When I decided to tackle this topic, a vague idea spurred it. I think I heard somewhere that Napoleon was responsible for the first canned food because he offered a reward to the person who could help him with this. He wanted canned food to feed his marking army. Is it true? We'll find out.
The French Ministry of the Interior began offering the prize in 1795
because they needed a reliable source of food for its troops who were
flung from Europe to the Caribbean.
Early in his career Nicholas Appert created a method of placing food in champagne bottles sealed with a mixture of cheese and lime. By 1803, he moved to wide necked glass jars to can his vegetables, fruit, meat, dairy, and fish. Around the same time, he sent food out with the Navy to see how they did. In 1804, his factory began producing tin cans soldiered shut for meat. They left the cans for months and those that did not swell were considered safe for sale.
In 1810 Nicholas Appert won a the 12,000 Franc reward from the French Ministry of the Interior. This was about the same time Napoleon as emperor was sending his military out to other countries and France still needed a way to feed the military and this met their needs. Unfortunately, Appert's company never made a profit and he died a pauper, only to be buried on a paupers grave in 1841.
This new method spread to England where another Frenchman used it to create canned goods but he sold the patent for a tin food container that was sealed and heated to British businessman Bryan Donkin who spent two years making it so it could be used in mass production of food. With another man named Gamble, he formed a company to sell canned beef.
In 1813, the Royal Navy purchased and fed 156 pounds of tinned foods to sick sailors because they believed scurvy was caused by eating too much salted meat. In addition, the navy considered the tinned food to help all sick sailors regardless of their illness.
Canned foods now played a huge part in the Crimean War, the Civil War, the Franco-Prussian War, and by 1873 American companies such as Campbell, Borden, and Heinz were exporting canned foods to the rest of the world. In 1904, Max Ams Machine Company in New York patented the double seam used in today's cans.
If you can get your hands on some of the old Sears catalogues(pre 1900), you'll find a section filled with canned foods people could have ordered shipped to them. Part of the modern world.
Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.