“If malign forces wanted to bring civilisation to its knees,” writes Tom Jackson, “all they need to do is turn off all the fridges.” And indeed, to read his account of the history of the appliance, one wonders how we ever did without it.
Jackson takes a buoyant, idiosyncratic and very funny approach to the science of cooling, on a meandering course that stretches from food preservation in ancient Egypt to the future of supercomputing. With frequent digressions (the unsavoury origins of ice-cream; the adventures of the real-life Captain Birdseye; the cryogenics organisation wishfully dubbed “The Immortalist Society”), this history of what is, ultimately, a rather mundane piece of kitchenware is consistently fascinating. Cool story.
Chilled, by Tom Jackson, Bloomsbury, RRP£16.99, 272 pages