Early History of Soybeans and Soyfoods Worldwide (1915-1923)

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1-948436-36-6

Publication Date: 2021 April 15

Number of References in Bibliography: 4140

Earliest Reference: 1915

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Early History of Soybeans and Soyfoods Worldwide (1915-1923)

1915 Jan. – Taylor Fouts writes his first article about soy beans, titled “Soy beans – A coming crop,” in the Purdue Agriculturist (p. 9-13). He discusses four advantages of planting corn and soy beans (especially the Hollybrook variety) together. Three photographs accompany the article – including one of “hogging off” soybeans.

1915 Jan. – Background. Japan, acting like a Western imperial power, during World War I, presented a weak China with her “Twenty-One Demands.” “The demands would greatly extend Japanese control of Manchuria and of the Chinese economy, and were opposed by Britain and the United States. In the final settlement Japan gained a little but lost a great deal of prestige and trust in Britain and the US.

“The Chinese people responded with a spontaneous nation-wide boycott of Japanese goods; Japan's exports to China fell 40%.”

1915 Jan. – William J. Morse (of USDA's Office of Forage Crop Investigations), the man most responsible for introducing green vegetable soybeans and vegetable type soybeans to the United States, mentions them for the first time in a USDA special publication titled "Soy beans in the cotton belt": "The green bean when three-fourths to full grown has been found to compare favorably with the butter or Lima bean."

1915 Nov. – The Takamine Laboratory, which makes and does research on Taka-Diastase and other koji products, moves to Passaic, New Jersey – about 10 miles west of Manhattan. Joe Takamine, Jr. is now in charge of this facility (Scott 1922, History of Passaic and Its Environs, Vol. III, p. 372).

1915 Dec. – The Elizabeth City Oil and Fertilizer Co. in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, crushes the first American-grown soybeans. In America, soy oil is first used (in small amounts) in margarine in 1912 and in shortening in 1914. During its postwar recovery, Europe imported large amounts of soy oil.

1915 – Mozambique (Portuguese East Africa until 1975). Soybeans are first cultivated (Oil and Colour Trades Journal) (London). They were next cultivated in 1938 (Daenhardt 1973).

1916 July 2 – In the Chicago Daily Tribune the Dyer Packing Co. of Vincennes, Indiana, runs the first of many large display ads titled “Better Beans at Lower Cost.” The company is now canning Dyer’s Pork and Beans with Tomato Sauce; the beans are a mixture of soja and navy beans.

“During the 1916 season about 100,000 bushels of American-grown soy beans were packed as baked beans by several canning companies in the Central and Eastern States” (W.J. Morse, Yearbook of the USDA, 1918).

Whole soybeans are also being canned in France for the French army (Balland, Feb. 1917).

1916 fall – A second soybean day is held at the "Fouts Bros. Farms – more acres, varieties, and experiences, and more folks to see and talk." Interest in the new crop is growing.

1916 – Frank N. Meyer, USDA agricultural explorer in China, first encounters fermented tofu in China. He sends samples back to Washington, DC. His first description reads: “Parcel No. 125c, contains first quality Chinese soybean cheese; please taste a little on the point of a knife; it is extremely appetising.” In this future letters he also refers to it as “Chinese bean cheese,” or “bean cheese” He notes that there are several kinds of this soft cheese in China.

1916 or 1917Bermuda: Soybeans are first grown, as a source of green manure (McCallan 1921, p. 5).

1917 April 6 – United States enters the European War (Great War; World War I) by declaring war on Germany. Almost overnight, the war catapults the soybean into prominence as a source of high-quality, low-cost protein and oil. On August 10 the U.S. Food Administration is established by executive order. Herbert Hoover is appointed U.S. Food Administrator. On Sept. 29, 1917, Hoover unveils his famous slogan: “Food will win the war.” To avoid rationing Hoover and team of professionals persuade Americans to eat little or no meat, white wheat flour, sugar and butter, so these can be sent to our allies (and after April 1917 our troops) in Europe. Soybeans are repeatedly promoted as a “meat substitute” and soybean flour as an extender for wheat flour.

Imports of soybean oil soar to almost unimaginable levels, never seen before or since: rising from 145 million lb. in 1916, to 265 million lb. in 1917, to a peak of 337 million lb. in 1918, then falling to 195 million lb. in 1919, 112 million lb. in 1920, and 17 million lb. in 1921.

