These days, what with the outdoor-recreation industry bigger than ever and disaster preparedness on the radar of more and more people, freeze-dried backpacking and emergency food options seem to be popping up all over the place.
But there’s a reason why Mountain House is still the gold standard. Well, actually there are many reasons, but one fundamental and overarching one is that we’ve been in the business a LONG time. We’re no flash-in-the-pan company jumping on the prepping or outdoors bandwagon: We’ve been around since the 1960s, pioneering a commercial-scale freeze-drying process that we’ve continually honed over all these decades to make sure we’re supplying the very best product we possibly can. Because whether you're in the backcountry or relying on freeze-dried foods for an emergency situation, your food should be dependably delicious.
We thought we’d share a little bit of our history here on the Mountain House blog so that the next time you tuck into a steaming bagful of Macaroni & Cheese, or any other just-add-water delicacy of ours, you can appreciate the legacy that's gone into each bite!
Our parent company, OFD Foods LLC, has been an innovator in the food industry since 1963. Oregon Freeze Dry, as it was originally known, started off freeze-drying fruit for use in breakfast cereals, and chose as its base of operations Albany, Oregon, set in the heart of the fertile Willamette Valley. With such a plenitude of farms and orchards in our backyard, the setting couldn’t have been more appropriate (and all the more so when the company branched out into the outdoor industry, given the world-class spread of recreational opportunities in Western Oregon).
Oregon Freeze Dry’s first production center, a 15,600-square-foot plant, was one of the largest freeze-drying facilities in the world when it opened in 1964. And it wasn’t long before even this impressive installation required expansion. Oregon Freeze Dry first supplied product to the military in 1966 as the Vietnam War was intensifying, and the freeze-dried rations were such a success that by the next year the company was in a multimillion-dollar contract with the U.S. Armed Forces.
The 1960s also saw Oregon Freeze Dry getting involved with NASA’s space program, beginning a long tradition of feeding astronauts and astronauts-in-training.
Close on the heels of Oregon Freeze Dry’s initial military contracts came the business’s entry into the blossoming outdoor-recreation sector. And there’s a direct connection between the two: As with rucksacks, field coats, boots, and sundry military-surplus items, it turned out that the rations enjoyed by troops also had plenty of utility out on mountain trails and river beaches.
In 1969, Oregon Freeze Dry launched the Mountain House brand through a deal with REI to sell military-style freeze-dried meals to backpackers and other outdoorspeople. The rest, you might say, is history.
Much has changed in the world since the early days of Oregon Freeze Dry and the Mountain House brand, but we’re still providing the finest in freeze-dried goodness—and the longest proven shelf life on the market—for a wonderful spectrum of consumers: homeowners prepping for natural disasters and other hiccups in the routine, backpackers and other outdoorspeople looking for quick-to-cook gourmet delights in the wilderness, military service members, and busy working people who don't always have time for a drawn-out, complicated cooking process when they come home hungry, to name a few categories.
Here's a very heartfelt thank-you to the customers who've made us a leader in the industry for all these decades, and here's a toast to a very bright future together!