Black inventor Frederick McKinley Jones was literally known for his chill
Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society
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Way before Big WormMaster P, or Gucci Mane, there was only one Black man known for being So Icy, and his name was Frederick McKinley Jones.

If your fridge has any produce from your local grocery store, you can also thank Jones, who patented the roof-mounted cooling system that’s used to refrigerate goods on trucks during extended transportation.

According to Black Past, Frederick McKinley Jones was born in Covington, Kentucky, near Cincinnati, Ohio.  He served in France during World War I. After returning home to work as a garage mechanic, he later developed a self-starting gasoline motor. His mastery of electronic devices was largely self-taught, through work experience and the inventing process.

Black invention never stops.

In the late 1920s, Jones designed a series of devices for the developing movie industry, which adapted silent movie projectors to use talking movie stock. He also developed an apparatus for the movie box office that delivers tickets and returns change to customers. He also invented a snowmobile, but Frederick Jones focused mainly on refrigeration, and was granted more than 40 patents in that field.

In 1935, he invented the first automatic refrigeration system for long-haul trucks and railroad cars (a roof-mounted cooling device). This particular system eliminated the risk of food spoiling during long-distance shipping trips and was later adapted to a variety of other common carriers, including ships and railway cars. His patent was issued in 1949.

Jones’s pioneering designs for mobile refrigeration units led to the formation of the Thermo-King Corporation and revolutionized the field of transport refrigeration for trucks, railcars, and ships. The company was also vital during World War II, helping the US military to preserve blood, food and supplies during the war in air-conditioning units for field hospitals and a refrigerator for field kitchens.

Additionally, his invention radically altered American consumer’s eating habits; allowing people to now eat fresh produce across the United States during the middle of summer or winter.

Frederick McKinley Jones was one of the most prolific Black inventors ever

In 1944, Jones became the first African American to be elected into the American Society of Refrigeration Engineers.

When he died on February 21, 1961, Frederick McKinley Jones had his name on more than 60 patents. In honor of his achievements as an inventor, he was posthumously awarded the National Medal of Technology. Jones was the first Black inventor to ever receive such an honor.

In these record hot summer months, next time you order an Italian ice, slushy or chilled beverage from a food truck, scoop or pour some out for Frederick McKinley Jones.

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...

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