Black people who changed the way we eat food forever – Ice cream, Jack Daniels and more
A new exhibition in Suffolk is sharing the stories of Black innovators, who were behind inventions such as the humble ice cream scoop.
‘Dining with U.S. Innovators: Black People Who Changed Food History’ is on display in the Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket for the next few months.
It highlights the lives and achievements of Black people, as well as the impact of their legacy around the world, as part of Black History Month celebrations.
Their stories provide an invaluable insight into how Black people overcame social and political barriers to share their creations and transform the way we grow, process and prepare food.
Found in a beautiful drawing room, the space centres around a long table with plates that bear information about each innovator.
Most of the figures hail from the United States as the patent process in the UK was more complex, drawn-out and expensive, which meant they often belonged to employers rather than individuals.
One of those with a seat at the table is Nathan ‘Nearest’ Green, an African-American born into slavery and emancipated after the civil war.
He was a master distiller for Jack Daniels and taught his techniques to the namesake and founder of the whiskey brand himself.
Mr Green taught Jack Daniel everything he knew in order to make the famous whiskey what it is today and was the first African-American master distiller on record for the United States.
The cabinets surrounding the table contain objects from the museum’s own collection to compliment the stories being told through history.
An invention we all use today can be traced back to Frederick McKinley Jones, who was the first to create a refrigerator.
A self-taught mechanic raised by Catholic priests, he designed a portable air-cooling unit for trucks carrying food in 1938 and got the patent in 1949.
This went on to become a multi-million dollar business for Mr Jones and his units were especially important during World War II, preserving blood, medicine, and food for use at army hospitals and on open battlefields.
George Washington Carver was the most prominent black scientist of the early 20th century and you might have heard him named Mr Peanut, for inventing hundreds of recipes using the humble nut such as chilli sauce, shampoo, shaving cream and glue.
Despite difficult origins as a slave, Mr Peanut rose to celebrity status thanks to his work and met three US presidents: Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge and Franklin Roosevelt.
He went on to promote racial harmony and toured white Southern colleges from 1923 to 1933 for the Commission on Interracial Cooperation.
If you’re partial to a sweet glass of fruit juice in the morning, you have Madeline M. Turner to thank as her invention in 1916 revolutionised the industry.
Her fruit press allowed fruit to be pushed into an opening and cut in half, where it would then be shifted between different plates until juiced.
This was the formation of an assembly line, which is a staple feature in all factories today.