One of the most famous names in American food is Borden's. This tale of Gail Borden, an inventor and classic American eccentric, comes from Everybody's Business.
MALL IS BEAUTIFUL
"Gail Borden was obsessed by the idea that food could be preserved by condensing, but his early experiments were unsuccessful... .A condensed meat 'biscuit' he invented for Texans headed for California during the 1850s Gold Rush proved to be nutritious, but tasted awful.... Undeterred, Borden continued his experiments with dehydrating and concentrating foods. 'I mean to put a potato into a pillbox, a pumpkin into a tablespoon, the biggest sort of watermelon into a saucer,' he declared."
THE PERFECT HOST
"He once subjected friends to a dinner party consisting entirely of the products of his experiments: condensed and concentrated soups, main course, fruits, and extracts. While Borden ate heartily and discoursed enthusiastically on the fine flavors of his concoctions, his guests toyed unhappily with their food. All firmly refused second helpings. "Afterward, the unfortunate diners were lured onto another of Borden's inventions, the 'land schooner,' a contraption that used wind power to move on land. Its sails raised, the schooner moved down the beach, gaining speed at an alarming rate. Borden's passengers yelled for him to stop—at which point it was discovered that the braking mechanism was ineffective. As panic broke out, Borden swung the rudder the wrong way, and the schooner splashed into the waves, capsizing and dumping all hands into the sea. Unhurt, the group scrambled ashore. 'Where's Gail?' inquired one of Borden's dripping guests.... 'Drowned, I.. .hope!' "
CONDENSED FOR ETERNITY
'Neither drowned nor discouraged, Borden went on to found what became a giant corporation, built on his 1863 discovery of a process for making condensed milk. As he rode the train to work in New York City each day, he passed a cemetery where he had built his own tombstone—in the shape of a can of condensed milk."