This oil comes mostly from Japan and Manchuria; it was used mostly in soaps and as a source of nitroglycerin (an explosive). Glycerin is a by-product in the manufacture of soap; 10 tons of fat are required to yield one ton of glycerin (Bailey 1919, p. 1).

Also from 1916 to 1921 the United States imported large quantities of soybeans; net imports peaked in 1918 at about 40 million bushels (Mumford 1937).

1917 May 19 – An article titled “Soybeans for Human Food,” by Kay B. Park, published in Ohio Farmer is the first to recommend that soybeans not be cooked in the water in which they are soaked. “One result of the work is that an exceedingly simple household method has been found by which soybeans can be made as palatable as navy beans. The process consists merely in soaking the beans overnight in a large excess of hot water or until the bad flavor has disappeared, which can be determined by tasting. The water should be poured off and the beans rinsed. When the strong flavor has been removed the beans can be cooked like navy beans.”

1917 June 10 – A major article in the New York Times Magazine (Sunday, p. 9) titled “Woman off to China as Government Agent to Study Soy Bean: Dr. Kin Will Make Report for United States on the Most Useful Food of Her Native Land,” is the earliest document seen that describes Dr. Kin’s new line of work. “She left New York a few days ago for the orient to gather data on that humble but nutritious food [the soy bean] for the Department of Agriculture at Washington… The appointment of Dr. Kin marks the first time the United States Government has given so much authority to a Chinese. That it is a woman in whom such extraordinary confidence is now reposed detracts nothing from the interest of the story.”

“And now Dr. Kin is going to see if her native land can teach the United States how to develop a taste for the soy bean in its numerous disguises...

“’The world is in need of tissue-building foods,’ said Dr. Kin, ‘and cannot very well afford to wait to grow animals in order to obtain the necessary percentage of protein. Waiting for an animal to become big enough to eat is a long proposition. First you feed grain to a cow, and, finally, you get a return in protein from milk and meat. A terribly high percentage of the energy is lost in transit from grain to cow to a human being.’”

“'We do not eat the plain bean in China at all. It is never [sic] eaten there as a vegetable, but in the complex food products – natto, tofu, miso, yuba, shoyu, and similar dishes. '”

In this article she focuses on tofu, but also mentions bean sprouts and cheese [fermented tofu] – “a cross between Camembert and Roquefort.” “'A black soy bean sauce we use as a foundation for sweetmeats in China.'”

“She will return to this country in October, bringing to our Government the detailed results of her study of the uses of the soy bean as a foodstuff…”

1917 Aug. 1 – Frank N. Meyer, after sending “Chinese soybean cheese” [fermented tofu] to the USDA in Washington, DC (on 21 Nov. 1916) and getting a favorable response, writes from Hankow: "I am certainly very much interested to hear that Mrs. [Yamei] Kin has obtained a commission from the Bureau of Chemistry to investigate the bean cheese industry... a subject like this is too fascinating to leave it alone. I do not think Mrs. Kin will find that bacteria play much of a role in this bean cheese affair; it seems a mould does the work... It pleases me that you and almost everybody to whom you served the bean cheese, liked it... Did Mrs. Kin put you in touch with a New York firm of Chinese products where this bean cheese can be obtained?" (Letters of Frank N. Meyer).

1917 Sept. 27 – Dr. Yamei Kin sails to the United States from Hong Kong on the ship Princess Charlotte. The manifest states that she is age 53 and widowed. Her last permanent residence was New York. Her destination is 56 West 11th Street, New York City, New York.

She arrives in the USA in October. In her first published interview about her 6-month trip to China she says: “Americans do not know how to get the best results from soy beans as human food. The popular method in China is to assemble or collect the protein in a white curd [tofu], which forms the basis of many palatable dishes. Fried in oil, this curd tastes like particularly delicate sweetbreads; and it contains more strength-giving qualities than even Merrie England's prime roast beef” (Cotton Oil Press, Oct. p. 25).

Among the things she has collected in China and sent back to USDA is “Chinese red rice, or ang-kak” for making red fermented tofu (Church 1920, p. 45-46).

