The French wanted it stuffed it in the can


Pax Arcana

While the rest of us sit around and ponder the nature of astro-astrophysics and Newton’s various laws of motion and basketball, Wired takes a minute to remember the man whose scientific ingenuity brought us the manifold wonders of canned food.

Nicolas Appert wasn’t even a scientist. He was a chef who answered Napoleon’s challenge to devise a system for transporting vast amounts of food with an army of hungry Frenchies:

Through experimentation, Appert eventually concluded that the best method of preservation was to heat the food to the boiling point of water, then seal it in airtight glass jars.

Appert’s principles were tested successfully by the French navy, which found that everything from meat to vegetables to milk could be preserved at sea using his method.

Napoleon was running things by now and immediately recognized the benefit to his far-flung armies. He was so grateful to have the problem of victualing solved that in 1810 he had the revolutionary government’s Directory award Appert the 12,000 francs.

Meanwhile, in China, a 2,000 year old man laughed quietly to himself.

Nov. 17, 1749: Father of Modern Canning Born [Wired]


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