frank and Dan Carney, borrowed $600 from their mom to turn a 600-square foot bar into a pizzeria.
While both brothers had studied business at the city's university, it was Dan who, while in the U.S. Air Force, began to make note of the increasing popularity and demand for pizza.
The pizza craze that was sweeping the nation led the brothers to open the very first Pizza Hut in Wichita, Kansas.
Apparently the building had a sign that would only accommodate up to nine characters, and since the brothers wanted to use "Pizza" in the name, that left room for only three more letters. Hence the word "Hut" was suggested, leaving us with the popular pizza chain we know today, Pizza Hut.
Keep an eye out next week for more on Food History! If you know of an important date in food history that you would like to see featured, please email me at [email protected].