History of Tofu - Page 4

by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi

A Chapter from the Unpublished Manuscript, History of Soybeans and
Soyfoods, 1100 B.C. to the 1980s

©Copyright 2004 Soyfoods Center, Lafayette, Californi

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The Early Years (1613-1899) . The earliest known reference to tofu by a European was in 1613, when the British Captain John Saris visited Japan. In his log he described the food habits of the Japanese: " . . . of cheese they have plentie. Butter they have none, neither will they eate any milke . . ." obviously the "cheese" mentioned by Captain Saris was tofu (Satow 1900; cited by Hymowitz 1981).

The earliest mention of the word "tofu" (or a cognate thereof), the earliest description of now it was made, and the earliest description of how soybeans were used in any form as a food was in 1665 by the Italian Friar Domingo Navarrete (Cummins 1962; cited in Hymowitz 1981). In that year he wrote the following in his tractate:

Before I proceed to the next Chapter, because I forgot it in my first Book, I will here briefly mention the most usual, common and cheap sort of Food all China abounds in, and which all Men in the Empire eat, from the Emperor to the meanest Chinese . . . It is call'd Teu Fu, that is Paste of Kidney Beans. I did not see how they made it. They drew the Milk out of the Kidney-Beans, and turning it, make great Cakes of it like Cheeses ...All the Mass is as white as the very Snow . . . It is eaten raw, but generally boil'd and dress'd with Herbs, Fish, and other things. Alone it is insipid, but very good dress'd as I say and excellent fry'd in Butter. They have it also dry'd and smok'd, and mixed with Caraway-seeds, which is best of all. It is incredible what vast quantities of it are consum'd in China, and very hard to conceive there should be such abundance of Kidney-Beans. That Chinese who has Teu-Fu, Herbs, and Rice, needs no other Sustenance to work . . . Teu Fu is one of the most remarkable things in China, there are many who will leave Pullets for it. If I'm not deceiv'd, the Chinese of Manila make it, but no European eats it, which is because they have not tasted it..."

Obviously Navarrete mistook soybeans for kidney beans. He was the first and last person ever to mention a tofu made in East Asia containing caraway seeds. If all subsequent Europeans who tried tofu had been as enthusiastic as Navarrete, tofu would now surely be a staple in Western cuisine.

In 1751 the Englishman Osbeck visited China. He wrote "Fish cut to pieces were carried about for sale on little tables, which hung on poles as above described: the same was done with bacon and Fdaufu , a dish which is like our sweet cheese, but which is prepared of Chinese beans ( Dolichos Chinensis )." He later mentioned that Fdau-fu or tou-fu was made from a sort of small peas, which they called U-ang-teo ( huang-tou in modern romanization) (Osbeck 1757).

In 1793 the Portuguese traveler Loureiro, in discussing soybeans, wrote (in Latin): "There is also a white food resembling coagulated milk and called by the Chinese Teu hu or Tau hu , which is the most widely used food among them. Although it is rather bland by itself, if the appropriate condiments are added, it becomes a food which is neither unpleasant nor unhealthy."

In 1855 the Baron of Montgaudry, in a report in the Bulletin of the Society for Acclimatization in France , noted that in China soybeans were transformed into a cheeselike product (resembling fromage blanc or fromage a la pie ), widely consumed by the poor and highly esteemed, sold for pennies a piece, and usually consumed fried. The rich usually used seasoned, fermented tofu as a seasoning. Also in 1855 Stanislaus Julien, the great sinologist, wrote the president of the Society that he had read in the Imperial Encyclopedia of Agriculture in China that yellow soybeans could be used to make teou-fou , a sort of fermented pea paste ( pate de pois ), which the common people used regularly to nourish themselves. Other varieties of soybeans were not good for making teou-fou. The same year M. de Montigny, the French consul in Shanghai, wrote the Society that he was going to send them a pot of (fermented) teou-fou, "Chinese cheese made from soybeans; it is a principal element in the Chinese diet." In 1859 M. Vilmorin, a prominent French seedsman, gave the Society some details on his tests with making tofu from soybeans. This was the first known attempt by a Westerner to make tofu.

