Early History of Soybeans and Soyfoods Worldwide (1024 BCE to 1899)

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1-948436-34-2

Publication Date: 2021 April 3

Number of References in Bibliography: 4494

Earliest Reference: 1024 BCE

Click here to download the full text to open and read book Early History of Soybeans and Soyfoods Worldwide (1024 BCE to 1899)

Brief Chronology/Timeline of the Early History of Soybeans and Soyfoods Worldwide (1024 BCE to 1899).

China is the home of the soybean. It was domesticated in the eastern half of north China around the 11th century BCE (Hymowitz 1970, p. 417).

The first 109 documents in this book come from China and are written in Chinese. The first 291 documents come from China or Japan – mostly from China.

1024 BCE – The ancient character for soybean (shu) appears on four early Zhou dynasty bronze vessels, indicating that the soybean plant was already of some importance by this time (Hu Daojing 1963).

1000 BCE – The soybean is mentioned in four different odes in The Book of Odes / Songs (Shijing). The earliest mention is thought to date from about 1000 BCE. The earliest ode / poem (Mao Heng 300, 11th to 10th century BCE) states: Prince Millet (Hou Ji) sent down to the people a hundred blessings, the glutinous millet and the panicled millet, the grain that ripened quickly and that which ripened slowly, the grain that was planted early and that which was sown late, the soybean (shu), and the wheat (C.N. Li 1958, p. 13-18; Hymowitz 1970, p. 415).

300 BCE – Koji (qu, pronounced “chew”) is first mentioned in the Zhouli [Rites of the Zhou dynasty] in China. The invention of koji is a milestone in Chinese food technology, for it provides the conceptual framework for three major fermented soyfoods: soy sauce, jiang/miso, and fermented black soybeans, not to mention grain based wines (incl. Japanese sake) and li (the Chinese forerunner of Japanese amazake).

200 BCE – Prescriptions for Fifty-Two Ailments (Wushi'er Bing Fang) is the earliest document seen that mentions jiang (Chinese fermented soybean paste) made from soybeans. It states that jiang is one of the foods found in pottery jars and listed on bamboo strips discovered in 1972 in Han Tomb No. 1 at Mawangdui (Wade-Giles: Ma-huang-tui) near today’s Changsha, Hunan province. Previously in China, jiang had been made out of meat and shellfish. These Han tombs were sealed in about 165 BCE. Also found in this tomb were fermented black soybeans (shi) and koji (qu).

90 BCE – Records of the Historian (Shiji) by Sima Qian mentions that soybeans (shu) were transported [as a commodity] and that soup was made from soybean leaves (huo). Chapter 69, titled "Economic affairs" (Huozhi liezhuan, a famous chapter) refers to one thousand earthenware vessels of mold-fermented cereal grains and salty fermented soybeans (fermented black soybeans) (niequ yanshi qianhe) as articles of commerce. Soybeans and fermented black soybeans have now clearly become major commodities in the Chinese economy.

544 CE – Important Arts for the People’s Welfare (Qimin Yaoshu), by Jia Sixie, is the world's earliest encyclopedia of agriculture. H.T. Huang (2002) adds: "This is the most important book on agriculture or food technology ever published in China. At a remarkably early date it gives both general information and great detail about agriculture and food processing." The work is divided into 10 books/fascicles (juan), and subdivided into more than 91 consecutive parts.

A partial English-language translation of the "original material" and commentary by Shih Shêng-han was published in 1958 (2nd ed. 1962). Chapter 6 is soybeans – review of earlier literature (including many books that have now been lost), cultivation, and processing.

The Qimin Yaoshu is the first to describe how qu (koji) is made. It gives details on making jiang (Chapter 70), unsalted and salted fermented black soybeans (shi) (Chapter 72), and various types of soy sauce (Chapters 70, 76, 77, 80, 82, 87 and 88).

659 CE – Newly Improved Pharmacopoeia (Xinxiu Bencao), compiled by Su Jing et al. contains the world’s earliest known illustration of a soybean plant.

675 CE – In Japan, the first prohibition of meat eating was promulgated by Emperor Tenmu. Similar decrees, based on the Buddhist prohibition of killing, were issued repeatedly by emperors during the eighth and ninth centuries. Soyfoods gradually began to supply the savory flavor and protein that formerly had come from meat. Not until the 1860s did meat-eating resume in Japan, and not until after World War II did it become part of Japanese culture (Ishige 2001, p. 52-55, 146-153).

