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Time line traces more than 400 years of key food events

Americans prefer original recipes using brand-name products.

That's one of the findings from a survey conducted by Dr. Louis Grivetti, a nutritional geographer/professor of nutrition at the University of California, Davis.Many foods rated "authentically American" were introduced to this country from abroad. Thirty-five percent of those questioned said pizza is "extremely" American. Actually, it dates back to Roman times in a form similar to focaccia bread. Some historians say Thomas Jefferson "brought" macaroni and cheese from France. Nearly 60 percent argued that the hot dog (originating in Germany), is "extremely" American.

When food is concerned, the majority of consumers want the "real thing."

Commissioned by the folks at Hidden Valley Original Ranch dressing (who were thrilled with the results), the poll indicated that a majority feel authentic American food tastes better when prepared according to "back of the box" original recipes. No substitutions.

Incidentally, Hidden Valley Ranch dressing was selected best by a two-to-one margin.

Grivetti and company created a time line over 400 years that traces the key events in food history. Here's an abbreviated version of their findings:

B.C. 75,000-45,000 -- Asian hunter-gatherers reach North America

B. C. 4000 -- Key dietary staples domesticated

A.D. 1492 -- Columbus reaches Caribbean

1495 -- Columbus introduces European foods

1518 -- Fork first used as an eating utensil

1553 -- White potatoes, domesticated in South America, first mentioned in European books

1579 -- First introduction of cattle, horses, pigs and sheep into North America

1620 -- Pilgrims reach Plymouth, Massachusetts -- bring first apples to America

1643 -- First restaurant opened in America (Boston)

1690 -- Ketchup originated in China as a pickled fish sauce

1762 -- First sandwich invented by John Mattague, Fourth Earl of Sandwich

1796 -- Amelia Simmons wrote the first cook book in America

1801 -- Johnathon Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) active in American West.

1818 -- Tin can introduced to North America by Peter Durand

1819 -- First food canning business in NYC

1832 -- Orange and lemon trees shipped from Sicily to America

1850 -- Chewing gum first commercially manufactured in Maine

1851 -- First U.S. cheese factory. Ice-making machine patented.

1863 -- First breakfast cereal developed

1877 -- Milk bottle developed in Brooklyn

1897 -- John T. Dorrance prepares first canned soup concentrate

1904 -- Hamburger sold at St. Louis World's Fair

1916 -- First electric refrigerators sell for $900

1923 -- First American "supermarkets" in California and New York.

1927 -- Wonder Bread introduced

1929 -- Coin-operated vending machine patented

1932 -- Corn chips invented

1936 -- SPAM introduced

1938 -- Teflon discovered

1940 -- McDonalds drive-in opens

1941 -- M&M plain chocolate candy born

1944 -- U.S. candy consumption reaches 20 pounds per capita

1946 -- Frozen french fries are introduced

1949 -- Boxed cake mixes introduced

1962 -- Pull-tab can opener patented

1965 -- Tang, developed for astronauts, commercially introduced

1967 -- Compact microwave ovens for home use introduced

1972 -- Frozen yogurt introduced

1974 -- First supermarket scanners used

1975 -- American consumption of soft drinks surpasses coffee

1996 -- Olestra approved by FDA. Mad cow disease outbreak in Europe.

1997 -- Food irradiation of meat approved by FDA

1998 -- Potato sprouts carried aloft on the space shuttle Columbia produce the first food grown in outer space. Genetic engineered ingredients appear in commercial food products.