Then in 1866 Paul Champion wrote the most detailed article to date "On the Production of Tofu in China and Japan," containing 3 1/2 pages of information on exactly how tofu was made and its role in Chinese culture. The article was published in the Society's bulletin. He noted "I have seen this production established on a large scale in many ports of China from the south to Peking, and also in various ports of Japan which I have visited. Well prepared tofu has a very agreeable flavor. Deep-fried, it makes a delicious dish. It is widely consumed among the Chinese and would be able to be employed, I believe, to advantage in Europe." In 1869 Champion and Lhote gave the first nutritional analysis of tofu, plus additional information on tofu production. Both nigari and calcium sulfate were used as coagulants. (French; all Paillieux 1880s??) In 1872 the German Senft noted that an English seaman spoke of a type of cheese made from Chinese soybeans.

In 1874 Ritter, a German, gave a very detailed description of the traditional way of making tofu in Japan. He concluded saying "One cannot deny that most of the dishes prepared from tofu are rather nice, even for the European palate." In 1878 the German Langgaard gave a nutritional analysis of tofu, as is and on a dry weight basis, compared it with other protein sources, and noted its high protein content. Also in 1878 Haberlandt noted that in China people made a "soft cheese like quark out of defatted soybean meal or perhaps out of soybeans." In 1879 Kinch, a German, did the first nutritional analysis of dried-frozen tofu (and one of regular tofu).

In 1880 Paillieux published a comprehensive review of articles and developments in France related to tofu and other soyfoods. In this, Eugene Simon wrote an original 1-page description of tofu making in China. Paillieux discussed grilled, fried, and dried-frozen tofu. He noted: "For 25 years our missionaries and consuls in China have invited us to make tofu ( fromage du soja ) in France; we have followed their advice." He then described how he had made tofu eight or nine times, coagulating the soymilk with vinegar and obtaining a yield of about 1.5 kg of tofu from 1 kg of soybeans (Champion reported the same yield, which is far below today's standard of 2.5-3.5). In June 1880 Paillieux served his tofu to the French National Horticultural Society and showed them a model of a Chinese tofu mill. But his enthusiasm for the product was mixed. "The cheese is easy to make, but it has a certain taste of raw beans that we have not been able to remove. We have tried in vain to season it as with caraway . . . The flavor we don't like in the milk and cheese is not as disagreeable to children as to adults. Kids love the curds and ask for seconds. But it will take some time before tofu becomes popular."

In 1886 the German professor J.J. Rein wrote The Industries of Japan , giving a detailed description of tofu production. He said that only two types of soybeans (called tofu-mame or tofu beans) were used to make tofu. They were wase-mame and natsu mame . His book was published in English in 1899.

In 1887 Kellner and Mori studied the digestibility of diets containing tofu; Kellner was a German professor in Japan. In 1889 Kellner wrote a brief article about tofu and okara, containing nutritional analyses. This was the first mention of okara in connection with tofu. Also in 1889 in an article on miso, Kellner and co-workers discussed tofu in more depth and gave a nutritional analysis. In 1895 the first major Japanese article on tofu in English was published by Inouye, as mentioned earlier at Japan. Thus European publications on tofu nutrition predated those by Japanese??

In 1893 the Russian-German Bretschneider, in his Botanicon Sinicum , was the first to introduce the Western world to the idea that, according to the Pen-ts'ao Kang-mu , Liu An of Huai-nan had first developed tofu in the 2nd century B.C. He added that tofu may have been known before that time, but that no distinct mention was made of it in the classical writings. The connection between tofu and Liu An was repeated subsequently by Li Yu-ying (1911), Stuart (1911), Adolph (1922), Piper and Morse (1923), and Horvath (1927), to name but the earliest. As mentioned earlier there is no historical evidence to support this statement.

In 1895 and 1896 the Dutchman H.C. Prinsen Geerligs wrote a detailed description of tofu making in China or Southeast Asia, and gave a chemical analysis of the coagulation and a nutritional composition of the tofu. He described the curding of tofu with natural nigari and fermented whey, and the dipping of the cakes for a few minutes into a mixture of salt water and turmeric. In 1898 the German Fesca praised tofu as a fine protein source. The Englishman Hosie (1901) as part of a detailed discussion of the tofu-making process in China, noted that the cold-extracted soymilk was coagulated in an earthenware container with nigari ( lu shui ). Varieties of tofu described were firm tofu ( doufu gan ), tofu curds ( doufu nao , made with gypsum instead of nigari), pressed tofu sheets ( qianzhang doufu ), and frozen tofu ( dong doufu ).