701 CE – In Japan, The Taiho Law Codes (Taiho Ritsuryo), by Emperor Monmu, which some regard as Japan's first constitution, is the earliest document seen that mentions soyfoods (and by implication soybeans) in Japan. It is also the earliest document outside of China to mention fermented black soybeans, which it calls kuki or shi. These law codes established the Hishio Tsukasa, or Bureau for the Regulation of Hishio Production, Trade and Taxation. The Hishio Tsukasa, located in the Imperial Palace, was an annex of the emperor's kitchen, where hishio was made. Using methods very similar to those developed in China, it transformed soybeans into hishio (which resembled Chinese jiang), fermented black soybeans (kuki or shi), and misho (an ancestor of miso; the term "miso" had not yet been coined). These foods and seasonings were consumed at the Imperial Household.

712 CE – The Kojiki, or Record of Ancient Matters, Japan’s oldest chronicle, contains the mythical story of the origin of the soybean in Japan.

725 CE – The Harima no Kuni Fudoki [Geography and Culture of Harima province], from Japan, is the earliest known document that mentions koji outside of China. It states that by the early 8th century in Japan, koji was being made using airborne koji molds.

965 CE – Tofu is first mentioned in China in a document, the Qing Yilu (Wade-Giles: Ch'ing I Lu) [Anecdotes, Simple and Exotic], by Tao Ku. It is called doufu. This is also the earliest document seen that advocates both vegetarianism and soyfoods, and that recommends the use of soyfoods (tofu) as a replacement for meat.

1183 – Tofu is first mentioned in Japan in the diary of Hiroshige Nakaomi, a Shinto priest of the Kasuga shrine at Nara; the tofu was used as an offering at the shrine's altar.

1275 July 16 – Edamamé (green vegetable soybeans in the pods) are first mentioned in Japan (or worldwide) in a letter from Nichiren, the Japanese Buddhist saint. In a letter to Mr. Takahashi, one of the parishioners at his temple, he says "Thank you for the edamamé."

1288-1292 – In Japan, Tamari-style shoyu is first sold from Yuasa in the Kishu area (in today's Wakayama prefecture).

1405 Dec. 19 – Natto (itohiki natto) is first mentioned in the diary of Noritoki Fujiwara; it is called itohiki daizu ("stringy soybeans").

1457 – The word "tofu" is first written in Japan with the characters used today.

1587 Jan. 24 – The earliest known reference to yuba, worldwide, appears in Japan in the Matsuya Hisamatsu chakai-ki [Three-generation diary of the Matsuya family's tea ceremonies]. The writer at this time, Matsuya Hisamasa, states simply that yuba is the film that forms atop soymilk when it is heated.

1596 – The Great Pharmacopoeia (Bencao Gangmu) is published in China.

1597 – Francesco Carletti of Florence visits Nagasaki, Japan where he sees miso (he calls it misol). An account of his experiences is not written until 1606.

1603 – In Japan, Vocabulary of the Language of Japan… (Vocabulario da Lingoa de Iapam…), a Japanese-Portuguese dictionary, is compiled and published by Jesuit missionaries in Nagasaki. There are entries for:

Abura ague [Abura-agé, deep-fried tofu pouches].

Amazaqe [Amazake], a still-bubbling fermented liquid that has not yet completely become sake;or sweet sake.

Azzuqi or azzuqui [azuki beans].

Cabe [Kabe]. Same as tofu.

Côji [Koji], a yeast [sic] used in Japan to make sake, or mixed with other things.

Daizzu [Daizu, whole dry soybeans].

Dengacu [Dengaku]. Dancing monks or skewered tofu spread with miso and broiled.

Fanben [Hanben]. A type of food which is made by broiling tofu and simmering it with miso.

Icchô. A way of counting some types of food, such as tofu.

Miso. A kind of mixture which is made with graos [grains, seeds, kernels], rice, and salt to season Japanese soups.

Miso coxi [Misokoshi], a bamboo strainer used for straining miso. Miso ya, a shop that sells miso. Miso yaqi jiru [Miso-yaki-jiru], a type of soup (Xiru) made with tofu and finely sliced daikon radish.

Misôzzu, which should properly be called Zosui, is a healing food made from vegetables, rice, miso, etc.

Nattô, a type of food made by a brief boiling of grains/seeds [graos], which are then put into an incubation chamber (muro).

Nattôjiru, a soup (Xiru) made from natto.

Tamari, a very savory liquid taken from miso which can be used for seasoning foods [when cooking] or at table.

Tôfu* – Taufu. A type of food. It is made into the shape of a cheese by crushing soybeans.

Tôfuya – Taufuya, a shop which makes and sells that cheese-like thing (tofu), which is made by grinding soybeans that have been soaked in water until they are soft.

