Food technologistAaron Brody

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Born in Boston, Mass., Brody started at MIT at age 17. While still studying for a degree in Food Technology, he worked on the side at General Foods’ Birdseye Fisheries Lab, working on a team that was the first to successfully create frozen fish sticks. He stayed on at MIT through his Ph.D, and still worked on the side — for Raytheon Manufacturing Co., where he worked on a team to develop the first microwave oven. His studies were interrupted when he was drafted for the Korean War; he served within the U.S. Once discharged from the military, Brody finished his doctorate. For his thesis he invented the “strain gage denture tenderometer” to study how irradiation, processing, and storage affected food texture. Life magazine was so intrigued by the device they did a full-page spread on it. The machine is now displayed in the MIT Museum.

Brody in 2016 (family photo by Robyn Brody, Aaron’s son)

Once in industry, Brody continued to be wildly prolific in wildly different areas of food technology. At M&M Candies he adapted a British sweet into “M&M’s Fruit Chewies” — which was later renamed Starburst — and helped to perfect Pop Rocks candies. At Whirlpool Corp. he led the development of modified atmosphere packaging, invented an odor control system for refrigerators, invented a thermoelectric refrigerator/freezer, and invented the Total Environmental Control (“Tectrol”) controlled-atmosphere process for food preservation. At Container Corporation of America he led the development of the Versaform insert injection molding system, and was the company’s Marketing Development Manager. By the time he left industry, Brody was the lead or co-inventor on multiple patents, mostly focused on keeping food fresh and uncontaminated.

So, what next? Consulting and teaching. He taught food packaging and food product development and marketing courses at the University of Georgia, MBA strategic marketing and product development courses at Saint Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania, and packaging courses at Michigan State University. He wrote numerous articles — and ten textbooks — on food technology, marketing, and packaging. Then came the honors: Dr. Brody received the highest industry award, the Riester-Davis Award for Lifetime Achievement in Food Packaging, from The Institute of Food Technologists’ Food Packaging Division (and the award was later renamed the Riester-Davis-Brody Award.) He was the first recipient of the Institute of Food Technologists’ Industrial Scientist Award for “major technical contribution to the advancement of the food industry.” In 1995, Dr. Brody was inducted into the Packaging Hall of Fame, and in 2000 he was awarded the Nicholas Appert Award by the Institute of Food Technologists in recognition of his lifetime contributions. He died July 26 from Alzheimer’s disease, at 90.

From This is True for 1 August 2021