6 Mar: The Real Captain Birdseye

Birdseye Frosted Foods launched its first range of flash-frozen foods at a ‘test kitchen’ in Springfield, Massachusetts on 6th March, 1930 – and at the helm was Clarence ‘Bob’ Birdseye, an American entrepreneur of great ambition and insight.

Like Captain Birdseye, the bearded, fictional mascot of the brand dreamt up for the British market, Bob had scoured the seven seas looking for innovative approaches to food preservation – a search that led him to the Inuit people of Labrador, Canada and their methods of fast-freezing fresh fish. This discovery led to a patent which eventually netted Birdseye a cool $22million.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly trace Birdseye’s entrepreneurial endeavours back through his childhood; discover the extraordinary list of animal species he attempted to eat; and consider the surprising role of the humble spinach in the incredible success of frozen processed food… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Meet Clarence Birdseye: American who cooked up frozen foods’ (New York Post, 2022): https://nypost.com/2022/09/30/meet-clarence-birdseye-american-who-cooked-up-frozen-foods/

• ‘Clarence Birdseye, The Man Behind Modern Frozen Food’ (Smithsonian Magazine, 2012): https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/clarence-birdseye-the-man-behind-modern-frozen-food-95808503/

• ‘Birds Eye Fish Fingers – Fresh From The Captains Table’ (Birds Eye, 1980s):