Vdondôfu [Udon-dôfu]. Tofu which is made like udon (Japanese-style wheat noodles) and cooked.

Xôyu [Shoyu, or soy sauce], a liquid which corresponds to vinegar except that it is salty. It is used for seasoning foods. It is also called sutate.

Yudôfu – Yudaufu: A food made from thinly sliced tofu, served next to a kakejiru-type sauce [which is then poured over the top].

1610 – Earliest known reference to fermented tofu in China appears in Penglong Yehua [Peng Long Ye Hua; Night Discourses by the Penglong Mountain], by Li Rihua. The fermented tofu is named hai fu [hai tofu fu] (Huang 2000, p. 325-26). The next few earliest Chinese documents that mention fermented tofu are from 1680, about 1750, and 1790.

1613 – The word tofu is referred to (though indirectly) for the second time by a Westerner, Captain John Saris, in the log of his trip to Japan. He wrote "Of Cheese [probably tofu] they haue plentie. Butter they make none, neither will they eate any Milke, because they hold it to bee as bloud [blood], nor tame beasts." This is the earliest English-language document that mentions tofu in connection with Japan (Hymowitz & Newell 1981, p. 280).

1647 – Japanese soy sauce is now being exported from Nagasaki, Japan, by merchants of the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Ost-Indische Compagnie; VOC). In the earliest known handwritten letter it is called Soije, based on the Japanese word shoyu, meaning soy sauce. The words “soy,” "soya" and "soja," and the term "soy sauce" came into English from the Japanese word shoyu via the Dutch. Thus, the name of the soybean was derived from the name of the sauce made from it.

1661 – In Japan, Kikkoman traces its origins to this date when the Takanashi and Mogi families constructed breweries and started brewing soy sauce (Fruin 1983).

1665 – Domingo Fernandez Navarrete (lived 1698-1768), a Dominican missionary in China, writes a long description of tofu (teu-fu) in his journal. In 1676 this was first published in Spanish, then in 1704 it was published in English by Churchill and Churchill (Hymowitz & Newell 1981, p. 278).

1679 – John Locke, the famous philosopher, first mentions soy sauce in English in his journal (not published until 1829). While in England he wrote, for a traveler, a description of foods and condiments which ought to be enjoyed in London: “Mango and saio [shoyu] are two sorts of sauces brought from the East Indies.” (Lord King, ed. 1829. The Life of John Locke, p. 133-34; Yule & Burnell 1886, 1903). This shoyu (the Japanese word for soy sauce) was probably exported from Deshima, in Nagasaki harbor, by Dutch merchants. The context suggests that shoyu was widely available in London in 1679.

1688 – The word “Soy” is first used in English to refer to soy sauce by William Dampier in his journal, which was published in 1705 as Voyage Round the World… (Vol. II, Part I, p. 26-28).

1712 – Englebert Kaempfer, a German who lived in Japan during 1691 and 1692 as a physician for the Dutch East India Company at Deshima (an island in Nagasaki harbor), is the first European to give detailed descriptions of how miso and shoyu are made from soybeans in Japan – in his landmark Latin-language book Amoenitatum Exoticarum Politico-Physico-Medicarum [Exotic Novelties, Political, Physical, Medical, Vol. 5, p. 834-35]. He is also the first Westerner who mentions koji (which he calls koos), but he does not understand what it is, how it functions, or how it is made.

1727 – Miso is first mentioned in an English-language publication, The History of Japan, by Englebert Kaempfer. He spells it "Midsu, a mealy Pap, which they dress their Victuals withal, as we do butter."

1737 – In Europe, soybeans are first cultivated at Clifford’s Garden (Hortus Cliffortianus) in Hartecamp, The Netherlands, as described that year by Carolus Linnaeus in Latin.

1750 Dec. – Soy first arrives in North America (in what will soon become the United States) in the form of soy sauce, bearing the name “India Soy,” imported into the port of New York from London by Rochell & Sharp, shopkeepers on Wall Street (New York Gazette Revived... 1750 Dec. 17, p. 3). This soy sauce was probably Japanese shoyu, sold to Dutch merchants at Deshima. The Dutch then shipped it to Amsterdam, where it was sold to other merchants who took it to wherever they traded.

1753 – Carolus Linnaeus gives the soybean its first scientific name – Dolichos soja – according to his new binomial system (Species plantarum, p. 725).

1760 – In Italy, Allioni (1760) mentions cultivation of soybeans in the Botanical Gardens of Turin. There is evidence of essays on the soybean in the Herbarium of Bartolomeo Martini of Verona, an herbarium written in 1701. Other early references to the soybean in Italy include 1780 (Farsetti). 1793 (Zuccagni). 1801 (Bonnato). 1807 (L. Arduino). 1880 (Saccardo) (P.A. Saccardo 1909; Mattei 1919). More research is needed on this 1701 document and date.

