Celebrating Spartans: Making a difference in the kitchen

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EAST LANSING, MI (WLNS) – Spartan professors and graduates have changed the way we see the food we eat, and the way we cook.

From milk, to corn, to the appliances we use, many Spartans have had a hand in modernizing the kitchen, and making our lives more convenient.

The way we see milk today is in part thanks to former Spartan G. Malcolm Trout, who helped implement the homogenization of milk.

Homogenization is a way of distributing the fat from the cow in the milk, so the milk we drink is a homogeneous liquid from top to bottom.

Before milk was homogenized, a layer of cream would sit at the top.

Trout worked to encourage more dairy plants to use homogenization, which is also how the healthier 1 percent and 2 percent milk is possible.

“He did a lot of groundbreaking work in figuring out how to improve the quality of it, and to make sure that the homogenization process was correctly done,” Michigan State Food Science Professor John Partridge said.

Trout made such an immense impact on the dairy industry that MSU named the Food Science building after him.

“He was a very, very important piece of the history here at Michigan State,” Partridge said.

Another advancement created by a Spartan, is the hybridization of corn.

Not only is it one of the three major staples of food across the globe, but it is used in many different kinds of foods and fuels.

The abundance, taste and durability of corn we have today, is thanks to former Professor and Spartan William J. Beal.

Beal worked off of Charles Darwin’s theories on hybrid vigor, and applied it to corn.

He used a process called back crossing, where he removed the pollen from the tassels to pollinate the silk in a controlled way, resulting in an entirely new kind of corn.

“He was able to go from eight rows of kernels to twenty four rows of kernels, so that was a three-fold increase in productivity,” Plant Biology Professor Frank Telewski said

Beal also created an experiment to test seed durability to make the plant more resistant to weather and insects, which is an experiment still going on today.

When it comes to convenience in the kitchen, one Spartan went above and beyond, to change the way we cook on a daily basis.

Lloyd Groff Copeman is the man behind a faster way to toast bread, cook food on the stove, and easily make ice cubes.

Copeman was a Mechanical Engineering graduate back in the late 1800’s, and after graduating, his life was dedicated to inventing a string of utilities to make life easier.

Back then, bread had to be toasted one side at a time, a hassle his wife would complain about, so he created his own version, that toasted both sides at once.

Another nuisance back then were metal ice cube trays, but after walking through the slush one day and seeing how easy the ice cracked off the rubber sole of his boot, he came up with the idea of rubber ice cube trays to get the ice out easier.

To this day, the electric stove was the most well-known of his inventions, and is a staple appliance in every kitchen across the globe.

He started selling them in 1912 at the Copeman Electric Stove Company in Flint, Michigan, and it was then bought up years later by Westinghouse.

All of these inventions and improvements wouldn’t be what they are today, without the creative ideas, and diligent work of Spartans.

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