Ever since man learned to get fire, imaginative people have been looking for new ways to cook and store more and more delicious food. Farmers and hunters provided raw materials, sailors brought spices from distant lands, and technical progress provided refrigerators and microwaves.

Keep reading to find out what was the most important events in our food history.

Prehistoric times

2.5-1.8 million years ago: In Africa, Homo erectus discovers fire. This discovery may have created a sense of sharing as a group.

2 million years ago: Hominids shift away from the consumption of nuts and berries to begin the consumption of meat

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250,000 years ago: Archeologists estimate that at this time invention of cooking was born, because of discovered hearths. A hearth is a brick or stone-lined fireplace, used to cook food.

40,000 years ago: Isotopic analysis of skeletal remains of Tianyuan man, a modern human from eastern Asia shows the first evidence of human fish consumption.

30,000 years ago: Earliest archaeological evidence for flour, which was likely processed into an unleavened bread, dates to the Upper Palaeolithic in Europe.

rice terrace in korea
Rice terrace in Korea

13,000 BCE: Evidence of the oldest domesticated rice in Korea. This discovery challenged the accepted view that rice cultivation originated in China about 12,000 years ago. That’s why these findings were received by academia with strong skepticism. However Radioactive dating of 59 rice grains found in Korea shows that they are 15,000 years old.

Neolithic

9000 BCE: Potatoes were first domesticated in South America, in the Andean highlands, between Peru and Bolivia.

7000 BCE: Chinese villagers were brewing fermented alcoholic drinks on a small and individual scale, with the production process and methods similar to that of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.

7000 BCE: Sheep, originating from western Asia, was domesticated with the help of dogs prior to the establishment of settled agriculture.

Cattle in mesopotamia
Cattle in Mesopotamia

5000 BCE: Cattle were domesticated in Mesopotamia after settled agriculture was established.

5000 BCE: Farmers find that fresh milk can be stored in a bag made from a calf’s stomach. The substance found in the stomach turns the milk into a firm mass, which is stored much better than fresh milk.

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4500 BCE: The yogurt of digestive-friendly products is discovered by nomadic peoples who store milk in goatskin bags. Bacteria from goatskin ferment the milk and prolong its shelf life.

Before Common Era

3900 BCE: In Mesopotamia (Ancient Iraq), early evidence of beer is a Sumerian poem honoring Ninkasi, the patron goddess of brewing, which contains the oldest surviving beer recipe, describing the production of beer from barley via bread.

3000 BCE: Sumerians tend to fill animal intestines with meat and other products making sausages. To keep the sausage longer, they are salted, boiled, dried or smoked.

Wild board before domestication

2500 BCE: Domestic pigs, which are descended from wild boars, are known to have existed about 2500 BC in modern-day Hungary and in Troy; earlier pottery from Jericho and Egypt depicts wild pigs.

327 BCE: Alexander the Great sends sugar from cane from Persia to Greece. The Romans like the sweet taste, but later sugar is forgotten. The Crusaders are once again making it a coveted commodity in Europe. In 1747, Europeans discovered that sugar could also be obtained from sugar beet. At the beginning of the 19th century, sugar production from beets is gaining momentum in modern-day France, Germany, Austria, and Belgium.

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327-324 BCE: Alexander the Great expedition to India brings the knowledge of rice to Romans. However, the rice did not enter as cultivation: the Romans preferred to import rice wine instead.

Common Era

8th century: The original type of sushi, known today as narezushi (馴れ寿司, 熟寿司), first developed in Southeast Asia and spread to south China, is introduced to Japan.

997: The term “pizza” first appears “in a Latin text from the southern Italian town of Gaeta which claims that a tenant of certain property is to give the bishop of Gaeta ‘Duodecim pizza’ [‘twelve pizzas’] every Christmas Day, and another twelve every Easter Sunday”

1497: Portuguese sailor Vasco da Gama travels to India to end the Venetian merchants’ monopoly on the sale of spices. He then informs the Portuguese ruler that the country also needs secure trade settlements in Africa. The race for the colonies has begun.

1519: The Spanish fleet, led by Ernan Cortes, arrives in Mexico to explore new lands. Cultural exchanges are also beginning. Mexicans get wheat, but European tables are complemented by turkeys, tomatoes, chili, and chocolate.

The potato gathering

16th Century: Spanish warships return home with large gold reserves after the Inca conquest. However, potatoes appear to be of the greatest value, although Europeans are initially skeptical. When potatoes reach northern Europe through the Netherlands, they become the staple food of the poor, especially in Ireland, where one acre (around 4,000 square meters) can feed up to ten people.

1600: When a fork appears in Northern Europe, it is perceived as a very personal thing – when invited to a party, a person takes his personal fork with him. Fine Italians ate with a fork as early as at 1000, but northern Europeans still used their fingers, spoon, and knife.

1782: Mr. Bowier opens the first high-class restaurant “Grand Taverne de Londres” in Paris. Now even people who do not have their own chef can enjoy delicacies.

1809: After long experiments, the Frenchman Nicolas François Apper discovers that food can be stored longer in glass containers kept in boiling water. A year later, Englishman Peter Durand patented the storage of food in metal containers. This is especially useful in the army. The container is opened with a stone or a dagger, but the canister is Invented only 50 years later by the American Ezra Warner.

1847: Joseph Freud mixes cocoa powder with cocoa butter and sugar and for the first time makes a bar of chocolate. In the past, gourmets could enjoy chocolate in cups. In South America, cocoa has been grown as a raw material for delicacies since 1100. BC

1947: The first microwave oven weighs 340 kg. Inventor Percy Spencer patented this stove in 1945. While working with the radar, he has noticed that the waves created by the device melt the chocolate in his pockets.

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