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Burn the ice : the American culinary revolution and its end / Kevin Alexander

Author:
Alexander, Kevin (Food writer) http://id.loc.gov/vocabulary/relators/aut http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/no2019049158 http://viaf.org/viaf/49155564061713002346  Search this
Physical description:
371 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Date:
2019
Topic:
Cooks  Search this
Creative ability in cooking  Search this
Food industry and trade  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1110820

Kubla Khan Frozen Food Company Records

Creator:
Kubla Khan Frozen Food Company (Portland, Oregon)  Search this
Loy, Percy W.  Search this
Wong, Robert  Search this
Extent:
20.5 Cubic feet
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Packaging
Clippings
Advertising
Correspondence
Recipes
Business records
Photographs
Labels
Articles
Date:
1931-2006
Summary:
The collection documents Kubla Khan Frozen Food Company, a Portland, Oregon company that manufactures, packages and distributes frozen Chinese food from 1950-present.
Scope and Contents:
The records of a Portland, Oregon company that made, packaged and distributed frozen Chinese food. The collection includes the incorporation papers of the business, correspondence, photographs, product packaging, advertising and marketing materials, and business records.
Arrangement:
The collection is divided into five series.

Series 1: Background and Biographical Materials, 1946-2005

Series 2: Business Records, 1931-2006

Series 3: Advertising, Packaging and Promotional Materials, 1956-[1995?]

Series 4: United States Department of Agriculture and Federal Food Administration Materials, 1959-2003

Series 5: Food Industry Materials, 1949-2006
Biographical / Historical:
Percy Wallace Loy (1920-2006) was born in Vancouver, Washington, to Kong (1867-1951) and Rose Loy (nee Fong), Chinese immigrants who were in the dairy business. Loy attended the Providence Academy in Portland, Oregon graduating in 1937. Loy enlisted in the Army (1943-1949) and became a navigator, bombardier, and pilot, serving during World War II. He retired as a lieutenant colonel, but was unable to find work with an airline after the war. He and his brother-in-law, Robert Wong, started the Kubla Khan Food Company, selling frozen Chinese entrees at a time when frozen foods had not yet caught on and the infrastructure to store, transport and distribute them didn't yet exist. The company popularized both frozen foods and Chinese food in the Northwest region of the United States. He was very active in the frozen foods industry in the Northwest, campaigning for the industry and working at convincing grocers of their profitability. He sold the manufacturing part of the company in the mid-2000s and died in 2006.

Though most food preservation practices (curing, smoking and canning) have their origins in Europe, the practice of freezing foods for consumer use was, for the most part, started and developed in America. Even today, frozen convenience foods are considered an American oddity and are not widely embraced in other countries.

In the 1920s Clarence Birdseye experimented with freezing food in small quantities, enabling them to reach a lower temperature faster. In the decades that followed, Birdseye tested and developed better packaging and ways of packing food more tightly inside the packaging. However, consumers remained skeptical about the safety and quality of this novelty, as were grocers about its profitability, in addition to concerns about the effects of the industrialization of food. It took about twenty more years to turn this situation around and to resolve problems with distribution and transport. Birdseye had to take huge risks to get there, beginning with enlisting the aid of a small number of stores, to which he supplied free freezers containing a variety of frozen foods sold on consignment, and hiring demonstrators to convince consumers that frozen foods were the future. Very slowly, frozen foods began to catch on. It wasn't until the 1950s, when frozen TV dinners were introduced, that frozen foods became popular with consumers.

Against this background, Percy Loy and Robert Wong started Kubla Khan in 1950 in the basement of a Chinese restaurant in Portland. Wong died a few years after the company was started. He supported his family by selling insurance for a short while, and then opened a small Japanese restaurant, eventually starting the Kubla Khan Company as a sideline, when he saw a hole in the market for frozen foods, the convenience of which he thought would appeal to consumers. He was active in getting freezers in stores that had not had them before.

While they were not the first to offer frozen Chinese food—Breyer's Ice Cream had its "Golden Pagoda" brand including frozen chow mein and chop suey—Kubla Khan had little other competition at the time, and most stores stored their frozen products in their ice cream cases. The introduction and popularity of TV dinners helped Kubla Khan's business thrive, as groceries added freezer cases to accommodate the TV dinners, and they now had space to add more frozen products. Kubla Khan kept up with the changing technology, but they held onto their cooking techniques, continuing to cook much of their food in woks or with steam, eschewing the automated, large batch vat cooking that other makers used. Loy said that this ensured uniform heating and an authentic taste. Mr. Loy built some of the equipment himself, with frozen food being so new that the machinery was not readily available in the Northwestern states. Kubla Khan exported its products to Asia, enabling the company to boast that it was so authentic it was served in the Orient. They also bottled their own sauces using their own recipes.

The Kubla Khan Company was not the largest Chinese food manufacturer, but it was a pioneer. They helped popularize something previously considered foreign and exotic—Chinese food. They helped popularize frozen food, something taken for granted now with probably (an unscientific estimate) 10% of the space in most grocery stores being devoted to frozen food. They did this not only with their products but with Mr. Loy's activism in promoting frozen foods. La Choy, by comparison, did not start making frozen foods until the 1960s.

Loy was a tireless activist in promoting frozen foods, campaigning for the industry and working at convincing grocers of their profitability. His goals were building consumer trust and making Chinese food accessible. He was also active in his community, trying to help other minorities start businesses. A strong believer in giving back to his community, he helped several colleges (Lewis and Clark, Willamette University and others) start up foreign exchange programs. He helped several former employees start their own businesses. He led the first trade delegation to China after Nixon's visit.