1765 March – Samuel Bowen introduces the soybean to North America. He must have had soybeans with him when he arrived in Savannah, Georgia, and on March 30, 1765 married Miss Jeanie [Jane] Spencer, the daughter of the Collector of the Customs in Savannah (Georgia Gazette. 1765. April 4, p. 3). Since he did not yet own land, he gave these soybeans (which he initially called “Luk Taw or Chinese vetches”) to Henry Yonge, Surveyor-General of Georgia, in Savannah, who (at Mr. Bowen’s request) planted the soybeans on his own land located at Thunderbolt, a few miles east of Savannah, in the spring of 1765. They yielded “three crops, and had the frost kept off one week longer. I should have had a fourth” (Gentleman’s Magazine {London}. 1767. May, p. 253; Hymowitz and Harlan 1983, p. 371-79).

1766 May 28 – Samuel Bowen starts to export Bowen’s Patent Soy [sauce] to England. He learned how to make soy sauce while in China, and he made this soy sauce on his plantation near Savannah, Georgia. This is the earliest known soy product made in North America (Georgia Gazette. 1766. May 28, p. 1). In June 1766 the Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (London) presented Samuel Bowen with a gold medal “for introducing several Chinese manufactories [including soy sauce and soy sprouts, an antiscorbutic] in his Majesty’s province of Georgia” (General Evening Post {London}. 1766. June 5, p. 2). By Nov. 1766 Samuel Bowen, in London, had been introduced to King George III and received from him a present of 200 guineas (Georgia Gazette. 1766. Nov. 19, p. 3; Hymowitz & Harlan 1983).

1767 May – Soybeans are given their first English-language name by Samuel Bowen, who calls them “Luk Taw or Chinese vetches” (Gentleman’s Magazine {London}. 1767. May, p. 253; Hymowitz & Harlan 1983).

1770 Jan. 3 – James Flint, who had lived for many years in China, writes a letter (from Capringe) to Benjamin Franklin in London (in reply to an inquiry from Franklin) describing how the “Chinese convert Callivances into Towfu” (soybeans into tofu). This is the earliest known English-language document concerning tofu. Franklin had first read about tofu in the writings of Domingo Fernandez Navarrete – who called it teu-fu.

1770 Jan. 13 – Franklin (in London), in a letter to his close friend John Bartram in Philadelphia, passed on Flint’s description but added a key point that Flint had omitted, that runnet (rennet), a coagulant made from sea salt, was necessary to turn the liquid into curds. Franklin thus became the first American to mention tofu. At the same time, Franklin sent soybean seeds to Bartram, who probably planted them in his garden in Philadelphia; this was the second introduction of the soybean to North America, five years after Samuel Bowen’s in 1765 (Hymowitz & Harlan 1983).

Franklin’s letter to Bartram is the earliest English-language document seen that refers to soybeans as “Chinese Garavances/Caravances.” The exact spelling is hard to decipher in the faded ink of this old handwritten letter.

1779 – In France, soybeans start to be cultivated at the Museum of Natural History. They may have been cultivated as early as 1740 (Paillieux 1880, p. 561).

1790 – In England, according to William T. Aiton, writing in A Catalog of the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew (1812), soybeans were first cultivated in England in 1790, being introduced by Walter Ewer, Esq.

1794 – In Germany, Konrad Mönch [Moench], a German botanist from Marburg, reports (in Latin) that soybeans are growing in the botanical garden at Marburg. This is the earliest document seen concerning soybeans in Germany, or the cultivation of soybeans in Germany. Mönch, who coined the genus name Soia and the species name hispida, referred to the soybean as Soia hispida. Previously it has been known by the name Linnaeus coined, Dolichos soja.

1795 – Soybeans are first referred to in English as “Soy Beans” by Charles Peter Thunberg, who had succeeded Kaempfer as physician at Deshima in Japan. The term first appears in the English translation of his book Travels in Europe, Africa, and Asia… (Vol. 1, p. 121).

Thunberg also describes how “Soy-sauce” is made (but he fails to mention koji) and he mentions that the soybean “grows in great plenty wild” (p. 121).

1804 – Soybeans are first cultivated in today’s Eastern Europe near Dubrovnik, in today’s Croatia on the Adriatic Sea (Hymowitz 1988, p. 160).

