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"There's a poetry in the materials we use to construct our world of artifacts; it speaks of our long history as a technological species."
- William Gibson

Compact Food Pastilles  
  One small tablet is a month's worth of food.  

As far as I know, this is the first instance of the concept of the "food tablet", which later became an sf standard.

He took from his waistcoat pocket the small gold box, scarcely larger than a watch, and opened the cover. In the palm of her white hand he placed one of the little pastilles.

"Eat it," said he. "It will satisfy your hunger."

She put the morsel into her mouth. "I would do as you bade me," she said, "even if it were poison."

"It is not poison," he rejoined. "It is nourishment in the only rational form."

"But it is tasteless; almost without substance."

"Yet it will support life for from eighteen to twenty-five days. This little gold box holds food enough to afford all subsistence to the entire Seventy-sixth Congress for a month."

She took the box and curiously examined its contents.

"And how long would it support my life- for more than a year, perhaps?"

"Yes, for more than ten- more than twenty years."

"I will not bore you with chemical and physiological facts," continued Wanlee, "but you must know that the food which we take, in whatever form, resolves itself into what are called proximate principles- starch, sugar, oleine, flurin, albumen, and so on. These are selected and assimilated by the organs of the body, and go to build up the necessary tissues. But all these proximate principles, in their turn, are simply combinations of the ultimate chemical elements, chiefly carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen. It is upon these elements that we depend for sustenance. By the old plan we obtained them indirectly. They passed from the earth and the air into the grass; from the grass into the muscular tissues of the ox; and from the beef into our own persons, loaded down and encumbered by a mass of useless, irrelevant matter. The German chemists have discovered how to supply the needed elements in compact, undiluted form- here they are in this little box. Now shall mankind go direct to the fountainhead of nature for his aliment; now shall the old roundabout, cumbrous, inhuman method be at an end; now shall the evils of gluttony and the attendant vices cease; now shall the brutal murdering of fellow animals and brother vegetables forever stop- now shall all this be, since the new, holy cause has been consecrated by the lips I love!"

From The Senator's Daughter, by Edward Page Mitchell.
Published by Not known in 1879
Additional resources -

This is a very early reference to this sfnal idea. Food Pills are mentioned in The Patchwork Girl of Oz, a 1913 Oz novel by L. Frank Baum. The Jetson family would sometimes eat convenient pills for dinner in the 1960's first showing of that cartoon series. Compare to the wine pellets from Redmask of the Outlands (1934) by Nat Schachner.

For more modern examples that are more like real food, see synthetic food from Unto us a Child is Born (1933) by David H. Keller, syntho-steak from Farmer in the Sky (1950) by Robert Heinlein, vat meat from The End of the Line (1951) by James Schmitz, Chicken Little from The Space Merchants (1952) by Frederik Pohl and CM Kornbluth, animal tissue culture vat from Uller Uprising (1952) by H. Beam Piper, carniculture plants (factories) from Four-Day Planet (1961) by H. Beam Piper, butcher plant from Time is the Simplest Thing (1961) by Clifford Simak.

Compare to the chemically produced food from Mizora: A Prophecy (1881) by Mary E. Bradley Lane.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Senator's Daughter
  More Ideas and Technology by Edward Page Mitchell
  Tech news articles related to The Senator's Daughter
  Tech news articles related to works by Edward Page Mitchell

Compact Food Pastilles-related news articles:
  - Never Eat Food Again - Just Soylent
  - AeroLife Inhalable Food Powder

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