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Clarence Birdseye


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									Case Study: The Story of Clarence Birdseye
                             Although the practice of preserving food by freezing has been traced back
                             to as early as 1626, and the first commercial venture in producing frozen
                             food to 1875, Clarence Birdseye is credited with developing and refining
                             the process and making frozen food available to the mass consumer

                             Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1886, Clarence Birdseye began his
                             entrepreneurial career at age ten. He lived summers with his family on a
                             large Long Island farm where he spent most of his time outdoors in the
                             fields or at the seashore. In his outdoor explorations he noticed a large
                             number of muskrats in the area, and through contacts at the Bronx Zoo,
                             he trapped and sold muskrats to a customer in England. An entrepreneur
                             and outdoorsman at heart, he used his profits to buy a double-barreled
                             shotgun to improve his productivity.

Birdseye's interest in animals and the environment continued to develop through high school. His first
job after spending only two years in college at Amherst was with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's
Biological Survey. Through his work at the Biological Survey, Birdseye traveled extensively, gaining
respect as a hard worker and developing a reputation for eating unusual food, such as mice,
chipmunks, skunk, rattlesnakes, polar bear and lion.

Traveling through the arctic, Birdseye noticed how easily food was preserved in extreme cold. He
watched the Eskimos' rudimentary quick-freeze methods, a process by which items are frozen at such
a speed that only small ice crystals are able to form, and noted that quickly frozen food tasted vastly
better than if it were frozen slowly. The key, Birdseye found, was to freeze the food so quickly that
there would be no damage to its cellular structure, preserving taste, texture and appearance.
Quickly recognizing the consumer relevance of the Eskimos' freezing method, Birdseye began
experimenting with a variety of different foods and developing the most effective freezing and
packaging methods for the mass market. In addition to perfecting the flash-freezing method and
developing equipment to freeze large quantities of food, Birdseye also created an innovative system
for freezing it in a small package that could be sold easily to the consumer.

                             The sale of Birds Eye frozen foods began March 6, 1930 in test marketing
                             in 18 stores in Springfield, Massachusetts. There were 27 items-vegetables,
                             fruits, fish and meats in this initial consumer test. Another consumer test
                             was run in 1934 in Syracuse, New York followed by another in Rochester,
                             New York. From this point, frozen food moved on to nationwide distribution.
                             But, since many retailers couldn't afford to buy freezers during the
                             Depression, Birdseye developed and leased innovative, inexpensive freezer
                             display cases and leased them to his national distributors. The ability to
distribute and sell frozen foods at the retail level marked the beginning of the frozen food industry. In
1944, Birdseye leased the first insulated railroad cars and nationwide frozen food distribution became
possible. In effect, Birdseye created a market for frozen foods.

"I do not consider myself to be a remarkable person," Birdseye once said. "I did not make
exceptionally high grades when I went to school. I never finished college. I am not the world's best
salesman. But I am intensely curious about the things which I see around me and this curiosity,
combined with a willingness to assume risks, has been responsible for such success and satisfaction
as I have achieved in life."

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