1804 – James Mease, in an entry titled “Soy” in The Domestic Encyclopedia (First American edition, vol. II, p. 357) writes mostly about soy sauce, which (he says) is imported from India and “prepared from the leguminous fruit of the Soja (Dolichos soja, L.) a native of Japan.” He ends by noting: "[The Soy-bean bears the climate of Pennsylvania very well. The bean ought therefore to be cultivated.]." Prior to 1983 this was widely considered to be the earliest stating that the soy-bean was in the United States and had been cultivated there.

1815 – The earliest known written reference to tempeh (spelled tempe in the old Javanese script) appears in the Serat Centhini, a book from today’s Indonesia.

1818 – Basil Hall, an Englishman, describing a feast by the king of Loochoo (in today’s Okinawa province) says: "There was something like cheese given us after the cakes, but we cannot form a probable conjecture of what it was made." It was probably tofuyo – Okinawan fermented tofu.

1819 Feb. – Yuba is first mentioned in an English-language document – The Port Folio, a periodical published in Philadelphia and London. It states: “The Chinese make great use of beans, not only to feed their sheep and cattle, but also as food for themselves, in what they call,… foo chack…” [dried yuba sticks].

1829 – Prof. Thomas Nuttall in a letter to the editor of the New England Farmer, states that he grew the soy beans in the Botanic Garden, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Unfortunately Nuttall did not indicate from where he obtained his soybeans. In 1831 a person known only as "H." received a few soybeans from Nuttall and grew them in Milton, Massachusetts.

1845 – Siebold and Zuccarini, in a German-language article on the flora of Japan, give the soybean its present genus name, Glycine, and the wild soybean its present full scientific name, Glycine soja.

1851 – The soybean is introduced to Illinois by Benjamin Franklin Edwards who obtained the seeds as a gift from shipwrecked Japanese in San Francisco. Dr. Edwards first gave these soybeans to horticulturist Mr. John H. Lea of Alton, Illinois, who planted them in his garden in 1851. Lea disseminated them to Mr. J.R. Jackson of Davenport, Iowa, and Mr. A.H. Ernst of Cincinnati, Ohio (Hymowitz 1987, p. 28-32).

Many of these early growers tried eating the soybean by boiling the dried beans. J.R. Jackson wrote: "I have tried them for table use, but I cannot say that I consider that they are a great acquisition there.”

1852 June 1 – The soybean is first referred to in English as the “Japan Pea.” (Ohio Cultivator, p. 168). This name was widely used in the USA for several decades.

1853 – A.H. Ernst of Cincinnati, Ohio, sends Japan peas (soybeans) to the Commissioner of Patents, who acknowledges this receipt in his Report of the Commissioner of Patents, Agriculture, for the year 1852 (p. 448). During the next decade, as part of his duty, the commissioner sends soybeans to the many farmers who request them. Many of these farmers send reports (often very favorable) of their soybean trials back to the patent office (Ernst 1854, p. 224-25; Graff 1949, p. 111).

1854 – When Commodore Matthew Perry’s expedition to Japan “opened” the country to Western commerce, the expedition’s agriculturist, Dr. James Morrow obtained soybean seeds which he sent to the Commissioner of Patents, Agriculture; these seeds were also sent to U.S. farmers (Green 1856).

1855 Jan. – In France, Baron de Montgaudry (the French Consul at Shanghai and Ning-po, China) publishes the first article that mentions soybeans in the very important Bulletin of the Society for Acclimatization (Bulletin de la Societe d'Acclimatation). He reports that two varieties of soybeans (Pois oléagineux, literally "oil peas") have been sent to the society by Mr. de Montigny.

1855 Feb. – The scientific name Soja hispida is first used to refer to the soybean (Browne, p. xv).

1855 April 12 – T.V.P. (T.V. Peticolas) of Mt. Carmel, Ohio, in a letter to the Country Gentleman, writes "... on the subject of the Japan Pea, or rather Bean. I have cultivated it for the last three years, and have disseminated it from Canada to Texas.” This could signal the arrival of the soybean in Canada, and even (possibly) its cultivation there. But we cannot be sure.

He also writes, expressing the experience of many in the late 1800s: “With respect to its qualities for the table, there is not much to say in its favor. When green, it is so difficult to divest it of the hull that it will be unpopular with cooks. When dry,… They require at least five hours boiling to make them tender enough to eat,… It will be necessary to cook some other Bean with them, as they are entirely destitute of flavor.”

1856 – In the Netherlands, Siebold & Comp. in Leyden publishes the first seed catalog in the Western world which offers soybeans for sale (p. 18). The catalog is written entirely in French. Philipp Franz von Siebold, a German physician, botanist and traveler, lived in Japan from 1823 to 1829 – mainly at Deshima.