1917 Sept. – The term “soy-bean pulp” is first used in the popular Good Housekeeping magazine in an article titled “Soy: The Coming Bean,” by William Leavitt Stoddard. Eight soy recipes are given; six call for whole “soy beans” and two for “soy-bean meal” – full-fat soy flour. The term soy-bean pulp probably refers to whole soybeans that have been baked then ground or mashed to a pulp.

The term is next used (very clearly) on 2 Jan. 1918 in several recipes in the Boston Daily Globe.

1917 Dec. – Eight Mogi and Takanashi family companies, the leading shoyu producers in the Noda area, merge to form Noda Shoyu Co., Ltd., a company with capital of ¥7 million and the predecessor of Kikkoman Corporation.

1917 – Fermented tofu is first referred to in English as “foo-yue” (Chan 1917). This is the first of many names with this sound; others are fuyu, fu-yu, foo-yu, etc.

1917 – During World War I, USDA researchers conduct cooking tests on many soybean varieties in search of an inexpensive source of protein that lacks the typical unpleasant beany flavor and will cook quickly. Only two such varieties are found - Hahto and Easy Cook; both are large-seeded. Some progress is made in convincing Americans to eat these varieties - but only as whole dry soybeans.

1917 – An estimated 460,000 acres of soybeans are grown in the United States in 17 states; this is probably double the acreage of 1916 (Oakley 1918, p. 523-25).

1917 – Soymilk is being produced commercially in the U.S. by J.A. Chard Soy Products in New York City (Piper & Morse 1916, p. 9).

1917 – The term “soybean flour” is first used to refer to soy flour (New York Produce Review).

1917-1918 – In the book chapter Our Agricultural Debt to Asia, Walter T. Swingle writes (1945): “As long ago as 1917-1918 Dr. Yamei Kin set up under my general supervision for the U.S. Department of Agriculture a soy bean mill in New York City in the hope of supplying tofu to increase the bulk and food value of meat dishes served to soldiers in training at near-by camps. Dr. Kin succeeded in making excellent tofu. She even served to a group of army officers a meal composed entirely of soy bean dishes! However, it proved impossible to test tofu on a large scale at that time, since we could not get priority for transportation of soy beans from North Carolina, then the nearest region where they were grown on any considerable scale.”

1918 early – Morse writes “The soy-bean industry in the United States” in the Yearbook of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (p. 101-111). In the section titled “Soy beans for human food,” he discusses dried beans, green beans [edamame], soy-bean milk, soy-bean cheese [tofu], soy sauce, and soy-bean sprouts. In a separate section: soybean flour and meal.

1918 Feb. – Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, in an article titled “The Soy Bean” published in Good Health magazine, describes an ingenious way to pressure cook soybeans without using a pressure cooker and with no concern about stirring or burning.

1918 Feb. – The term “whole soy-beans” first appears in the Journal of Home Economics (p. 64-70).

1918 March – Arao Itano of Japan is the world’s first person to conceive of making an ice cream from soy. In an article titled “Soy beans as human food,” in the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin No. 182 he states “Vegetable butter, ice cream, oil (table use) and lard (cooking): The manufacture of these articles from soy beans further investigation.” He also gives the first recipe for making roasted soybean coffee at home. He grinds the roasted soybeans in a coffee mill. And he gives the earliest known description of how to make yuba at home. Unfortunately his description is too vague to be practical.

1918 May – The use of a mechanical “soy-bean picker” is first described. This is a fairly complex machine specifically designed to facilitate the difficult work of picking soy beans and similar legumes (A.G. Smith 1918, Farmers’ Bulletin {USDA} No. 931, p. 18). Such mechanical pickers are widely made and used in North Carolina. The “agricultural revolution” is entering the world of soy bean cultivation.

1918 July 30 – The Boston Daily Globe writes: “Odd as it may seem, and incredible as it may appear, the Boston baked bean of today is almost invariably the soya bean, which is imported from China and grown on Southern estates, from Virginia to the Mississippi,…”

1918 July – Morse writes “The soy bean: Its culture and uses,” in Farmers’ Bulletin (USDA) No. 973 (32 p.). For the first time he writes extensively about food uses of soybeans, and the growing interest in soybean foods.

1918 JulySingapore: Earliest document seen that mentions soybean cultivation in the Straits Settlements (in today’s Singapore) (Garden’s Bulletin, Straits Settlements 1918 July 4, p. 4). But there must be much earlier dates reported in native language documents.

