1901… Coffee, in an instant… No, this one’s not down to Nestlé. Chemist Satori Kato presents his revolutionary invention at the 1901 Pan-American World Fair held in Buffalo, after developing the first soluble instant coffee. It hits shops five years later.
1902… Taking the pith… Neither mandarin nor orange, with a ‘delicious taste and, moreover, no pith!’ So goes a contemporary review of Brother Marie- Clement Rodier’s revolutionary new seedless fruit, developed in Algeria. Production soon spreads across Europe.
1902… First breakfast flakes hit UK… US supplier Force Food Co gives Brits their first ready-to-eat breakfast cereal in the shape of wheat flakes marketed by cartoon character Sunny Jim. At its peak, the brand was selling 12.5 million packs - and is still sold today in the UK through Nestlé.
1904… Disposable culture… First King Camp Gillette dreams up the the safety razor in 1901, turning every man into his own barber. Then he launches the disposable razor, arguably one of the first steps towards the throwaway culture that still pervades today.
1903… The fizzy gets busy… The world’s first home carbonator fizzes into life. SodaStream’s popularity soars in the 1970s and 1980s when many big brands lend their names to flavour concentrates
1904… Tea bagged… Until now tea’s been strictly loose. Then along comes New Yorker Thomas Sullivan with the world’s first commercially available tea bags. First off they’re hand sewn muslin but a machine is soon developed to mechanise production. It goes global
1905… Glass and a half… George Cadbury Jr proves his pluck by tinkering with the Swiss milk chocolate recipe and creating a bar he claims is better than those of the kings of cocoa. By swapping condensed milk for a ‘glass and a half’ of full-cream milk, a British icon is born.
1907… Laundry gets white… Whites have never been whiter. Persil, the first ‘self-activated’ detergent (containing bleach combined with soap), hits the market and housewives across Europe breathe a collective sigh of relief. Since 1931 Unilever has owned the UK rights.
1908… Cellophane wrapped up… Jacques Brandenberger invents cellophane to protect tablecloths from spilt wine. It’s a failure (it peels off in a thin transparent layer), but he finds another use. US confectioner Whitman’s Candy Co later becomes the first to wrap food in cellophane.
The Grocer's 150 defining moments: the 1860s
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The Grocer's 150 defining moments: the 1900s