Nineteenth-century inventor Gail Borden was obsessed with the idea of condensing food. His first effort, a condensed “meat biscuit,” failed miserably. But an ocean voyage gave birth to a better idea. Borden was concerned about the sickly condition of the children on board. Cows on the ship were too seasick to produce healthy milk, and four children died from drinking contaminated milk. Borden was determined to condense milk so that it would be safe and easily transported.
After many tries, he devised a vacuum process that removed water from milk. Conditions during the Civil War made the canned milk a success, and Borden make a fortune. His epitaph, inscribed on a tomb the shape of a milk can, was, “I tried and failed; I tried again and again, and succeeded.”