On this date, November 3, in 1952, the inventor, entrepreneur, and naturalist Clarence Birdseye (1886-1956) first began marketing frozen peas in Chester, New York. Birdseye had begun experimenting with the product after returning from a position as a field naturalist in the Canadian Arctic, where he observed Labrador Inuit people flash-freezing freshly caught fish in the environment for preservation.
Birdseye founded Birdseye Seafoods in September 1922; the company processed and sold chilled, but not frozen, fish fillets in coordination with the Fulton Fish Market in New York City. The company expanded in July 1924 to become the General Seafood Corporation, which began retailing frozen foods to the "Springfield Experiment Test Market", a limited product testing market in Springfield, Massachusetts in March 1930.
The company also expanded into selling machinery used by the food industry to freeze products, with Birdseye patenting both a a double belt freezer and a multiplate freezing machine that became industry standards for decades. The brand eventually bore Birdseye's name, though this came after 1929, when Birdseye sold his company and patent rights to what would soon become the General Foods Corporation for $22 million dollars.
Today's post follows up on Birdseye's efforts with a ca. 1970 film from E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, which promoted the company's use of Freon (a registered trademark of the company) to flash-freeze shrimp and other food products. The film is part of Hagley Library’s collection of William Henry Radebaugh films and scripts (Accession 1975.412). Radebaugh (1909-1996), was a public relations executive at the DuPont Company for over twenty years. He wrote, produced and directed many films about the company during his tenure there and for several years after his retirement.
Radebaugh began his career in public relations and in 1942, founded and was executive director of, the South Jersey Manufacturer’s Association in Camden, New Jersey. Radebaugh then took a position at the DuPont Company as a public relations consultant in 1952. He later became the Director of Public Relations for the Textile Fibers Department.
After retiring from his career in public relations with the DuPont Company in 1974, he went on to produce more films for DuPont with two former colleagues who had started the production company, Arden Films. Radebaugh was also an accomplished musician, having played with Jimmie and Tommy Dorsey, Louis Armstrong, and Jack and Charlie Teagarden. He was also an artist, working in needlepoint, watercolors, and printmaking.
Several of the films in this collection are concerned about safety in the plants and in the use of DuPont products. Also included are four compilation reels of short news segments about different products, plants and services of the DuPont Company. There are also films about specific DuPont plants and laboratories including the Haskell Laboratory, the Spruance plant in Richmond, Va.; the Tecumseh plant in Tecumseh, Kansas, the Washington plant in Washington, West Virginia and the twenty fifth anniversary of the Victoria, Texas plant.
To view more material from this collection online now, click here to visit its page in our Digital Archive.