The Kubla Khan Company is still in business, but Mr. Loy sold the manufacturing part of the company in the mid-2000s. Loy married Irene F. Lee in 1949. The couple had six children children, Martin (d. 1958), David (d. 1965), Michael, Deborah, Marilyn, and Daria. Loy's daughter, Marilyn Loy now runs the company, which is limited to the import/export aspect.
Provenance:
Collection donated by Michael Loy and Daria Loy-Goto, 2013.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.

Social Security numbers are present and have been rendered unreadable and redacted. Researchers may use the photocopies in the collection. The remainder of the collection has no restrictions.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Restaurants -- Oregon  Search this
advertising -- Food  Search this
advertising -- 1950-2000  Search this
Cooking, Chinese  Search this
Ethnic food industry  Search this
Family-owned business enterprises  Search this
Frozen foods -- Oregon  Search this
Food -- Oregon  Search this
Food industry and trade -- Oregon  Search this
Genre/Form:
Packaging
Clippings -- 20th century
Advertising -- 20th century
Correspondence -- 1950-2000
Recipes
Business records -- 1950-2000
Photographs -- 1950-2000
Labels -- 20th century
Articles -- 20th century
Citation:
Kubla Khan Frozen Food Company Records, 1931-2006, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1316
See more items in:
Kubla Khan Frozen Food Company Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-1316
Additional Online Media:

[Trade catalogs from Cutler Mfg. Co.]

Company Name:
Cutler Mfg. Co.  Search this
Notes content:
Conveying equipment for sorting and sizing fruit.
Includes:
Trade catalog
Black and white images
Physical description:
1 piece; 1 box
Language:
English
Type of material:
Trade catalogs
Trade literature
Place:
Portland, Oregon, United States
Date:
1900s
Topic (Romaine term):
Materials handling equipment (includes barrels; bottling and filling; casters; chains; etc.)  Search this
Foods and beverage products and processing equipment (including brewing; distilleries; beer; wine; etc.)  Search this
Topic:
Barrels  Search this
Beverage industry  Search this
Bottling  Search this
Distilleries  Search this
Food industry and trade  Search this
Industrial equipment  Search this
Record ID:
SILNMAHTL_12540
Location:
Trade Literature at the American History Museum Library
Collection:
Smithsonian Libraries Trade Literature Collections
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILNMAHTL_12540

[Trade catalogs from Lipmans]

Company Name:
Lipmans  Search this
Notes content:
clothing ; perfume ; cosmetics ; crystal ; glassware ; food ; sleepwear ; bedding ; shoes ; accessories; clothing ; toys ; games ; electronics ; radio ; books ; televisions ; china
Includes:
Trade catalog and price lists
Color images
Physical description:
1 piece; 1 box
Language:
English
Type of material:
Trade catalogs
Trade literature
Place:
Portland, Oregon, United States
Date:
1900s
Topic (Romaine term):
Ceramics; pottery; glass; crystal; china; bricks; and stones  Search this
Clothing (including hats; shoes; accessories; etc)  Search this
Cosmetics  Search this
Department store; dry goods and mail order catalogs  Search this
Electrical apparatus and equipment  Search this
Foods and beverage products and processing equipment (including brewing; distilleries; beer; wine; etc.)  Search this
Radios and radio equipment  Search this
Television  Search this
Toys and games  Search this
Topic:
Beverage industry  Search this
Ceramics  Search this
Clothing and dress  Search this
Commercial catalogs  Search this
Cosmetics  Search this
Department stores  Search this
Distilleries  Search this
Dress accessories  Search this
Dry-goods  Search this
Electric apparatus and appliances  Search this
Food industry and trade  Search this
Games  Search this
Glass  Search this
Hats  Search this
Porcelain  Search this
Pottery  Search this
Radio supplies industry  Search this
Shoes  Search this
Television -- Receivers and reception  Search this
Television supplies industry  Search this
Toy making  Search this
Toys  Search this
Record ID:
SILNMAHTL_42630
Collection:
Smithsonian Libraries Trade Literature Collections
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILNMAHTL_42630

Food activism : agency, democracy and economy / edited by Carole Counihan and Valeria Siniscalchi

Author:
Counihan, Carole 1948-  Search this
Siniscalchi, Valeria  Search this
Physical description:
xi, 251 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Type:
Books
Date:
2014
Topic:
Food supply--Social aspects  Search this
Food supply  Search this
Food industry and trade  Search this
Agriculture--Economic aspects  Search this
Agriculture--Social aspects  Search this
Political participation  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1046183

[Trade catalogs from Key Equipment Co.]

Company Name:
Key Equipment Co.  Search this
Notes content:
Food processing equipment: conveyors; corn grader; cluster breakers; defatters; feeders; french fry equipment; mixed vegetable proportioner; palletizer; podders; shakers; timers; etc.
Includes:
Trade catalog
Black and white images
Physical description:
1 piece; 1 box
Language:
English
Type of material:
Trade catalogs
Trade literature
Place:
Milton-Freewater, Oregon, United States
Date:
1900s
Topic (Romaine term):
Foods and beverage products and processing equipment (including brewing; distilleries; beer; wine; etc.)  Search this
Topic:
Beverage industry  Search this
Distilleries  Search this
Food industry and trade  Search this
Record ID:
SILNMAHTL_23556
Location:
Trade Literature at the American History Museum Library
Collection:
Smithsonian Libraries Trade Literature Collections
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILNMAHTL_23556

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