May 14, 1853

On May 14, 1853, Gail Borden, land surveyor, newspaper publisher and inventor, patented his process for condensed milk. That’s right, his process. In 1853, Gail was a boy’s name. Well, it really wasn’t, but he was Gail Borden, Jr. Which means that his dad, Gail Borden, Sr., was determined to not be the only boy with a girl’s name. Gail, Jr., even had a beard, but no mustache. A thick, luxurious beard. An inventor’s beard. He could have grown a good mustache, but choose not to. But less about beards and more about his invention. Condensed milk was his big invention. He was able to use a vacuum pan to reduce milk without scorching or curdling it. This product could also be canned and kept without spoiling for a significant amount of time and needed no refrigeration, which was very important in the 1850s. When the Civil War broke out, he became a very rich man by selling his condensed milk to the Union. He also tried to sell his earlier two inventions to them, which was the meat biscuit and a terraqueous machine. The meat biscuit was really just meat jerky, and the Union Army could get that from anyone. And the terraqueous machine was a sail-powered wagon that was designed to travel over land and sea. Not well, though. Not well. All because you have one really good idea, it doesn’t mean that you can catch lightning in a bottle twice. Or condensed milk in a can.

About Joel Byers

Born in North Georgia and educated at some very fine public institutions. Real education started after graduating from college and then getting married and raising two boys. Has the ability to see the funny and absurd in most things and will always remark on it, even if it means getting the stink-eye from his victims.
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