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Thumbnail of Gail Borden (source)
Gail Borden
(9 Nov 1801 - 11 Jan 1874)

American manufacturer, inventor and food scientist who invented a commercial method of condensing milk to preserve it.

Borden's Award-Winning Meat Biscuit

Articles from: Scientific American (1851 - 1853)

The Scientific American periodical was published in New York.

27 Sep 1851

Great Exhibition

A correspondent of the Journal of Commerce, in reviewing our part of the exhibition, thus refers to the Meat Biscuit patented by G. Borden, Jr., of Galveston, Texas, the merits of which we have before noticed in the Scientific American.

“Of the substances used for food, that which attracted most attention for its novelty and its adaption to numerous important practical uses in the Meat Biscuit of Mr. Gail Borden, Jr., of Texas. Its great value was so obvious, provided it were found to possess the qualities claimed for it, that it was submitted to very careful and repeated trials by the jury on ‘Substances used for Food,’ who had it cooked for themselves. Not content with this, they had analyses of it made in the laboratory of Dr. Lyon Playfair, the distinguished Commissioner in charge the Department of Juries, for the purpose of testing its nutritive and preservative qualities. These analyses were made, of course, without the intervention in any way of the proprietor, Mr. Borden; I have obtained for him a certified copy of the letter of Dr. Playfair, communicating the same to the Jury. From this it appears that the preservative qualities of the Meat Biscuit are perfect; the fecula or farinaceous matter being also subjected to careful microscopic examination, its high nutritive properties are evinced, as the analyses show 32 per cent. of nitrogenous and flesh-forming materials. The jury marked their sense of its value by awarding the highest evidence of their approbation to its inventor. A small canister of it was sent to Sir John Herschel, who unsolicited, wrote to Mr.B. a letter testifying to its excellence. Count de Kergolay has deemed it of such merit as to present it to the Agricultural Society of France, who highly appreciated it, and appointed one of its scientific Committees to investigate its Qualities more thoroughly than could be done in general seance. Among the various preparations of food presented in the exhibition, no one was deemed worthy of the same high approbation as the Meat Biscuit. This was the only contribution, I believe from Texas.”

Samples of this very nutritive substance may be seen at the office of John H. Brower & Co. in this city.

We shall take occasion soon to express our ideas concerning the causes which have operated against us during the progress of the fair.

From: Scientific American, Vol. 7, No. 2, 11. (source)

25 Oct 1851

London Great Exhibition - First Prizes - Meat Biscuit

The premiums awarded are of two kinds. Of the first class medals five have been awarded to the following American citizens

To C. H. McCormick, Chicago, Ill., for his "Virginia Reaper.”

To David Dick, Meadville, Pennsylvania, for his “Anti-Friction Press.”

To Charles Goodyear, New Haven, Conn., for his “India Rubber Fabrics.”

To Bond & Son, Boston, Mass., for an “Electric Clock.”

To Gail Borden, Jr., Texas, for his ”Meat Biscuit.”

Respecting three of these inventions, the Scientific American is particularly identified: Dick’s press was illustrated in our 5th Vol., and McCormick’s Reaper on page 164, of our last Vol., but at this time we wish to direct public attention to the Meat Biscuit discovery. One of the gold medals of highest merit has been awarded to Mr. Gail Borden, Jr., of Texas.

The value of this medal and the importance attached to the articles to which it has been awarded, may be estimated from the fact that only five medals of this class were granted for articles from the United States, and only one hundred and sixty-nine from all the multitudinous profusion of articles exhibited from the four quarters of the globe, at the great Fair in London.

The medals awarded by the Council of Chairmen, to the inventors of the highest practical ability, are of gold, and are styled council medals.

The other medals awarded agreeably to the recommendations of the several juries, without being the subject of discussion in the Council of Chairmen, are of bronze, and styled prize medals.

The patent for this valuable invention, we had the pleasure of securing for Mr. Borden, and the opinion which we have more than once given, respecting its great merits, has been corroborated by the highest council which ever sat in any nation, to decide upon the merits of useful discoveries. Mr Borden has taken an office in this city on the cor. of William St. and Maiden Lane. Not a ship should sail or a voyager leave our port without being provided with his incomparable meat biscuit.

From: Scientific American, Vol. 7, No. 6, 45. (source)

16 Oct 1852

Fair of the American Institute

MEAT BISCUIT—Mr. Gail Borden, Jr., exhibits some of his excellent Meat Biscuit and Beef Lard. This article of food was esteemed by a Committee at the World's Fair, composed of eminent chemists, one of the greatest and most beneficial of modern inventions. It was made the special subject of a lecture, and received a counsel medal. This American article of food for travellers and sea voyagers is one of the best discoveries of modern times. One pound of it contains the nutriment of 8 lbs. of beef, and it will keep sweet and good for a long time. The beef-lard is an article as beautiful in color as our finest butter, and for many purposes is better than lard. Our housewives do not yet know its real value for the purpose of cooking.

From: Scientific American, Vol. 8, No. 8, 34. (source)

12 Nov 1853

Crystal Palace

Meat Biscuit.—No article in the Crystal Palace is of more importance than the “Patent Meat Biscuit “of Gail Borden, Jr. It was on exhibition at the World’s Fair in London, and took one of the first prize medal. So very highly was this American production esteemed, that the celebrated chemist who was Chairman of the Jurors declared it was “one of the most important discoveries of the age. Its value as a compact, portable, preserved food is of great importance to our country. One pound of it contains as much nutriment as eight pounds of beef. It can be carried in canisters from pole to pole without fear of spoiling. It is exceedingly useful for seamen and travellers, and in this respect it is more valuable for our people, who are such great sailors and travellers, than any other people in the world.

From: Scientific American, Vol. 9, No. 9, 70. (source)

See also:
  • Science Quotes by Gail Borden.
  • 9 Nov - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Borden's birth.
  • Borden's Meat Biscuit - his first invention - preserved meat extracts. It drew much praise in several articles in the Scientific American periodical.
  • Condensed Milk - Borden's invention drew competitors, as shown in this Manufacturer and Builder article (May 1878).
  • Borden's Condensed Milk - was his great invention that launched his very successful diary company supplying his Eagle brand milk to cities distant from farm supply. It was also the subject of several Scientific American articles.
  • Gail Borden and his Inventions - Links to articles on his inventions on this site.
  • Gail Borden - A biography published in 1866 from A History of American Manufactures from 1608 to 1860.
  • Military Use of Borden's Meat Biscuit was recognized as highly suitable for meal rations, and was favorably compared in the Scientific American periodical against the difficulties experienced by other countries having to preserve meats for their military needs.
  • Gail Borden's First Invention was patented under the title “Preparation of Portable Soup-Bread”, issued as U.S. Patent No. 7,066, on 5 Feb 1850.
  • Gail Borden's Condensed Milk Patent gives Borden's description of his method in U.S. Patent No. 15,553 issued 19 Aug 1856 - the first effective commercial process in the U.S. for condensing and preserving milk.
  • Gail Borden's Fruit Juice Concentrating Patent shows his continuing interest in preserving more types of food detailed in U.S. Patent 35,919, issued 22 July 1862, titled “Improvement in Concentrating and Preserving For Use Cider and Other Juices of Fruits.”
  • Gail Borden: Dairyman to a Nation, by Joe Bertram Frantz. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for Gail Borden.

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
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