1918 Oct. – In an article titled “The soy bean’s many aliases,” Sarah MacDougal writes the best, most comprehensive story about Dr. Yamei Kin’s work, after returning from China, developing foods from soybeans that are suited to American tastes. Wearing a blue silk kimono, Dr. Kin is working at the USDA Laboratory on the top floor at 641 Washington St. in New York City. She discusses soymilk, tofu, and fermented tofu. Her home is in an apartment at 56 Eleventh St., New York City.

“Dr. Kin has been trying any number of experiments with a view to boosting the bean to a bigger place commercially. In due time the results of all these experiments will be catalogued at Washington [DC]. Because she is working for the Government, Dr. Kin doesn't disclose many details about the things she is doing. All that is worth while will be public information in due time, she says.”

“'My boy [Alexander] is at the front doing his bit,' she told me simply, and added: 'I want to do mine, too'” (p. 44).

Randall E. Stross, in his 1986 book The Stubborn Earth: American Agriculturalists on Chinese soil, 1898-1937, has a section about Dr. Yamei Kin (p. 32-33): “When Kin left for China in the summer of 1917, she was supposed to study the soybean exclusively and to return to the United States in the fall to present her report. But things did not go as planned. The USDA apparently did not receive any report on soybeans.”

1918 Nov. 11 – World War I ends as Germany signs the armistice. The Allies or Triple Entente win; Germany or the Central Powers lose. There were over 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history.

1918 – C.Y. Shih, writing in English from the Biology Dept., Soochow Univ., China, describes various types of fermented tofu: ju fu, tsao ju fu, chiang ju fu, ham ju fu, and ch’ing hsien ju fu.

1918 – "The name Soyland was adopted for the farm and seemed to fit." The Fouts brothers soon find themselves working as seedsmen, selling soybean seed. For many years the price had stayed around $2.00 to $2.50 a bushel, but in 1917, because of demand and shortages during World War I, the price rose to $3.00, climbing to $5.00 in 1918, then $6-8/bushel in 1919. "At the end of that period we were offered $10.00 per bushel so we scoured the community for remnants from seeding and shipped 30 bushels for $300.00" (Taylor Fouts 1944, p. 15).

1919 Feb. 26The Madison Survey, printed by the Madison College Printing Dept. (in Madison, Tennessee), begins weekly publication. It contains many articles about Madison’s pioneering work with vegetarianism and soyfoods.

1919 July 30 – Use of a tractor for soybean production is first mentioned. It is being used at Madison College in Madison, Tennessee (Madison Survey, p. 3).

1919 Aug. – William G. Bowers, in “Some studies on the nutritive value of the soy bean in the human diet,” coins the term “soy bran” to refer to soybean hulls (North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station, Special Bulletin, Food Department).

1919 – The second nationwide statistics for soybean production and acreage in the USA become available. Soybean acreage is 112,826 in 1919 compared with only 1,629 in 1909 – a 69-fold increase. Production is 1,084,812 bushels compared with only 16,835 bushels in 1909 – a 64-fold increase. The top three states in soybean acreage are North Carolina 47,041 acres, Virginia 10,283, and Tennessee 7,649 (14th Census of the United States, 1922, p. 777).

1919 – Dr. Jun Hanzawa, of Hokkaido University’s Department of Agriculture, published the first of three key reports which helped to bring natto production in Japan out of the “Dark Ages.” Serving simultaneously as a microbiologist, and extension worker, and a pilot plant operator, Dr. Hanzawa began by making a pure-culture bacterial inoculum for natto; this enabled commercial natto manufacturers, for the first time, to discontinue the use of rice straw as a source of inoculum. Secondly, disliking the use of rice straw even as a wrapper, he developed a simple, low-cost method for packing, incubating, and selling natto wrapped in paper-thin sheets of pine wood (kyōgi) or small boxes of pine veneer (oribako). A third important improvement followed shortly; the development of a new incubation room design (bunka muro), which had an air vent on the ceiling and substantially decreased the natto failure rate. These three developments laid the basis for modern industrial, sanitary, scientific natto manufacture. Commercial natto makers filled his classes and he worked as a consultant for them. Like Dr. Muramatsu before him, Dr. Hanzawa sold his “University Natto” from his research lab, promoting it as a rival to cheese. He was given the appellation of “the father of modern natto production.” In 1971 he was given the honor of addressing the emperor of Japan on the subject of natto.