1900 to 1919 . In 1904 and 1906 the German Loew, discussed dried-frozen and regular tofu. In 1906 and 1907 the Frechman Bloch, pharmacist to the French colonial troops, published several articles on tofu. He did early research on tofu coagulants, demonstrating that each of the following worked: the chlorides and nitrates of calcium, barium, strontium, and magnesium, plus magnesium sulfate. In 1906 he noted that he had helped make tofu several times in the city of Tianjin, where the shops started work at 1:00 in the morning and finished by about 10:00 A.M. The stone mill was generally turned by a donkey. He made tofu on a lab scale and did a nutritional analysis of regular and pressed tofu, okara, and nigari. He recommended introducing nigari tofu to the French troops in Indochina; it was low in cost, very versatile, and, in the form of pressed tofu sheets, it kept well. In 1907 he called tofu the most interesting of all soyfoods and said that there was no Chinese settlement without one or two tofu shops.

In 1906 the German Senft investigated dried-frozen tofu, which he noted had been used as a preserved military food by the Japanese during the Russo-Japanese War. He suggested its use by the German Army??

Prior to 1910, as we have seen, there had been many random references to and even studies of tofu by Europeans for about 300 years but, except for the modest work done by the Society for Acclimatization in France, no serious attempts had been made to introduce it as a food to Europe nor to manufacture it commercially. There may well have been a few Chinese-run tofu shops in major European cities (such as Paris and London) supplying an Oriental clientele, but we know of no record of their existence. The situation changed dramatically, however, in about 1910 when a Chinese living in Paris, Li Yu-ying, started Europe's first known soyfoods plant and began to make tofu. He was granted a British patent (1910) on his tofu process and equipment--the first tofu patent in the world. He called his tofu fromage de soja or Caseo-Sojaine . In his improved process, Li used pure salts or rennet (he was the first to use rennet) to improve the flavor, used selected cheese cultures to make fermented tofu in Gruyere, Roquefort, and Camembert types, and also made fresh firm tofu, pressed tofu sheets (salted or unsalted), lightly salted cubes, and smoked tofu (sold in tin foil). He used tofu to make a mock pate de foi gras , and a tofu sausage. He suggested that Parisians use smoked tofu in omelettes, simmer it in gravy, add it to pates, use it to stuff fritters, or add it to soups. Li and Grandvoinnet's classic Le Soya ("The Soybean," 1911-12) was packed with original information on tofu. Li was the first in the West to mention that a Chinese proverb called tofu "The meat without bones." He gave a nutritional analysis of his fresh tofu and dried tofu sheets, made by the Municipal Laboratory of Paris. Li probably produced tofu in Paris for about 8 years, until about the end of World War I. During this time interest in the product reached a new level. Indeed, some 900 years after its development in China and 700 years after its introduction to Japan, tofu had finally made the great leap westward to Europe.

In 1911 the Frenchman Beltzer gave a good description of tofu in Vietnam, as described under Vietnam, above. Also in 1911 Stuart, an Englishman, in his Chinese Materia Medica , translated the description (given earlier) from the Pen-ts'ao Kang-mu on how to make tofu, then added medicinal advice. "The taste is sweet, alkaline, and cooling. It is considered to be slightly deleterious. It is thought that the ingestion of bean curd prevents the curing of diseases, but if carrots are put with the bean curd, this action is prevented. It is reputed to be beneficial to the internal organs, improving the breath, harmonizing the spleen and stomach, removing flatulence, and expelling evil gases from the bowels. Used warm, it disperses subcutaneous hemorrhage. It is prescribed in chronic dysentery, opthalmia, swellings, and drunkenness."

In 1913 the second European (and British) tofu patent was granted, this time to an Englishman, Melhuish, who coagulated the "casein" with lemon juice or rennet. In 1914 Loomis (in America) wrote at the start of World War I that "Notices have appeared recently that soy bean curd and milk are to be manufactured on a large scale in Europe." He was probably referring only to the work of Li in Paris, for no known records exist of other tofu plants. Fuerstenberg (1917) praised tofu and summarized many earlier studies on it, including one by Winkler mentioning five types of tofu. Yet by the end of World War I, tofu was all but forgotten in Europe.

