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Cool is cool

How Refrigeration aided human development...and how Gram became a true pioneer brand in the cool industry


When we hear this word, we might think about food, drinks, and ice.
But have you ever thought about what refrigeration does? How many parts of our lives are determined by functioning refrigeration? Think about vaccines, that need to be stored in cold conditions. Without refrigeration, billions of people who suffer from Diabetes wouldn’t be able to store their individual insulin shots. Without refrigeration, we would be swamped by food poisonings and other health risks all the time.
In the western, industrialized world, it became a common commodity. We all have access to fridges and freezers. But this was and is not the case always and everywhere. Until today, there are regions in the world without electricity, without the possibility to connect a refrigeration device.
The United Nations have included the World Refrigeration Day as one of the most important International day to acknowledge the importance and significance of refrigeration in our daily lives, keeping our societies going…and last but not least our food safe and our drinks cool.

Here are some interesting facts you might not know about how Refrigeration was developed and how Gram became a true pioneer in refrigeration.

Did you know …

…that the earliest form of cooling can be dated back even earlier than 1000 BC?

As we learn from an ancient Chinese collection of poetry, that during the Shijing period, ice was filled and emptied from ice cellars, probably for religious purposes.

Did you know …

…that until the beginning of last century, refrigeration meant the practice of ice harvesting?

Ice even became a mass-market commodity, such as oil or flour. In America but also in many European metropolitan areas, there were ice storages. Huge halls, often underground, were filled with ice blocks. In these halls, salesmen and wealthy households rented space for the storage of perishable goods. But this practice eventually pushed the invention of the refrigerator. Industries like meatpacking and breweries heavily depended on a steady supply of ice. But ice was also used in the medical sector, for example, to lower a patient’s or to store valuable pharmaceutic products.

As a result of the increased use, an effect of the pollution caused by the growing number of factories, ice was getting scarce, and complaints about the deteriorating quality of harvested ice became louder. Driven by the unwillingness to depend on natural resources for cooling, scientists, and often doctors, pushed the limits of technology (of their time). There was a new need for artificial refrigeration which meant a steady, cost-effective, and hygienic supply of ice.

Did you know …

… that the basics of today’s refrigeration technology were generated already in 1748?

It was William Cullen, a Scottish doctor who demonstrated his ideas about evaporating ethyl ether into a vacuum. Building on his findings, American inventor Oliver Evans designed a refrigeration machine using vapor instead of liquid in 1805.

In 1820, English scientist Michael Faraday ( who also coined the term Faraday cage) used liquefied ammonia to generates a cooling effect. Who actually can be called “The Inventor of the Refrigerator” is heavily disputed today. Some say it was Jacob Perkins, who was Evans’ research partner. He received a patent for inventing a vapor-compression cycle using liquid ammonia in 1835.
The third person who needs to be mentioned here is John Gorrie, an American doctor, who designed a very similar machine to Evans’. His invention, however, was able to produce ice. The purpose of his machine was to cool down patients with yellow fever in a Florida hospital. For his method of cooling artificially creating ice, he received the first U.S. patent in 1851.

Did you know …

…that Gram was founded already in 1901?

It all started with a 100 m2 engineering plant, founded by Industrialist Hans Gram and his production plant “Hans Gram Engineering Works”, located not far from today’s Gram factory in Vojens, Denmark. The initial focus was on trading dairy supplies, as well as providing services to dairy farms. Dairy traditionally has a high significance for Danish society. With growing experience and network in this segment, Hans was driven to manufacture complete machinery for dairy production and processing, which as an important part, includes refrigeration. As we all know animal products, such as milk and meat are extremely perishable, requiring at least minimum refrigeration. Only because of refrigeration, perishable goods can be transported and consumed days or even weeks after production. Being able to develop refrigeration appliances and sell these to Danish dairy producers was logical and filled an important gap. When his brother Aage joined the business with Hans in 1907 they renamed the company “Gram Brothers Engineering Works”

Did you know …

…that Gram was a real pioneer in ice cream production?

As we just learned, the Gram success story started with milk and dairy. World War 1 had changed how people lived their lives significantly, industrialization brought electricity into the homes and production facilities, the industry was booming. It was the time after World War 1, the Roaring 20s with an industrial boom and a move away from conventional regionally-based agriculture, that coined the dynamic of Grams radical transformation and reorganization. At the beginning of this new and exciting decade, in 1920, the brothers Gram shifted their company’s focus away from dairy equipment and focused on the construction of a new refrigerator company. Being experienced with the needs of the dairy industry, this was a clever move to feed a growing demand for practical and powerful refrigeration solutions.  Their initial priority was designing the first Gram compressor, the heart of every refrigerator.

Did you know …

…that Gram built its first ice cream freezer already in 1934, and the first continuous ice cream freezer in 1945.

Having built and maintained a strong base in the danish ice cream industry even during the difficult times of World War 2, the company started expanding its network rapidly, especially internationally, becoming the world leader for specialized equipment for ice cream factories.

Did you know …

…that Gram build the BF-30, The “forefather” of professional fridges and freezers? 

Let’s have a look back to the ’50s and ’60s. Refrigeration had found its way into the homes and slowly became a staple. But there was still a need to optimize refrigeration for the industry. Denmark has a long baking tradition, and until today danish breadmaking is considered a high-skilled craft. Motivated to support the danish bakery industry with modern refrigeration devices, Gram invented the BF-30, the “forefather” of all professional fridges and freezers. The BF-30 was a real pioneer device,  specially developed to simplify the heavy working routines of bakers at that time. State-of-the-art features back then were for example the cabinet’s net internal volume of 230 l with separate compartments and two half doors. The refrigerator allowed the operator to control the temperatures of the compartments separately. The baker’s refrigeration star also came with 15 pivoted tray holders.

What was most valuable to bakers of that time is being able to spread out production times more evenly over the day or a week. With the BF-30, bakers were able to store their pre-proven dough and offer freshly baked bread throughout the day.