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A refrigerator is a machine that freezes or cools food or drinks in order to preserve them. The refrigerator is an important invention as it allows humans to store food for longer periods of time which gives them access to a potentially healthier and well-balanced diet.

For thousands of years, humans attempted numerous ways to preserve their food in order to survive. Humans have spiced, salted, pickled, dried, cured, and sealed their food, yet none of those methods can be seen as effective as the modern refrigerator.

In 1805, a man by the name of Oliver Evans created a design for a refrigeration machine that would be powered by vapor. Although Evans designed the machine, he never actually built his idea. In 1835, an inventor named Jacob Perkins made some changes to Evans’ original idea and created a patent for an "apparatus and means for producing ice, and in cooling fluids."

Since 1835, the system for mechanical refrigeration quickly swept America and then the world. Refrigeration technology was used primarily for commercial businesses before it made their way into the domestic sphere. By the 1920s, domestic refrigeration units were built and installed in American homes and forever changed how Americans preserved their food.

Refrigerators are an essential invention in the modern world. Dairy goods, meats, produce, and many other quickly perishable items are now allowed to be preserved for a longer time. Since refrigeration cools food down to roughly 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it eliminates the growth of harmful bacteria that would multiply in warmer temperatures. Critics argue that refrigeration has been a key contributor to the rise in obesity throughout the modern world by allowing for more food to be stocked and edible at a moment's notice. With less of a strain on food preparation and preservation, society as a whole can live more productive much easier lives, all thanks to the refrigerator.

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Benefits of Refrigeration

  • Perishable goods can be safely imported and exported great distances
  • Food prices dropped due to availability
  • Preservation of organs for transplant
  • Rise of supermarkets that carry a wide array of foods
  • Less food waste and spoilage
  • Meals are easier to prepare
  • Greater prevention of food poisoning
Learn more about inventions and discoveries that have changed the world in our Picture Encyclopedia of Innovations!
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