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The new ice age

1930 Clarence Birdseye, right, launches retail sales of frozen food products in Springfield, Massachusetts.

1939 The first ready-cooked It was now possible to buy a cooked meal and heat it up.

1940s Freeze-drying was introduced in 1940. Food was frozen and dried, so that it could be kept in packets out of the freezer.

New frozen products were introduced, including pastry, soup, chips, Mexican food, whipped toppings, meat pies and pizza.

1950s Two-thirds of food shops have frozen food cabinets. TV dinners are introduced in the USA. In 1954, the Lyons Maid Mivvi, ice cream on a stick with a frozen juice shell, goes on sale in the UK. First home freezers go on sale and TV advertising starts in the UK.

1960s Microwave oven introduced.

Frozen food sales soar in 1969 when astronauts, returning from landing on the Moon, eat ready-prepared frozen food.

1980s Fast-food outlets use frozen food - hamburgers, chips, milkshakes and buns.

1990s One-dish ready-prepared micro-wavable meals are introduced, including Indian and Chinese dishes.

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