How the bouillon cube conquered the world – and what the consequences were

They are usually on the spice shelf, somewhere between salt and nutmeg: small, ocher-yellow cubes, wrapped in gold-colored aluminum foil. One cube alone makes five deciliters of broth. Efficient. But efficiency comes at a price, but more on that later.

It all started with a medical challenge. “For centuries, the British and French navies have been looking for a product to combat scurvy, a disease caused by malnutrition. Research has been done to develop infusions that resemble vegetable soup. The pharmacies on board the ships equipped themselves with it to feed the sick,” says Pierre-Antoine Dessaux, lecturer in history and culture of nutrition at the French University of Tours.