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Thu, 07.19.1849

Joseph Lee, Inventor born

Joseph Lee

Joseph Lee’s birth in 1849 is celebrated on this date. He was a Black inventor and businessman.

Lee was born in Boston, MA, and worked at a bakery as a boy. He soon began preparing, cooking, and serving food, eventually opening two successful restaurants in the Boston area. In the late 1890s, Lee owned and managed the Woodland Park Hotel in Newton, MA, for 17 years.  In 1902, to maintain an involvement in the food services industry, Lee opened a catering business called the Lee Catering Company that served the wealthy population of Boylston Street in the Back Bay.

At the same time, he also operated the Squantum Inn, a summer resort in South Shores specializing in seafood. The catering business was a great success, and during this time, he became interested in eliminating the waste of bread, which would have to be thrown out if it was as much as a day old. Instead of simply throwing stale bread away, he decided to use it to make breadcrumbs.  Thus, he invented a device that could mechanize tearing, crumbling, and grinding bread into crumbs. He finally patented the invention, U.S. patent 504 553, on June 4, 1895.  He used the breadcrumbs for various dishes, including croquettes, batter for cakes, fried chops, and fish.  He soon sold the rights to his bread-crumbling machine before the Royal Worcester Bread Crumb Company of Boston had the devices in major restaurants worldwide.

Lee then looked for another way of improving food preparation and invented the automatic bread-making machine. The machine mixed the ingredients and kneaded the dough so quickly and efficiently it could perform the tasks of five or six men and did so more hygienically and at a much lower cost. It also produced a higher quality product with a much better taste and texture. He received a patent for the machine, the basis for machines still used today.

Joseph Lee was an honored pioneer in the food preparation industry.  He died in 1905.


Gobal Black

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
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P.O. Box 1450
Alexandria, VA 22313

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