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the History of Dog Food

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Ok I have been on a roll with trivia, I love reading useless information so here goes another one (check out my other post in The Cat Lounge)

Kibble Me This: A Dog Food Timeline

-More then 2,000 years ago, Roman poet and philosopher Marcus Terentius Varro wrote the first farming manual. In it he advised giving farm dogs barley bread soaked in milk and bones from dead sheep

-During the Middle Ages, it was common for European Royalty to have kennels for their hounds. Kennel cooks would make huge stews, mostly grains and vegetables with some meat or meat by-products (the heart, liver, lungs of various livestock)

-Dogs in common households had meager diets. They were fed only what the owners could spare. A normal domesticated dog's diet consisted of crusts of bread, bare bones, potatos, cabbage or whatever they could scrounge on their own

-In the 18th century, farm dogs,which had to be fairly healthy to do their jobs, were regularly fed mixes of grains and lard. In cities, you could make a living by searching the streets for dead horses, cutting them up and selling the meat to wealthy dog owners

-The very wealthy throughout history fed their dogs food which was much better then what most humans ate. In the 1800s, Empress Tzu Hsi of China was known to feed her Pekingese shark fins, quail breasts, and antelope milk. European nobility fed their dogs roast duck, cakes, candies and even liquor.

Then in the mid-1800s, as the Industrial Revolution created a growing middle class with more money and more leisure time, pets began to be reguarded as luxury items by everyday folk. Result: pet food became more closely scrutinized.

More pets and more money meant a new profession: veterinary medicine. It was officially founded in the US in 1895, but many self-styled experts were already giving advice on dog diets. Many said that dogs needed to be more civilized and since wild dogs ate raw meat, domesticated dogs shouldn't (That advice influenced the pet food industry for decades)

In the late 1850s, a young electrician in Cincinnati named James Spratt went to London to sell lightening rods. When his ship arrived, crew members threw the left over ship's biscuits onto the dock, where they were devoured by hordes of waiting dogs. This gave Spratt an idea. "Ship's Biscuits" or hard tack, were the standard fare for sailors for centuries. Flour, water, salt were mixed into a stiff dough, baked and left to harden and dry. The biscuits weere easily stored and had an extremely long shelf life, which was important in the days before refridgeration. And they looked a lot like todays dog biscuits.

Spratt had the idea that he could make cheap, easy-to-serve biscuits and seel them to the growing number of urban dog owners. His recipe: a baked mixture of wheat, beet root, and vegetables bound together by beef blood. When Spratt's Patent Meal Fibrine Dog Cakes came on the market in 1860, the pet-food industry was born. Spratt's Dog Cakes were a hit in England, so in 1872 he took the business to New York...and began the American Pet Food Industry.

Others followed in Spratt's footsteps:
-In the 1880sm a Boston veterinarian introduced A.C. Daniels Medicated Dog Bread

-The F.H. Bennett Biscuit company opened in 1908, making biscuits shaped like bones. Bennett also made the first puppy food and was the first to package different size kibble for different size breeds.

-In 1931, The National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) bought Bennett's company and named the biscuits Milkbones. Then they hired 3,000 salesmen with the specific goal of getting Milkbones into food stores -and the national consciousness. For the first time, dog biscuits were a part of regular grocery shopping.

-In 1922, Chappel Brothers of Rockford, Illinois, introduced Ken-L Ration, the first canned dog food in the US. It was horse meat. In 1930 they started sponsering a popular radio show called The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin. Ken-L Ration became such a success that by the mid-1930s, they were breeding horses just for dog food and slaughtering 50,000 of them a year.

By 1941 canned food had a 90% share of the market, until the Us entered WW2 and the government started rationing tin and meat. then dry food became popular again.

In 1950 the Ralston Purina Company started using a cooking extruder to make their Chex cereal. Here's how it worked: ingredients were pushed through a tube, cooked under high pressure, and puffed with air. This allowed Chex to stay crisp when milk was added.

At about the same time, manufacturers were getting complaints about the appearance, texture, and digestibility of dry dog food. Purina's pet food division borrowed an extruder from the cereal division and experimented with it in secret for 3 years. The result: Purina Dog Chow. Dogs loved it, it digested well and it quickley became the number one dog food in the nation and it still is today.

In the early 1950s, Ken-L Ration made the jump from radio to TV advertising, running commercials on wholesome shows like The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. "This dog food uses only USDA, government-inspected horse-meat!")

In 1964, the Pet Food Institute, a lobbying group for the now gigantic pet food industry, began a campaign to get people to stop feeding their dogs anything BUT packaged dog food. The funded "reports" that appeared in magazines, detailing the benefits of processed dog food and even produced a radio spot about 'the dangers of table scraps'.

The dog food industry was spending an incredible $50 million a year on advertising. Commercials centered around the 'beef wars" with competiting companies all claiming to have the most pure beef. (Bonanza star Lorn Greene did a TV commercial for Alpo...holding a sirloin steak)

In the 1960s and 1970s, factors such as increased numbers of breeds and rising crime rates made dog ownership skyrocket. By 1975 there were more then 1,500 dog foods on the market.

Today, more then 1,600 square miles of soybeans, 2,100 square miles of corn, and 1.7 million tons of meat and poultry are made into pet food every year. There are more then 65 million dogs in the US and pet food is an $11 billion industry...and growing.
post #2 of 3
that was very interesting! Thanks for sharing!
post #3 of 3
thanks for that, it was really interesting
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