1920 March – Garner and Allard understand the crucial importance of the relative length of day and night in the flowering of soybeans. USDA physiologists, they call this “photoperiodism.”

1920 Aug. 31 – Morse writes Prof. Piper from Champaign, Illinois. "My trip this far has been one of the best soy bean trips I have ever experienced. It is remarkable how interest in the soy bean has increased throughout the northern and central states. It is rather gratifying to note how the varieties sent out by our office are taking hold. The Virginia especially is coming into favor… Thursday I leave with Prof. Hackleman by auto for Camden, Indiana, for a visit to the famous soy bean farms of the Fouts Bros. They call it 'Soyland.'”

1920 Sept. 3 – The biggest event in the history of the soybean in America to date takes place on Taylor Fouts' farm, “Soyland,” in Camden, Carroll Country, Indiana. One thousand people from six states are present at the first “Corn Belt Soy Bean Field Day & Conference,” under the auspices of the Extension department of Purdue University (especially W.A. Ostrander) and the Carroll County Farm bureau (A.L. Hodgson, agricultural agent).

The National Soybean Growers’ Association (renamed American Soybean Association in late 1925) is founded at this meeting. W.J. Morse was there, seated on the platform, and was ever after considered one of the founding members. Taylor Fouts is elected its first president and W.A. Ostrander is elected secretary. It is unanimously agreed that a soy bean field day be held each year as a vital activity of the association. The organization was formalized later that year at a business session held in Chicago, Illinois, during the International Livestock Exposition and the International Hay and Grain Show.

The Fouts brothers planted a number of variety test plots for the occasion; they grew 150 acres designed for seed and hay, and planted soybeans in over 200 acres of their corn. One thousand people attend and have a great time. Taylor demonstrated a "small direct harvesting machine" for soybeans which he apparently developed or invented. W.E. Riegel wrote of this machine in 1944 as a forerunner of the combine, first used to harvest soybeans in 1924 (in Illinois). The combine revolutionized soybean production in America.

Taylor wrote a song about soybeans, which is sung by a quartet of local growers. Lunch includes soybean salads and crunchy roasted and salted soybeans – "a rare treat." A panoramic photograph (three feet wide) is taken showing all attendees with the Fouts home in the background. Another photo shows the three Fouts brothers, each wearing a hat, coat, and tie, standing in front of the "Soyland" barn.

1920 – Clyde M. Woodworth, the first soybean geneticist, arrives at the University of Illinois. With his arrival, an active soybean genetics and breeding program begins. That same year he selects the variety Illini; it is introduced into demonstration plots in 1924 and released in 1926. By 1930 it occupies 75% of the commercial soybean acreage in Illinois.

1920Guam: Soybeans are first cultivated (Briggs 1922).

1920 – Soybean production in Japan peaks at about 548,000 metric tons per year, as Japan begins to import more and more low-cost soybeans from Manchuria and Korea. As a result, soybeans become unprofitable for Japanese farmers and they tend to grow soybeans mainly for their own home use. Soybean production in Japan continues to fall until 1945 – near the end of World War II.

1920: Dr. A.A. Horvath’s first work that mentions the soybean appears in Russian: "A study of the large horned cattle of the interior of China." In: Mongolian Expedition, Material Relating to the Report. Harbin. Vol. XI.

1920 – Red fermented tofu is first mentioned in English by Margaret B. Church of the Bureau of Chemistry, USDA. She refers to it as “Chinese red cheese.” It is made red by the use of red fermented rice or ang-kak. Church is also the first to use the terms “Chinese cheese,” “soy cheese,” or “Chinese soy cheese” to refer to fermented tofu.

1920Turkey and Persia (Iran): 0.4 million piculs of yellow soybeans are exported from China “To Turkey, Persia, Egypt, etc.” (Chinese Economic Monthly, June 1924, p. 12-19). Note: We cannot say for sure to which of these countries the soybeans were exported. Yet these are the first soybeans in the Middle East.

1921 Jan. 21 – Ladislaus Berczeller, PhD, of Vienna, Austria-Hungary, is issued a German patent for making soy flour. His new product is the subject of a long article titled “'Manna' for the hungry” in the Times (London) (Sept. 28).

1921 April 27 – The term “canned soybeans” is first used by J.C. Hackleman of the University of Illinois, in a letter to W.J. Morse.

