The History of Frozen Food - Performance Kitchen

It might surprise you to know that the history of frozen food significantly predates the microwave. Furthermore, recent studies show that frozen food is as nutritious, if not more nutritious than fresh options. We've come a long way in terms of flavor, texture, and nutritional balance. But how did the practice of freezing food first begin? Read on for a short history.

1000 B.C.

Going back thousands of years, the Chinese used insulated ice cellars to make food last as long as possible. It was effective for helping meats and vegetables last through the warmer months. Other cultures, like the Greeks and Romans, used packed snow to keep food cold. These are early some of the earliest examples of frozen food.


Ice boxes became common in the U.S. and other countries around the mid-19th Century. They chilled food and kept it cold, but they required a continual supply of ice–often harvested from frozen ponds and lakes, then stored in regional facilities–not the most convenient practice.


Clarence Frank Birdseye II from New Jersey patented a method to freeze fish for commercial production. He formed Birdseye Seafood, Ltd. and began selling quick-frozen foods. By 1928, he'd created a double-belt freezer that was the precursor for today's frozen food technology.


After the introduction of the refrigerant freon in the 1920s, separate freezer units, known as deep freezers or chest freezers became common in homes.


Following WWII, "TV dinners" hit the market. Bought from the grocery store frozen, they were heated in the oven at home and came in aluminum dishes with separate compartments, similar to what was used for airplane food. These meals took around 25 minutes to heat.


The proliferation of microwaves made thawing and cooking frozen meals even faster.


The Frozen Food Hall of Fame is founded by the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association. This organization founded Frozen Food Month (March).


Performance Kitchen was founded, creating delicious, nutritionally balanced meals in a wide variety of flavors. Our innovative flash freezing technology preserves produce harvested at its peak. Instead of using excess sodium and sugar to give our meals flavor (like frozen meals of the past), we use premium ingredients, herbs, and spices to create our globally-inspired recipes.