Food History Timeline 1950-1980

- POSTED ON: Dec 06, 2012


Here’s more history of food events between 1950 and 1982.

1951 The first Jack-in-the-Box opens in San Diego

1951 Swanson introduces beef, chicken, turkey pot pies.

1952 The first sugar free no calorie soft drinks are introduced.

1952 Lipton's dry Onion Soup Mix is introduced.

1952 Sugar Frosted Flakes, 29 percent sugar, are introduced by Kelloggs.

1952 Clarence Birdseye introduces the first frozen peas.

1952 Mrs. Paul's introduces frozen fish sticks.

1952 Colonel Harland Sanders begins to franchise KFC restaurants. Pete Harman of Salt Lake City gets the first franchise, and agrees to pay 5 cents for each chicken sold.

1953 USDA Agricultural Research Service created.

1953 John H. Kraft received a patent for the manufacture of soft surface cured cheese.

1953 Dow Chemical creates Saran Wrap

1953 The French Sardine Co. (since 1917) becomes Star-Kist Foods. Charlie the Tuna comes on board in 1961.

1953 Kraft Cheez Whiz is introduced. Originally created as an easy way to make Welsh rarebit, this stable cheese sauce comes in a jar with Worcestershire sauce, mustard flour and orange coloring added. A survey of American housewives reveals more than 1,300 possible uses for the product.

1953 Kellogg’s Sugar Smacks are introduced - they contained 56% sugar.

1953 Simplot introduced frozen french-fried potatoes on a commercial basis.

1953 There were more than 15,000 pizzerias in the U.S.

1953 The first Danny's Donuts opened in Lakewood California. The name will change to Danny's Coffee Shops, and finally in 1959 to Denny's Restaurants.

1954 TV dinners are introduced. C.A. Swanson & Sons introduced the first TV dinner: roast turkey with stuffing and gravy, sweet potatoes and peas. It sold for 98 cents and came in an aluminum tray, so you could just open the box and heat the dinner in the oven. (No microwave ovens back then). Supposedly executive Gerald Thomas came up with the idea when the company had tons of leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. The idea for the aluminum trays came from the trays used for airline food.. They were an immediate success, and Turkey dinners are still the most popular Swanson frozen dinner. Swanson stopped calling them TV dinners in 1962.

1954 Carnation introduced instant nonfat dry milk.

1954 Kraft introduced Cracker Barrel brand natural cheese.

1954 Process for making instant potato flakes developed.

1954 The Butterball brand and the self-basting turkey are introduced. Through genetics, Swift develops a broad-breasted bird without the tough tendons and uses a hot-water bath to remove feathers.

1954 M&M's Peanut Chocolate Candies were introduced. Also, the the famous slogan, 'The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand,' slogan is introduced.

1954 Trix cereal is introduced by General Mills. It is more than 46% sugar.

1955 First franchised McDonald's was opened in Des Plaines, Illinois, by Ray Kroc, who bought the hamburger restaurant owned by the McDonald brothers. On opening day a 2 patty hamburger was 15 cents and French Fries were 10 cents.

1955 Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California.

1955 The U.S. minimum wage was raised from 75 cents to $1.00

1955 The first microwave oven for home use was introduced by the Tappan Stove Company. It cost about $1,300.

1955 Kellogg introduced Special K breakfast cereal, with only 4.5% sugar.

1956 80% of U.S. households now have a refrigerator.

1957 Burger King introduced the Whopper burger.

1957 Better Homes & Gardens prints its first microwave-cooking article.

1957 Margarine sales exceed butter sales for the first time.

1957 General Foods Corp. introduces TANG breakfast beverage crystals.

1957 Kentucky Fried Chicken begins selling chicken in buckets.

1958 Friskees introduced the first dry cat food

1958 Rice-A-Roni goes on sale.

1958 Cocoa Puffs cereal is introduced by General Mills; it contains 43% sugar.

1958 Cocoa Krispies is introduced by Kellogg’s - it's 45.9% sugar.

1958 Jolly Green Giant was born. He appears on TV, but he looks like a monster and scares kids. So they lighten him up a bit, added 'Ho, ho, ho' and and a catchy jingle.

1958 Sweet n' Low was introduced as an artificial sweetener.

1958 McDonald's sold its 100 millionth hamburger.

1958 Jif peanut butter was introduced (creamy).

1958 Royal Crown Cola begins test marketing Diet Rite Cola, the first diet cola. It goes national in 1962.

1959 The one billionth can of Spam was sold

1959 Polish born New York businessman Reuben Mattus created a premium ice cream. He gave it the Danish sounding name, Haagan Dazs.

1959 Mike Ilitch opened the first 'Little Caesars Pizza'

1960 Frozen bagels were introduced.

1960 Instant potatoes developed.

1960 Aluminum cans were first used commercially for food and beverages.

1960 Domino's Pizza was founded.

1961 'Boiling Bags' were introduced - frozen plastic packages of food that can be dropped in boiling water to heat them for serving.

1961 Teflon coated frying pans were introduced.

1961 General Mills introduced 'Total' breakfast cereal.

1961 Unilever introduced 'Mrs. Butterworth's Syrup.

1961 Green Giant entered the frozen food business with peas, corn, green beans and baby Lima beans in pouches with butter sauce.

