Four Centuries of Foodies
1621 The first Thanksgiving is celebrated.
1773 After 342 chests of tea are dumped into Boston Harbor, coffee becomes the colonists' drink of choice.
1803 The first home icebox is patented, and the iceman (below) is born.
1812 The first recipe for ketchup based on tomatoes instead of soy is published by James Mease, who calls it "love apple or tomato catchup."
1845 Visitors to Poland Spring, Maine, begin paying for bottles of spring water.
1853 A patron at a New York resort complains that his french fries are too thick, so chef George Crum intentionally slices the next batch too thin and fries the potatoes too crisp, inadvertently inventing potato chips.
1858 John Mason invents the screw-top glass jar.
1860 Chemist Louis Pasteur heats milk to kill germs and bacteria, a process that will become known as pasteurization.
1868 George Pullman rolls out the first dining car on trains.
1874 Harper's Magazine writes that using a knife as a fork is "regarded as a vulgarism."
1886 John Pemberton begins selling medicinal syrup as a fountain drink, creating Coca-Cola.
1886 Josephine Cochran invents the first working dishwasher.
1888 The first vending machines in the U.S. are introduced on New York City subway platforms, selling tutti-frutti gum.
1897 A cough medicine manufacturer creates an 88 percent sugar gelatin dessert that his wife names Jell-O.
1901 Satori Kato invents instant coffee. (It becomes popular only after the Nescafé brand of freeze-dried crystals is introduced in 1938, however.)
1902 Horn & Hardart opens the first Automat in Philadelphia. For a couple of coins, patrons can open a slot and grab a freshly made hot meal.
1902 The Kellogg brothers push boiled wheat through a roller and bake the thin flakes. Looking for a tastier version, they switch the base ingredient, and cornflakes are born.
1905 Eleven-year-old Frank Epperson leaves a stick in a cup of soda outside overnight, accidentally inventing the Popsicle.
1918 Having gone from 200 pounds to 150, Lulu Peters writes the first diet book to endorse calorie counting --and sells 2 million copies.
1922 Stephen Poplawski puts a spinning blade on the bottom of a container, inventing the blender.
1937 The shopping cart makes its debut.
1946 Percy Spencer stands next to a magnetron, and the candy bar in his pocket melts. A year later he debuts a 750-pound microwave oven.
1953 Swanson marries a postwar demand for time-saving devices to the country's newest obsession, and voila: TV dinners.
1964 Ron Popeil pitches his Veg-O-Matic on TV, pioneering the infomercial.
1972 The Spa on Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., puts yogurt through a soft-serve ice cream machine, producing frozen yogurt.
1973 Carl Sontheimer introduces the slicing, dicing, all-in-one kitchen juggernaut Cuisinart.
1976 California's New Albion Brewing Co. starts the microbrew trend.
1979 Chef Paul Prudhomme opens K-Paul Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans. His blackened redfish sparks a national fad--which depletes the state's supply of the fish.
1988 Researcher James Anderson finds that oat bran lowers cholesterol. Soon after, oat bran is added to everything, from muffins to beer.
1993 The Food Network goes on the air, ensuring that the celebrity chef is here to stay.
2003 Congressional cafeterias change french fries to freedom fries after France refuses to support the war in Iraq.
2005 Fed up with gooey stickers and running inks, the produce industry introduces laser-tattooed fruit.
Sources: The Food Chronology by James Trager, and U.S. News reporting
This story appears in the August 15, 2005 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.