1921 – La Sierra Industries (Arlington, California), founded by Theodore A. Van Gundy, launches La Sierra Smoein – A bacon-flavored smoked soy powder seasoning. This is America’s first commercial soy-based meat alternative; it is made from roasted soy flour.

1921Congo Republic (French). Soybeans are first cultivated (Bulletin de la Societe d’Acclimation 1921).

1921 – The term "bean paste" is first used to refer to miso by J.L. North of England in the Illustrated London News.

1921 Dec.U.S. Virgin Islands: Soybeans (22 varieties) received from the U.S. are first grown experimentally (Thompson 1923, p. 3-4).

1921Paraguay: Soybeans are first cultivated, introduced by Pedro N. Ciancio (Ciancio 1951, p. 490).

1921 approx. – Morocco. Soybeans are first cultivated (Kaltenbach 1936, Aug.).

1921A Treatise on the Transformation of the Intestinal Flora with Special Reference to the Implantation of Bacillus acidophilus, by Leo F. Rettger and Harry A. Cheplin is published by Yale University Press (v + 135 p.). Rettger is a professor of bacteriology at Yale. This classic work shows that beneficial bacteria, such as Bacterium acidophilus, can be successfully established in the human intestine by oral administration. It also contains a good history of the subject. The excellent bibliography of 174 references shows that much of the research in this emerging field has been conducted in Germany.

1922 – The A.E. Staley Manufacturing Company, in Decatur, Illinois, is the first major U.S. company existing today to begin crushing soybeans to yield oil and meal.

1922 – Nishii Super Shoyu and Miso are the earliest known commercial soy products made in South America or Peru (Kawakami 1991).

1922-1928 – Cuba and Dominican Republic: Soybean oil is exported from the United States to these two Caribbean countries (U.S. Tariff Commission, 1929, p. 283-84).

1922Alberta, Canada: Soybeans are first cultivated in this province (MacConkey 1936).

1922 Nov. 16 – In Ontario, Canada, soybeans are now cultivated commercially.Jeffrey Bros., and the Broadfield Stock Farm, near Whitby, Ontario, Canada cultivated nearly 100 acres of soybeans this year. People are growing soybeans in a commercial way in Canada” (Campbell 1922. p. 641).

1922 March – Soy Bean Meat, America’s 2nd soy-based meat alternative, is introduced by Madison Foods in Madison, Tennessee. This is also the earliest known commercial soy product made in Tennessee. Also in 1922 Madison Foods launched Soy Beans (Plain, Canned) and Savory Meat (Meatless).

1922 – La Choy Food Products begins to sell soy sauce in the United States. Based in Detroit, Michigan, the company was founded to produce mung bean sprouts in Detroit, by Mr. Ilhan New (a Korean) and Wally Smith. Soon they are doing a booming business and by 1922 they are importing fermented soy sauce from China in wooden barrels to use as a seasoning in their Asian food products. Mr. New is the earliest known Korean to make soyfoods in the Western world. By 1923 Chinese & Korean Soy Co. was selling soy sauce in Honolulu, Hawaii.

1922 – Indonesia is now importing a record 4.2 million bushels a year of soybeans. But this figure slowly begins to decrease, falling to 3.6 million bushels by 1930, then to only 0.3 million bushels by 1935 (Burtis 1950, p. 68).

1922 Nov. 28 – Lee Len Thuey, a citizen of the United States and a resident of Indianapolis, Indiana, is the world’s first person to be issued a patent for a soy ice cream. Titled “Frozen confection and process of making same,” he filed the application on 18 Oct. 1920. It was made from tofu, flavoring, and a sweetener.

1922 April – In Japan, the oil production department of Suzuki Shokai [which went bankrupt in 1922] becomes independent and founds Hohnen Oil Co., Ltd. (Hohnen Seiyu).

1923 Jan. 29 – A recipe for “Chop suey” in the Quebec Daily Telegraph (Canada) first refers to soy sauce as “the Worcestershire of China.”

1923 Feb.The Soybean, by C.V. Piper and W.J. Morse (xv + 329 p.) is published by McGraw-Hill Book Co. in New York City. This classic is the most important book on soybeans and soyfoods published up to that time, and the first major book written about this plant in the United States. It is impossible to overestimate the significance of this work. It contains a 40-page chapter with 26 photographs from East Asia on soybean products for human food, an additional 20 pages of Western-style soyfoods recipes (developed for Morse by the USDA Office of Home Economics in Washington, DC), and a very valuable bibliography containing 563 entries on all aspects of the soybean, worldwide.

