Senior Insider
"An army marches on its stomach," Napoleon is supposed to have said. But unfortunately for the armies of his time, the food available to the stomachs of those hungry soldiers was neither appetizing nor nutritious--consisting primarily of hard bread and salted meat. Napoleon wanted to better feed his army, so he offered a prize of 12,000 francs to anyone who could invent a better way to store and preserve food.

The chef Nicolas Appert rose to the challenge. After years of trial and error he eventually perfected a method of putting food in jars and then submerging the jars in boiling water to preserve the food and seal the jars. In other words, he invented canning.

Appert won the prize and the fame that came with it. The process he invented is essentially the same process we still use today.

Appert is still celebrated and well-known in France (where

"canning" is called "appertization"), but he has faded into obscurity in the rest of the world, despite being responsible for one of humanity's most important inventions.

Nicolas Appert born November 17, 1749