Canned food was invented thanks to Napoleon Bonaparte
During the eighteenth century, the known methods for preserving food were largely ineffective. Back then ice was a scarce commodity, so refrigeration was rare and did not last very long. Curing the food with salt or various spices was another decent technique, but this could only be done with foods such as meat and it altered the food’s taste. This was enough of a nuisance for your average European during the winter, but it was an entirely different can of worms for the military (...or maybe it wasn’t. I guess that expression wouldn’t have existed yet!). Providing sustenance for troops was such a problem that in 1800 Napoleon called for a preservation innovation. He offered a reward of 12,000 francs to anyone who could come up with a better system for conserving his soldiers’ rations.
The man who stepped forward with a solution was one Nicolas Appert. A former chef and brewer, Appert discovered that heat can be used to sterilize food in sealed containers, thereby preserving it. His initial procedure was probably more akin to bottling - he would place food in a closed jar and boil the jar in water for several hours. But after receiving his prize money, he put the cash toward the world’s first cannery and helped make our modern food industry what it is today.