This book also contains many other “firsts.” First use of the term “soybean coffee” (p. 227). First detailed description of Hamanatto (p. 245). Earliest known photograph of yuba being made commercially. Earliest known practical and useful description of how yuba is made on a commercial scale (p. 246).

It contains a long section titled "Immature or Green Soybeans" (p. 221-22) that includes a description, nutritional analysis, and recipe ideas. It also includes the first photograph in a U.S. publication of green vegetable soybeans, showing many cooked, open pods on a white plate. The caption reads: "Seeds and pods of the Hahto variety of soybeans, the seeds being especially valuable as a green vegetable." Between 1915 and 1929 Morse mentioned green vegetable soybeans in more than 20 publications.

1923 Sept. 1 – The Great Kanto/Tokyo Earthquake (Kantō Daishinsai) strikes killing more than 100,000 people. Some 70% of the miso factories in the area are burned down, causing a shortage of miso. But miso makers in other parts of Japan use this opportunity to ship their miso to Tokyo, and the people of Tokyo come to realize the good taste of miso made elsewhere in Japan.

1923 Sept. – Monticello Co-operative Soybean Products Co. (Monticello, Piatt Co., Illinois), America’s first cooperative soybean crusher, begins operation. It is also the first U.S. plant to use solvent extraction – benzol.

1923 Dec. 6 – W.J. Morse, USDA, is elected president of the American Soybean Association (ASA) for one year (1923-24) at the annual winter meting in Chicago, Illinois. He was also elected chair of the “Soybean nomenclature” committee, and chair of the subcommittee on soybean variety registration He was elected president again in 1925 and in 1931. He was a mainstay of support of the ASA from 1920 until his retirement from USDA in1949.

1923Mrs. Beeton’s Cookery, by Isabella Mary Beeton (of England) contains a recipe for “Worcestershire sauce” (p. 136) in which soy [sauce] is used an ingredient – a relatively late recipe of this type. Another ingredient is walnut ketchup, which may well have served as a substitute for soy sauce.

1923 – The two oldest existing Japanese-American tofu companies (House Foods & Yamauchi Inc. of Los Angeles and Aala Tofu Co. of Honolulu) are founded in Hawaii. They both began as H. Iwanaga Daufu at 1031 Aala St. in Honolulu. In 1926 the company was renamed Shoshiro Kanehori Tofu, and in 1937 Haruko Uyeda Tofu, still at the same address. In about 1939 the company was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Shokin Yamauchi, who later renamed it Aala Tofu Co. Their son, Shoan Yamauchi, made tofu at the family company until 1946, when he went to Los Angeles, purchased the Hinode Tofu Co., and began making tofu there in 1947. After becoming Matsuda-Hinode Tofu Co. in 1963, the company was renamed House Foods & Yamauchi Inc. in 1983.

1923: Dr. A.A. Horvath joins the staff of the Peking Union Medical College (PUMC), established by the Rockefeller Foundation. Working under a Rockefeller grant, he is put in charge of a new soybean research laboratory and program, which soon begins to generate many important publications on soyfoods and nutrition.

1923Mali. Soybeans are first cultivated (Vuillet 1924).

1923 – OAC 211, a soybean variety developed by Charles Zavitz, becomes the first soybean registered in Canada. By 1939 six soybean varieties had been registered in Canada (Tanner 1993).

1923 – A 24-page mail-order seed catalog titled "Soyland Seeds: Soybeans our specialty" is published by the “Fouts Brothers” (company name) of Camden, Indiana. It describes many soybean varieties that are for sale and gives details on growing and harvesting soybeans. They also sell Michikoff seed wheat, Victory Oats, Calico Seed Corn, and clover seeds. By 1925 they have added Red Star fertilizer to their product line.

During the period 1900 to 1923 soybeans in the United States were grown mostly as a forage crop (including hay and silage) and for soil improvement – rather than for their seeds. A large percentage of soybean acreage was interplanted with other crops (especially corn). Not until 1941 did the area harvested for seed/beans surpass the area harvested for forage.

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