1961 Coca-Cola Co. introduced 'Sprite' lemon-lime soft drink to compete with 7-Up.

1961 Carnation introduced 'Coffee-Mate' nondairy creamer.

1962 The pull tab for beverage cans is introduced.

1962 Planters introduced dry roasted peanuts.

1963 Maxwell House introduced the first freeze-dried instant coffee.

1963 Jean Nidetch founded Weight Watchers.

1963 Fruit Loops breakfast cereal is introduced.

1963 ChipsAhoy! chocolate chip cookies are introduced.

1963 The one billionth McDonald's hamburger was served by Ray Kroc on the Art Linkletter Show.

1963 Coca Cola introduced TaB, its new diet cola.

1964 St. Paul, Minnesota gets its first McDonald's Restaurant. Burgers are 15 cents each.

1964 The first 12 oz aluminum can was introduced by Royal Crown Cola. It wasn't until 3 years later that Coke started using the aluminum can.

1964 Pepsi Cola introduced Diet Pepsi.

1965 Cool Whip, a whipped cream substitute, was introduced by General Foods. Within 3 months it is the top selling whipped topping product.

1965 The first Subway sandwich shop opens in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

1965 Campbell Soup Company introduces Franco-American Spaghetti-O's.

1965 The Pillsbury Doughboy, 'Poppin' Fresh,' was born. He made his debut in a commercial for crescent rolls.

1966 McDonald's begins using frozen french fries.

1966 Ingredients are required to be listed on food packages. The first Truth in packaging law.

1966 American Roman Catholics are no longer required to abstain from eating meat on Fridays.

1967 Gatorade, the original sports drink, is developed by the University of Florida for their football team.

1967 Plastic milk bottles are introduced.

1967 A gallon of milk cost $1.03, but in 2006 dollars that would be $6.24

1967 Wholesome Meat Act passed

1968 The Big Mac was introduced at McDonalds for 49 cents

1968 The first Red Lobster restaurant opened in Lakeland, Florida.

1969 Pringles potato chips were introduced - made from dehydrated, mashed potatoes.

1969 The last issue of the Saturday Evening Post was published. 1821-1969

1969 The 3 day Woodstock Music and Arts Fair began on a dairy farm in Upstate New York.

1969 Cyclamate, a non-caloric sweetener, was banned. Discovered in 1937, and widely used in the food industry, gigantic amounts of cyclamate were found to cause cancer in laboratory rats. Cyclamate is still used in many countries around the world.

1970 Hamburger Helper was introduced.

1970 The Red Lobster restaurant chain was acquired by General Mills.

1971 The Quarter Pounder was introduced at McDonald's for 53 cents.

1971 The first Starbucks opened in Seattle.

1971 Coca Cola introduces the plastic bottle.

1971 Disney World opened at Orlando, Florida.

1972 The McDonald's Egg McMuffin breakfast sandwich was created.

1972 The first Ruby Tuesday restaurant was opened near the Knoxville campus of the University of Tennessee.

1973 'Promise' brand margarine was introduced.

1973 'Stove Top Dressing' was introduced by General Foods.

1973 'Cup o'Noodles' was introduced in the U.S. by Nissin Foods.

1973 Coleman's Mustard celebrates its 150th anniversary.

1974 Nutrition labeling of fluid milk products begins.

1976 There are no red M&Ms from 1976 to 1987. The popular food coloring, Red Dye No. 2, was banned by the FDA because studies had shown it might cause cancer. Red M&Ms disappeared for 11 years because of the ban.

1976 Pierrier water was introduced in the U.S.

1978 Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream and Crepes opened in a former gas station in Vermont.

1979 Pillsbury acquires the Green Giant Company.

1979 McDonald's introduced the Happy Meal for kids.

1979 General Mills introduced 'Honey Nut Cheerioes'

1979 There are about 6,000 KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) restaurants, and they sell 2.7 billion pieces of chicken.

1980 Due to record high sugar prices, Coca Cola begins substituting high fructose corn syrup for half of the sucrose (sugar) used in Coca Cola.

1980 McDonald's test marketed Chicken McNuggets in Knoxville, Tennessee. They are so popular that they have to look for a second supplier.

1981 Lean Cuisine frozen dinners were introduced.

1981 The USDA announced that ketchup could be counted as a vegetable in the school lunch program.

1981 The FDA approved the artificial sweetener Aspartame (NutraSweet) for tabletop use.

1982 Diet Coke was introduced.

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Existing Comments:

On Dec 06, 2012 jethro wrote:
Dr. Collins, great job publishing this and the previous post historical lists. I didn't know Jack-In-The-Box, microwaves, Little Caesar and Domino's Pizza were that old. I thought they all started in the 80's!

On Dec 06, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Thanks Jethro. Since I was a child all through the 50s, I remember the 50s, 60s and 70s very well. In the late 1950s, our family sometimes went to Foster's Freeze for a burger or ice cream after church. That was before McDonalds, Jack-in-the-box, BurgerKing, or Taco Bell. It was the mid 1960s before I ever experienced a pizza. I got my first color TV around 1974, and my first microwave sometime around 1980. In 1982, my law practice was one of the first in town to use a personal computer (DOS of course) for data processing. We had those big floppy disks, and it was very complicated, I had to hire an IT guy to set it all up for me, and to teach my secretary how to operate it.

On Dec 06, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
Oh WOW! the list goes on. So many happenings in my lifetime. Some I remember and some I do not. I was a child through the 40s,50s those were the days of Saturday afternoon double features with a cartoon and a Dick Tracy serial, all for 35 cents. Thanks for your efforts they are greatly appreciated.

On Dec 06, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Thanks John, I enjoyed looking at the timing of these food events. Glad you did too.

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