October 21, 2021

Black History Month: Food Safety Pioneer Frederick Jones

Frederick McKinley Jones was a prolific inventor whose ideas improved race cars, boats medical equipment and food safety. His design for the first reliable mobile refrigeration system revolutionized the food and medical industries.  By preserving blood and medecine for army hospitals and allowing fresh food to travel great distances without spoiling, refrigerated transportation changed the notions of seasonal and regional foods, opened trade doors for crops from around the world and paved the way for frozen foods and supermarkets.

frederick-jonesJones was born on May 17, 1893 in Covington, Kentucky. He left school before graduating and worked at a garage before enlisting in the army to serve as a member of the 809 Pioneer Infantry as an electrician in France during WWI.

Jones repaired, built and raced cars and was constantly inventing things. In 1935, he designed the mobile refrigeration unit that led to the formation of the Thermo King Corp. in Minneapolis. Jone received a patent for the design in 1941. When it was acquired by Ingersoll-Rand Co. in 1997, Thermo King was an international company with over $1 billion in annual sales.

When he died on February 21, 1961 Jones held 61 patents. He was posthumously awarded the National Medal of Technology, one of the highest honors an inventor can receive. Jones was the first Black inventor to ever receive such an honor


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