Many college students, hurried parents, and young professionals view frozen food as a go-to meal that does its part to lessen the stress in their busy lives. But Stouffer’s lasagna, Marie Callender’s chicken pot pies, and Ore-Ida French fries haven’t been around forever. People living in very cold climates developed various food-freezing techniques long ago, but Clarence Birdseye is credited with inventing the quick-freezing method that first brought us modern frozen food in 1924. According to the Library of Congress, Birdseye was working as a fur trader in Canada when he realized that the fish he and a local Inuit caught together froze almost immediately after they pulled it from the water. Months later, he found the thawed-out fish to be no less tasty. Birdseye theorized that the best-tasting frozen food must be frozen very quickly, and this idea inspired his development of two different quick-freezing methods. Later on, he sold his company to Goldman Sachs for $22 million. The rest is history.
Frozen prepared food sales in the United States amount to over $14 billion, but it’s important to note that frozen food isn’t as popular in every country as it is in the U.S. In Italy, since fresh ingredients are available year-round, people often face a cultural difficulty in accepting the regular use of frozen food.
We looked up frozen food brands in other countries and expanded on a previous list of unusual frozen foods around the world to give you an idea of the way frozen food varies with these 13 different items.
Additional reporting by Nikkitha Bakshani.
Upon first glance, akutaq, which is also called “Eskimo ice cream,” looks like a fruity ice cream similar to Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. In fact, it’s a combination of whipped fat and berries, with common additions of fish and sugar.
Maxi Canada Inc. / ItemMaster
We’re pretty familiar with alphabet soup and vaguely familiar with dinosaur chicken nuggets, but alphabet chicken nuggets? Whether you think that’s YUM or EW, at least you can spell it out.
Nestle USA Inc. / ItemMaster
Welsh rarebit sounds like something you’re more likely to find at a grocery store in the U.K. — and you probably will — but it’s nice to know we can get our fix of bread in Cheddar cheese sauce here, too, in a frozen, convenient way.