Human history is built on food. Just about any social occasion or backroom deal, no matter how small, has had some kind of food present. Armies need it to fight, people need it to live, and economies need it to function. The most historically important foodstuffs are more than consumable quantities... they've tipped balances of power in the world.
The foods that changed history come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors - from sweet to salty to savory. However, they always managed to fill a specific need at a specific time. Whether it be a new way of persevering crops, a delicacy for the nobility, or a way to feed the masses, food has been the cornerstone of humanity's foundation.
But what foodstuffs were the most influential of all time? You'd think that would depend on the time and place, but most of the big discoveries still have relevance in today's world.
The original spice, salt was not only loved but needed in a daily diet, as a preservative, and as an antiseptic. It was so sought after that it's actually been used as a currency. The world "salary" actually comes from a time when workers were paid in salt. It has also set up many areas as economic powers, such as areas of France and the city of Venice, which had access to a great deal of salt they could sell.
#2 on The Most Useful Spices
#9 on The Best Survival Foodssee more on Salt
Grain (and by extension bread) feeds the world, and has fed it for almost as long as recorded history. Ancient Egypt's chief export was grain, which made it an incredibly important part of the Roman Empire. It also led to the discovery of beer, which you can bet millions are incredibly thankful for.
#21 on The Best Survival Foodssee more on Wheat
People love sugar, to the point where it's become one of the biggest cash crops in human history. In fact, the huge demand for the product formed the basis for much of the economic practices during the colonial era. Harvesting and refining sugar cane required a great deal of man power... which gave a lot of business to the transatlantic slave trade.
#40 on The Best Gluten Free Foods
#10 on The Best Survival Foodssee more on Sugar
Tea was so popular in the colonial world, it literally led to corporate espionage and political revolutions. By the 17th century, the tea had become a staple of British culture which led to a rivalry between European and Chinese manufacturers. Many years later, a heavy tax on tea drove the American colonies to commit one of the inciting incidents of the American Revolution - the Boston Tea Party.
#30 on The Best Breakfast Foodssee more on Tea