A Short History of Commercial Refrigeration


Refrigerators are one of the most essential components in just about every restaurant kitchen, café, grocery or convenience store. But have you ever stopped to wonder how they have progressed and advanced over the years, and how far we’ve come from the days of storing produce in iceboxes?

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Early Beginnings
Several hundred years ago the first buildings that were designed for storing ice and snow were built. Sawdust and straw were used as insulation to keep these buildings cold, and in the 1700s William Cullen used this as inspiration to create the very first cooler box. It wasn’t an instant hit and nor were the other experiments by John Hadley and Benjamin Franklin that were designed to store volatile liquids at low temperatures, but they set the benchmark for the developments that would follow.

Making Ice
In the mid 1800s a man by the name of Ferdinand Carre developed the first machine that could produce ice. Three of these machines made their way to New Orleans, where they spurred on further developments. By the 1840s refrigerated boxcars were being used to transport food, and Carre’s icemaker had started something of a revolution.

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A Step Towards Modern Refrigeration
Although some villages only recently got their first fridges, this is certainly the exception not the norm, as in the 1900s the meat packing industry started to rely heavily on the availability of refrigerated units. Armour and Wilson and other companies all purchased units for use in boxcars and had their own storage facilities built to keep meat cold. These units were enormous, very heavy and often used toxic gasses to keep them cool, so there were somewhat hazardous, but they did the job.

Moving into the 20th Century
Throughout the course of the last century modern refrigeration underwent many changes, and today you can buy everything from a display freezer from somewhere like https://www.fridgefreezerdirect.co.uk/glass-door-refrigeration/single-glass-door-freezers to a walk-in refrigerator.

Size and efficiency were two factors that underwent the greatest changes, and the cost of units also became far more affordable. As fridges evolved their manufacturing processes did too, and they can now be manufactured on an extremely large scale. Fridges are no longer considered a luxury. Instead they are a necessity that every food-related business cannot live without, and in the future we’re sure to see even more advancements.