1862 May 16 – Abraham Lincoln signs into law an act of Congress creating the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Lincoln appointed as its first Commissioner Isaac Newton, a farmer who had served as chief of the agricultural section of the Patent Office since Aug. 1861. USDA played a very important, ongoing role in the development of soybeans in the United States.

1862 July 2 – The Morrill Land Grant College Act, donating public land to the states for colleges of agriculture and the mechanical arts, is signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln. Every state accepted the terms of the act and established one or more such institutions – often designated with the word “State.” Thus, “Michigan State,” was the name of the agricultural college in the state of Michigan. Likewise, “Ohio State,” etc.

1867 – Koji is first mentioned in English in A Japanese and English Dictionary, by James C. Hepburn. It states: “Koji: Malt made by fermenting rice or barley, in the process of making sake, and soy [sauce].” This is also the first time that koji is incorrectly called “malt.” Also a first in English: “Koji-buta: A shallow box for holding malt.”

This remarkable dictionary is also the earliest English-language document seen that: (1) Contains the words “natto,” “nigari,” “tofu” or “yuba.” (2) Uses the word "shoyu" (spelled correctly like this) to refer to soy sauce. (3) Uses the word "kinako" to refer to roasted whole soy flour. (4) Uses the word Hiriodz [Hiriodzu] (the modern spelling is Hiryozu) which refers to Kyoto-style deep-fried tofu treasure balls. (5) Uses the word "sh'taji" or shitaji" to refer to soy sauce.

1870 – The word “Soybean,” written as one word, is first used to refer to the soybean by John Yeats (p. 191).

1873 – In Austria, at the Vienna World Exposition of 1873, Prof. Friedrich Haberlandt, of the Royal College of Agriculture in Vienna (Wiener Hochschule für Bodencultur), gathered a number of soybean varieties from the Chinese, Japanese, Mongolian, Transcaucasian and East Indian expositions. He first grew the soybeans in Vienna, then in early 1876 he sent samples of seeds to seven cooperators in central Europe, who planted and tested the seeds in the spring of 1876, with good or fairly good results in each case. Each year, as results of trials were sent to him, he sent soybeans to a growing number of cooperators in central and eastern Europe. In this way the soybean was first cultivated in many countries in that area.

1875 – The earliest known reference to tempe by a European appears in the Javaansch-Nederduitsch Handwoordenboek, by J.F.C. Gericke and T. Roorda.

1878 – In Austria, Prof. Haberlandt writes (in German) the first book about soybeans in the Western world. Titled The Soybean: Results of Studies and Trials on the Potential for Growing This Newly Introduced Crop Plant (Die Sojabohne: Ergebnisse der Studien und Versuche ueber die Anbauwuerdigkeit dieser neu einzufuehrenden Culturpflanze). It contains detailed results of all the soybean trials that have been conducted under his auspices plus the early history of the soybean starting with Kaempfer, and much more. Unfortunately Prof. Haberlandt died unexpectedly on 1 May 1878 at the young age of 52, shortly after publication of his book; his promising work was discontinued.

1878 – Fermented tofu (doufu-ru) is first made in the Western world in San Francisco by Wo Sing & Co., which also makes regular tofu (Wells Fargo & Co.).

1879 – The soybean is first cultivated at a U.S. land-grant institution, the Rutgers Scientific School, in New Jersey (Cook 1879). Such organizations are soon renamed “agricultural experiment stations” and each state has one. During the last two decades of the 1800s, researchers at such stations quickly take the lead in conducting scientific investigations on all aspects of soybean production and utilization, and in introducing soybeans to farmers in their respective states.

1880 Sept. – In France, Auguste Paillieux publishes the first of a series of excellent articles about The Soybean, Its Chemical Composition, Varieties, Culture, and Uses in the Bulletin of the Society for Acclimatization. The first article includes a good history of the soybean in France. In 1881 these articles are published in Paris as a very important 126-page book with the same title: Le Soya, Sa Composition Chimique, Ses Variétés, Sa Culture et Ses Usages.

1881 – The scientific name Glycine hispida is first used to refer to the soybean (Phares, p. 19).

1881 – C.R. Gilbert & Co. of Atlanta, Georgia, is the earliest known seed company in the United States that sells soy beans in its seed catalog. The next earliest, in 1883, is James M. Thorburn & Co. in New York City. By the last two decades of the 19th century, most American and European seed companies sell soybeans in their seed catalogs.

1882 Jan. – In Canada, W. Brown describes the earliest known cultivation of the soybean in that country. Professor of Agriculture and Farm Superintendent at the Ontario Agricultural College, he writes: “2. The Soja beans obtained from Mr. Bruce [of John A. Bruce & Co.], of Hamilton, have done well, half crops producing fifteen bushels per acre.”

