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Robert Baker, 84, Cornell professor of food science

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Robert C. Baker, a longtime faculty member at Cornell University who changed American cuisine with his poultry innovations, died Monday. He was 84.

''He really -- in more ways than most ever will -- changed things," his son Dale of Lansing, N.Y., told The Ithaca Journal on Tuesday. ''He changed the way we eat."

A professor of food science and poultry science, Dr. Baker created dozens of products including ground poultry, chicken nuggets, turkey ham, and poultry hot dogs.

''When the nuggets came out in the 1950s, they weren't too popular," Dr. Baker told the newspaper in 2004.

But his innovations quickly caught on, particularly his chicken barbecue recipe that was a Cornell icon. Dr. Baker always had a stand at the New York State Fair, and the university said President Clinton and his family asked for his chicken barbecue during their visit in 1999.

Dr. Baker grew up in Newark and worked on his father's farm in nearby Sodus. He earned a bachelor's degree from Cornell's College of Agriculture in 1943, then joined the faculty in 1949. Mr. Baker earned a master's degree from Penn State University and a doctorate from Purdue University.

Dr. Baker founded Cornell's Institute of Food Science and Marketing in 1970. He retired in 1989.

He owned an orchard near Ithaca with his wife, Jacoba.

In addition to his son and his wife, Dr. Baker leaves another son, Kermit of Boston; four daughters, Regina Robbins of Knoxville, Reenie Sandsted and Johanna, both of Lansing, and Karen Applebee of Towanda, Pa.; 12 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Lansing Middle School Auditorium, preceded by a chicken barbecue at Lansing Methodist Church.

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