1920-1969 . For the next 5 decades there was very little interest in tofu in Europe. In France, Rouest (1921) discussed the work with tofu done by Li Yu-ying and gave a number of original tofu recipes. He called smoked tofu "viande de soja" and praised its use as a meat analog. In Germany, Kempski (1923) discussed sun-dried tofu and fried/roasted tofu. Belenki and Papowa (1933) were granted the first Soviet patent on tofu (called "soy cheese"). Giraud-Gillet (1942) discussed tofu in Vietnam, gave many French tofu recipes, and referred to tofu as " petits fromages blancs de soja ."

1970-1980s . By 1975 there were tofu plants, all run by East Asians, in a number of Europe's larger cities including Paris, Brussels, London, Manchester, and Utrecht (Netherlands) (Shurtleff and Aoyagi 1975). Publication of The Book of Tofu in 1975 and Tofu & Soymilk Production in 1979 stimulated interest in tofu and tofu production among non-Oriental Europeans, such that by 1982 there were eight tofu plants in the Netherlands, seven in Belgium, four each in England and West Germany, three each in France and Switzerland, 1 in Italy, and 1 in Sweden, for a total of 31. All but 6 of these were run by non-Oriental Europeans. Many of these worked to develop and use local sources of soybeans, often organically grown. In 1981 Shurtleff and Aoyagi's The Book of Tofu was published in Germany as Das Tofu Buch . That same year Nordquist and Tim Oehlund in Sweden wrote and published Tofu Boken , the first European-made book on tofu. Tofu got extensive and generally positive media coverage. Wood (1981) in Scotland worked to create tofu-based products suited to British tastes. Processes included salting or smoking, adding spices and flavorings, doing lactic fermentations or mixing tofu with flour and making deep-fried rings. He worked to develop products such as tofu burgers that could be frozen without loss of quality. With all this creative energy at work, tofu's future in Europe looked promising.


The Early Years (1896-1919) . Tofu was introduced to the US long after it was known in Europe. The first American to mention tofu was Trimble; in 1896, writing in the American Journal of Pharmacy , he summarized the writings of Inouye and Prinsen Geerligs. Langworthy (1897) in his "Soy Beans as Food for Man," also summarized Inouye's writings on tofu. Blasdale (1899) summarized Prinsen-Geerligs' publications on tofu and did the first American nutritional analysis of tofu. Oshima (1905), in a work published by the USDA, gave an extensive review of the digestibility of the proteins and carbohydrates in tofu, based on work by Suchi, Osawa, and Inouye in Japan.

Little is known about the early history of tofu production in America. It is likely that by the late 1800s or early 1900s, some of the cities in America having a large Oriental (usually Chinese) population (such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, and Boston) had at least one part-time tofu shop, run by Chinese. It is almost certain that these shops had their soybeans imported from Manchuria, as soybeans were not widely available in the western US. The earliest known mention of a tofu shop in America (or in the Western world) appeared in 1899 in Blasdale's "Some Chinese Vegetable Food Materials." He stated that there were Chinese tofu shops in San Francisco that sold both small square tofu cakes and fresh unpressed curds. The tofu was reported to be firm (81.35% moisture) and was usually cooked in peanut oil. One of these early shops is thought to have been on Sacramento Street.

The oldest existing tofu company in America today is Quong Hop & Co.; the name means "Immense Unity." In about 1904, Mr. Sing-how Lee started a tofu shop in San Francisco with several partners. Because of conflicts with the partners, he left and started Quong Hop in 1906 in Chinatown, on an alley called Wentworth Place, between Jackson and Washington streets. In the basement of the store, the company made tofu (firm and wine-fermented) and sprouts (soy and mung). The shop was very similar to a typical small tofu shop in China; the foods were sold at the store-front upstairs. After the 1906 earthquake, the company moved across the bay to Oakland for 6 months, then moved back to San Francisco to a new location on Waverly Place in Chinatown. Quong Hop did a good business until the beginning of World War II when their supply of soybeans, all of which were imported from China, was cut off. They restricted their tofu production to only fermented tofu. In the early 1960s the company moved to Folsom St. and 14th. As the natural foods movement began, they decided in 1971 to start again to make regular tofu (plus several new varieties) and soymilk. In September 1972 they moved to a large new factory in South San Francisco and initiated many important innovations with tofu and soymilk, as will be discussed later.