1882 Sept. 16 – In Brazil, Gustavo D’Utra describes the earliest cultivation of the soybean (Soja) in Latin America at the Bahia School of Agriculture. He notes that Soja and Daidsu are Japanese names, that the Japanese use soybeans to make a paste called miso, which can be used as a substitute for butter, and a sauce called sooia or soja, which can be used to season meat.

1883 April – E. Meissl and F. Böcker of Austria publish the earliest known scientific study of the nutritional/chemical composition of the soybean, and of its oil and protein. They introduce (in German) the terms soy casein and soy albumin, and are also the first to state that soybeans contain lecithin.

A footnote states that they conducted their experiments in early 1880, but for various reasons presentation of the results was delayed until April 1883.

1883 Oct. – In Oceania and New Zealand, in an article about “A New Bean,” the Wanganui Chronicle describes the earliest know cultivation of the soybean in this vast region of the world. The article begins: “Mr. James Laird has introduced into this district [Wanagui/Whanagui, on the southwest coast of the North Island of New Zealand] a very prolific and nutritious bean called the Soja.”

1884 – The first person to examine the seeds of the soybean under a microscope and to illustrate and give names to the cellular layers and contents of one cell that he sees is Thomas Frans Hanausek, who writes in German and lives in Krems an der Donau in Lower Austria.

1886 Jan. – In France, Auguste Paillieux tells the members at a meeting of the Society for Acclimatization that an analysis of the soybean showed that it contains not even a trace of starch and therefore would make an excellent food for diabetics. He is the first to make a connection between the soybean and diabetic diets. He even applied for a patent on the subject.

Except for its use in soy sauce, the soybean first came to be widely used the Western world in diabetic diets.

1887 March 2 – The Hatch Act is signed into law in the USA by President Grover Cleveland. It gives federal funds, initially of $15,000 each, to state land-grant colleges in order to create a series of agricultural experiment stations, which are usually connected with those colleges founded under the Morrill Act of 1862. These experiment stations and their agricultural research programs are instrumental in the development of the soybean, a relatively new crop plant, in the United States.

1888 – In France, the first soyfoods began to be made and sold: (1) Soy & Gluten Bread, by Bourdin & Co. in Reims. This bread was developed for diabetics; (2) Lecerf’s Soya Bread, by Lecerf & Co.

1889 July– Kellner, Mori and Nagaoka write “Researches on the manufacture, composition, and properties of ‘koji,’” in the Bulletin of the College of Agriculture, Tokyo Imperial University. It is the best article about koji seen to date in English.

1889 Dec. – Kellner, Nagaoka, and Kurashima write “Researches on the manufacture and composition of ‘miso,’” in the Bulletin of the College of Agriculture, Tokyo Imperial University. It is the best article about miso seen to date in English. Many families in Japan’s countryside still (as of 1889) make their own miso at home. It is estimated that in 1889 Japanese prepare nearly 30 million kg of miso a year.

1890 – Greshoff, in the Netherlands, is the first to state that nodules on the roots of soybeans create free nitrogen and assimilate it. He does not, however, discuss nitrogen-fixing bacteria, which are essential to this process.

1890 Dec. – The earliest known named soybean variety, Eda Mame, is introduced to the United States by C.C. Georgeson of Kansas from Japan, where he had previously lived and taught. That same month, Georgeson, Cottrell and Shelton, write a key article in the Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin (No. 18) in which they mention three new named soybean varieties and start the convention of capitalizing the names of soybean varieties – e.g., “Yellow Soy Bean.” This article is also the earliest U.S. document seen that contains the word "Adzuki" (or "Azuki" or "Adsuki") beans.

1891 – The earliest known statistics on soybean production in Japan are published by Rathgen in German. Production of soybeans in Japan in 1878 is 414,960 cho and 1,642,183 koku. Note: 1 cho = 2.45 acres and 1 koku = 180 liters or 47.6 gallons.

1892 – The “domestic coffee berry” scam starts in America. Promoted as “the best coffee substitute known” and as “an enormous yielder,” it is nothing but the soybean – a fact that readers are not told. As news of the scam gets around, experiment stations rush to tell farmers to beware. Yet this is the earliest known U.S. document promoting the soybean as an alternative to coffee.

1893 – In 1888 Hellriegel and Wilfarth in Germany had shown that legumes fix nitrogen from the air when nodulated by specific bacteria present in the soil and contained in nodules on the plant roots. In 1893 W.P. Brooks of the Massachusetts (Hatch) experiment station demonstrated, in a classic experiment, that soybean yields were highest when root tubercules (nodules) were most abundant.

