Frederic Tudor and Ice

Frederic Tudor, a young man from a rich family in Boston, once visited the Carribean (estd year – 1800). He was then seized by an idea – how about shipping New England ice to the Carribean?

After many attempts of shipping ice over and gradually overcoming challenges of transportation and storage (blocks of ice melt slowly so it was possible to move them even without too many innovations), he slowly began to stir up some demand. People in the Caribbean began developing an appetite for iced drinks. While Tudor nearly went bankrupt through the process, his fortunes changed by the end and he ended up a multi-millionaire.

But, this started a unique shift as all previous global trade had been about moving materials from warm places (abundant solar energy) to colder ones – spices, food, etc. The ice trade became very successful and the ice barons of New England became rich.

It is this ice that led to the growth of Chicago. While Chicago became a transportation hub thanks to some excellent engineering and building of railroads, it became the hub of the meat industry due to refrigerated meat. How that happened is coming up next week…

A man who has drank his drinks cold at the same expense for one week can never be presented with them warm again. – Frederick Tudor 🙂


Source and thanks to: How we got to now by Steven Johnson

(This story and quote is part of “The 200 words project.” I aim to synthesize a story from a book (and, occasionally a blog or article) I’ve read within 200 words consecutive Sundays for around 45 weeks of the year.)