Tofu must have been getting fairly popular by 1912, when Linder, working in the Laboratory of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, investigated two samples of tofu (probably fermented tofu) sent to him from a western state; they were suspected of being filled cheese, and they resembled in appearance and taste a very soft cream cheese. He considered them a "very good substitute."

In 1916 America's first patent concerning only tofu was granted to Mr. Kameichi Murakami, apparently a tofu maker in Seattle. It introduced new equipment designs. In 1918 a patent for making tofu from soy flour, coagulated with Epsom salts, was issued to Makino of San Francisco.

In about 1917 John E.S. Han, a Yale student in Changsha, China, wrote an excellent account of tofu that appeared in a Yale student publication. He described the curding process using both nigari and calcium sulfate, saying that the coagulant was poured into the bottom of the curding vat, then the hot soymilk was poured in, then a little coagulant was sprinkled over the surface; 1 pound of soybeans was said to yield 3.57 pounds of tofu, which would make it a rather soft tofu.

Although tofu was probably quite widely available in many of America's major cities, especially on the east and west coast, by the time of World War I, most non-Oriental Americans were certainly not aware of it. One of the first people to try to introduce tofu to the greater American public was a remarkable Chinese woman doctor and dietician, Dr. Yamei Kin ( The New York Times Magazine 1917; Literary Digest 1917; Adolph 1922; Horvath 1927). A graduate of the Woman's Medical College of New York and head of the woman's hospital work in north China, she began to work closely with the USDA during World War I (see Chapter 59), to teach America more about soybeans and soyfoods in China. She soon became America's foremost proponent of using tofu, which was apparently her favorite soyfood. In cooperation with the Bureau of Chemistry of the USDA she conducted a series of experiments to find ways of using tofu that would help Americans in overcoming the meat shortages at that time. Sometime between 1916 and 1918, with the help of American friends, she established a tofu plant in New York City under the name of the Soy Products Co., then later started a nearby restaurant where tofu and other soyfoods were served. During World War I the plant and restaurant were quite successful, but on return to normal times, both were forced to close (Morse 1931). David Fairchild, the famous USDA agricultural explorer, recalled in his autobiography (1938), "Dr. Yamei Kin, an extraordinary Chinese woman, made a visit to Washington and captivated us all by her enthusiasm over soybeans. She introduced us to tofu, a delicate cheese, which has not even yet attracted the attention it deserves from the American public." In a special New York Times Magazine interview on soyfoods in 1917, Dr. Kin described how tofu was made in China then added: "Soup noodles are made out of bean curd. Entrees made of bean curd are served with cream mushroom-sauce or a hot Spanish tomato sauce. A salad of bean sprouts, accompanied by cheese--the cheese a cross between Camembert and Roquefort, and made from the soy-bean--is very nutritious and palatable." Many of the American-style tofu recipes that appeared in Piper and Morse's classic The Soybean (1923) were developed by Dr. Kin and the Soy Products Co. (Redo??)

It is important to note that most of the early tofu research, production, and popularization work in the US was done by the people of Chinese or Japanese background. We owe them a great debt of thanks for patiently persisting when Westerners were so slow to understand.

During World War I, in addition to its work with Dr. Kin, the USDA took an interest in tofu. It mentioned tofu and how it is made in its Weekly News Letter of 22 May 1918. Frank N. Meyer, agricultural explorer with the USDA, took many of the first pictures of tofu in China that were seen in the West; they were published in various journals after 1918. Morse (1918a) wrote, "In many cities of the United States having a large Asiatic population, fresh bean curd generally may be found in the Chinese markets".

Jordan (1918), in "Soy Beans from Soups to Nuts," wrote enthusiastically that when tofu becomes more widely available "it is destined to be used extensively." Yet the flurry of interest generated during World War I largely vanished when the war was over.