1894 – Charles A. Zavitz, writes his “Report of the Experimentalist” in the Ontario Agricultural College and Experimental Farm (Guelph), Annual Report - for the year 1893. He mentions several named soybean varieties sent by Prof. Charles C. Georgeson of Kansas. This is the 2nd earliest document seen that clearly refers to the cultivation of soybeans in Canada, or in Ontario province, Canada (May 1893).

This is also the earliest document seen by or about C.A.

Zavitz (Canada’s leading soybean pioneer) in connection with soybeans.

1894 – The word “soybean” is first written as one word (its modern English-language spelling) by Schlegel and Cordier.

1894 May 9 – Charles S. Plumb, director of the Purdue University (Indiana) Agricultural Experiment Station, writes “A substitute for coffee” in his experiment station’s Newspaper Bulletin. This is also the earliest document seen concerning soybeans in Indiana, or the cultivation of soybeans in Indiana. This document contains the earliest date seen for soybeans in Indiana (1884 or 1885), or for the cultivation of soybeans in Indiana (by 1892). The source of these soybeans is not known.

1895 and 1896 – Two articles by the Dutchman H.C. Prinsen Geerligs (who lives in Java) usher in the era of scientific research on tempeh by European microbiologists and food scientists. The 1896 article (which is a German translation of his 1895 Dutch-language article) is the first to spell the word “tempeh” (with an “h” on the end). It is also the first to give the name of the tempeh mold as Rhizopus Oryzae.

But other early Western authors, especially the Dutch, use the spelling témpé (Gericke and Rorda 1875; Heyne 1913) or tèmpé (Vorderman 1902; Stahel 1946).

1897 March – Tokio Nurseries Company’s General Catalogue of Plants, Bulbs, Seeds, &c. &c. is the earliest Japanese seed catalog (in English) seen that offers soybeans.

1897 March – An article by Thomas A. Williams titled “The soy bean as a forage crop” is the earliest English-language document seen that uses the word "machine" (thrashing machine) in connection with a specific machine for soybean production. The age of agricultural mechanization has begun.

1897 July 7 –“Soy beans as food for man,” an excellent article by C.F. Langworthy published in USDA Farmers’ Bulletin No. 58 (p. 20-23) is the earliest English-language document seen that contains the term "soy-bean milk." It is also the earliest U.S. government document or USDA document seen that uses the term "soy-bean milk" (or any other term containing the word "milk") to refer to soymilk – a key fact in legalizing use of the world “soymilk” in the name of commercial soymilk products in the USA.

1898 – The Office of Seed and Plant Introduction is established (largely by David Fairchild) within the U.S. Department of Agriculture to centralize introduction activities. Its periodical, first titled Foreign Seeds and Plants Imported by the Section of Seed and Plant Introduction, USDA, Inventory, begins publication the same year. In it are recorded the details of every seed or plant introduced, starting with a permanent and unique number known as the S.P.I. number (later P.I. number). The first soybean introduced under this system, S.P.I. No. 480, was from South Ussurie, Siberia. In March 1898 the seeds were received through Prof. N.E. Hansen.

1898 – In an article on “The acquisition of atmospheric nitrogen,” W.M. Munson of the Maine agricultural experiment station states (under “Practical applications”): “The prepared culture, sold as Nitragin or Germ Fertilizer, is made in Germany and may be obtained of Victor Koechl & Co., 79 Murray St., New York.” This was a new technology, and this is the earliest document seen that mentions Nitragin or any other commercial inoculum. Note: Nitragin had been developed and commercialized by Feb. 1896 by Messrs. Hellriegel, Wilfarth, and Prof. Nobbe of Tharland, Saxony (Voelcker 1896).

Munson tested Nitragin on various crops, but not on soja beans. He noted "no appreciable effect from the inoculation." He did, however, have good results inoculating soja beans with tubercles from a previous crop.

1898 – Osborne and Campbell of the Connecticut agricultural experiment station write “Proteids of the soy bean. (Glycine hispida)” – an important article, and the world’s first special investigation of soy proteins.

It is also the earliest U.S. agricultural experiment station publication seen which is entirely about soy beans. And it is the earliest English-language document seen that uses the word "albumin" (or "albumins"), or the word "globulin" (or "globulins"), or the word "glycinin," or the word "legumelin," or the word "proteose" in connection with soy beans.

1899 – Munson of Maine first tries using a commercial bacterial inoculum (nitragin) on soja beans – unsuccessfully.

Click here to download the full text to open and read book Early History of Soybeans and Soyfoods Worldwide (1024 BCE to 1899)