Patent on Refrigeration Revolutionized What We Eat

May 22, 2011


Frederick Jones – May 17, 1893 – February 21, 1961



Happy belated birthday to Frederick McKinley Jones! This prolific American inventor is best remembered for creating the first successful mobile refrigeration system and revolutionizing the way Americans eat.



Working with associate Joseph Numero, Jones was given a short deadline to design a mechanical refrigeration system that would hold up on the road in the heat of summer. Spoilage was common as meat, dairy, and produce products were all being transported on the road with ice as the only coolant.



That changed, however, in 1938, when the first refrigeration unit was mounted underneath the base of a truck. Jones introduced the “Model A,” constructed of an engine, a condenser, and a compressor. This unit was built to cool the inside of a trailer and well enough to withstand the unforgiving vibrations of the road.



Jones’ invention was given patent # 2,303,857 and drastically changed America’s eating habits. Fresh produce could now be carried thousands of miles, no matter the time of year, and people were being introduced to foods that they had previously not had access to.



His work continued into the 1940s, where he helped modify units for military service overseas. Now the U.S. could preserve blood, medicine, and food to be used at military hospitals and even open battlefields.



Throughout his lifetime, Jones received 61 patents for different creations, about 40 of which helped to improve refrigeration. In 1991, he was posthumously awarded the National Medal of Technology by President George Bush, making him the first African American to receive that specific honor.


Today, over 75% of food throughout the U.S. is produced, shipped, and stored with refrigeration, and we owe it to the genius and ambitious Frederick Jones.


-S .E.






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