Weird History

The Most Historically Important Foodstuffs  

Aaron Edwards
778 votes 236 voters 43.2k views 18 items

List Rules Vote up the foodstuffs you think had the biggest historical impact when they were introduced.

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.

Bread is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Historically Important Foodstuffs
Photo: Chiot's Run/Flickr

Bread was everything to the common Frenchman's diet in 18th century Paris. It was so important that bakers were considered public servants and the police controlled bread production. So when there was a massive bread shortage that led to a famine, you better believe everyone was eager to overthrow the government. What followed was known as the French Revolution.

More Bread

#45 of 388 on The Most Delicious Foods in the World #80 of 281 on The Very Best Snacks to Eat Between Meals, Ranked #27 of 88 on The Best Breakfast Foods #4 of 89 on The Best Smells in the World

Was this an important food?
see more on Bread
Wheat is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Historically Important Foodstuffs
Photo: Metaweb (FB)/GNU Free Documentation License

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.

Was this an important food?
see more on Wheat
Salt is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Historically Important Foodstuffs
Photo: Metaweb (FB)/Public domain
3 60 VOTES

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.

More Salt

#18 of 18 on All The Ingredients Present In The Average Hot Dog, Ranked By "Oh No!" Factor #1 of 40 on The Most Useful Spices #8 of 44 on The Best Survival Foods #12 of 43 on The Best Things to Put in a Bloody Mary

Was this an important food?
see more on Salt
Spam is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Historically Important Foodstuffs
Photo: Metaweb (FB)/GNU Free Documentation License

The Allies had millions of troops fighting in World War II, which meant they had to find a way to feed them. SPAM was a protein-rich meal that was easy to ship and had a long shelf-life, so it became the breakfast, lunch, and dinner of the guys who beat the Nazis. They got so sick of it, they started making jokes like "Spam is a ham that didn't pass its physical."

More Spam

#76 of 77 on The Best American Foods #50 of 70 on The Best Things to Put in Ramen #31 of 32 on The Best Foods to Eat on a Date

Was this an important food?
see more on Spam