1920-1939 . There was not a great deal of interest in tofu in America during the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression. One important early publication was Piper and Morse's The Soybean (1923). They tersely summarized the level of interest by saying, "Attempts have been made during the past five years to introduce tofu to the American people, but without much success." The book, however, contained the best American presentation on tofu to date, including descriptions of six varieties of Japanese and Chinese tofu accompanied by five photographs of tofu taken in China by Frank N. Meyer, discussion of traditional methods of preservation (simmering in turmeric or brine, smoking, simmering in diluted soy sauce), detailed production and nutritional information, and 17 American-style recipes (prepared by the Soy Products Co. and the Chicago Bean Bread Co.). The recipes were introduced by a nice description of the tofu's worth and potential:

Numerous palatable and nutritious dishes can be prepared with tofu as a base by American and European methods of cooking. When cut into small pieces and cooked with an egg, it furnishes an excellent omelet. It also may be used as the principal ingredient in baked stuffed peppers. The fresh tofu makes an excellent salad or sandwich filling if the curd is chopped finely and chopped olives, pepper, salt, and mayonnaise dressing are added. When cut into small pieces and cooked in tomato sauce or similar sauces, a very good meat substitute is obtained. Cooked with meat broth, the curd takes the flavor of the meat. It is readily seen that the fresh bean curd can be utilized in many ways and when the people of the Western world become better acquainted with its simple method of manufacture, it will no doubt, become more generally utilized.

Morse was truly the first Caucasian American to realize the potential of tofu. He also did some original research on tofu coagulants and yields. He coagulated soymilk with rennet (the idea came from Li Yu-ying in Paris in 1911; the tofu flavor was nice and mild); 1% solutions of acetic, tartaric, and lactic acids; soured milk; and soured tofu whey. He made tofu from whole and defatted soy flour, and conducted many tests to determine the yield of tofu from various soybean varieties. His yields were extremely low: 0.28-0.68 versus the typical 2.5-3.5 today. From 1929-1931 Morse spent 2 years in East Asia (see Chapter 62) and there he took a special interest in tofu. His voluminous journals of the expedition contained a detailed description of how tofu was made in typical tofu shop that he visited (Vol. 3, p. 2335) plus numerous descriptions and photographs of varieties of tofu and tofu products he observed (pp. 2695, 2965, 3470-73, 3500, 3542).

In 1925 Mary Rose and Grace MacLeod did America's first tofu nutrition study on human beings. In a comparative nitrogen balance study on adults, comparing the protein value of tofu, milk, meat, and bread, they showed that tofu protein was complete, containing all the essential amino acids, and that its quality compared very favorably with that of the proteins from the other foods.

By 1930 tofu was being made in many Chinatowns in America, including the one in Philadelphia (Hepburn and Sohn 1930). In 1933 C.D. Miller discussed tofu in Hawaii.

The first Caucasian American tofu makers were all Seventh-day Adventists. By May 1929 Madison College in Tennessee was serving fresh tofu and soymilk occasionally in the dining hall and sanitarium (hospital); these soyfoods were made by the students using a process they probably learned from a Japan missionary, Perry Webber. The June 1929 Madison Survey ran a nice recipe for homemade tofu coagulated with rennet or lactic acid; four American-style tofu recipes followed. In October 1929 Frances Dittes, a nutritionist at Madison, published a journal article on "The Calcium Content of Soybean Cheese." In late 1929 T.A. Van Gundy in southern California was issued the first patent for canned tofu; called Soy Cheese, it had added pimientos to prevent graying after canning (ref??). By 1931 Madison College was making a very firm commercial canned seasoned tofu. Initially it was brand-named Madison Soy Cheese; in 1939 it was renamed Chese-O-Soy. In about 1933 Madison Foods published an attractive 6-panel flyer entitled Madison Soy Cheese and containing nine American-style tofu recipes. In about 1934 it published a 21-page booklet entitled Vegetable Milk and Cheese , which contained 67 tofu recipes (the largest collection to date), many calling for "grated soy cheese." Containing only 61.6% moisture, Madison's tofu was so firm it could be grated. In 1964 Madison introduced a remarkable deep-fried tofu-and-gluten entree called Sam's Chicken. It later evolved into Worthington Foods' famous Chickettes, but with spun soy protein replacing the tofu (see Chapter 66.3). Other early Caucasian Adventist tofu makers were Loma Linda Foods (from 1933 or 1934), Willis Miller (1938, he sold it only as a base for sandwich spreads) and Dr. Harry Miller (1940). Thus, thanks to these Seventh-day Adventists and their booming tofu industry, many non-Oriental Americans began to enjoy tofu for the first time in the period from 1929 on.

The oldest existing Japanese-owned tofu company in North America (and probably in the Western world) is thought to be Azumaya, which was founded in 1920?? in San Francisco. Details of the founding are unknown??, but it had three successive Japanese owners before the third, Mr. Sakamaki, sold it to the four Mizono Brothers (Jack, Bill, George, and John) on 17 February 1937. The tofu plant was then located in a basement at 1636 Post Street between Bush and Laguna streets. The Mizonos built Azumaya into a thriving enterprise. In the late 1960s they got their tofu into the first chain of non-Oriental food stores, the Berkeley Co-op system. In about 1970 they became the first company to have their tofu sold in American supermarket chains, Safeway (distributed by Japan Foods) and Lucky (shipped direct). By the late 1970s they were in Alpha Beta, Albertsons, Raleys, and other major West Coast chains. Sales of $60,000 in 1969 jumped more than sixteenfold in the next 8 years to $1,000,000 in 1977, when they were using 1,600-2,400 pounds of soybeans a day to make tofu. In 1980 Azumaya moved into a huge new modern factory. By 1982, the second largest tofu maker in the Western world, they produced about 110,000 pounds of tofu a week.

America's largest tofu manufacturer in 1982, Hinode Tofu Company in Los Angeles, traces its roots back to Hawaii to the Ueda Tofu Company, which may have started as early as 1900. In 1939 Mr. and Mrs. ?? Yamauchi bought Ueda Tofu and renamed it Aala Tofu Co. Mrs. Yamauchi and her two sons, Shoan and Shojin, ran the family business successfully. Shoan and his wife came to the United States in October 1947?? purchased Hinode Tofu Co. in Los Angeles, which had started in about 19??. Soon Shoan Yamauchi was making a full line of the tofu products that he had learned to make in Hawaii, which were not yet widely made on the mainland: silken tofu, deep-fried tofu pouches and cutlets, and regular and Chinese-style tofu. Hinode Tofu Co. grew steadily and in 1963 Yamauchi bought out his competitor, Matsuda Tofu Co. (when start??) the only other Japanese tofu manufacturer in Los Angeles. The new company, called Matsuda-Hinode Tofu Co., was now the biggest on the mainland US. In 1964 the company established two milestones: It became the first US company to get tofu into a supermarket chain (Boy's Market in Los Angeles) and it became the first company in the US to make natto, a fermented soyfood (see Chapter 45). During the 1970s the business grew rapidly in this city with America's largest East Asian population; many new distributors, including new supermarket chains, were picked up. In 1978 the company expanded into a million dollar automated factory, which made the first pasteurized tofu in the Western world, and which used over 5,500 pounds of dry soybeans a day to produce 26,000 packages of tofu under 14 private labels. In 1980 the company reportedly reaped a $110,500 profit on $3.5 million in sales (Dukess 1981). In 1981 the company's name was shortened to its original name, Hinode Tofu Company. Tofu production increased rapidly, growing from about 70,000 pounds a week in 1978, to 81,000 pounds in 1979, way up to an estimated 140,000 pounds a week in 1982, or some 27% more than the next largest tofu maker in the West, Azumaya. In 1982?? Hinode hired a professional marketing director, Steve Snyder, and began a major campaign to become America's first tofu sold nationwide. America's first full-page color ads for tofu, featuring coupon and discounts, were run in major national magazines.

In 1938 Whiteman and Keyt, in USDA Leaflet 166, described how to make tofu using either fermentation or vinegar as a coagulant. They recommended seasoning with salt before storage, then using the tofu as a stuffing for celery stalks, green pepper rings, or raw tomatoes, or mixing with salad dressing to form balls to serve on lettuce leaves or to be used as a garnish for mixed vegetables and fruit salad.


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