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American Food, Cooking, and Nutrition, 1900–1945

Summary and Keywords

The first half of the 20th century saw extraordinary changes in the ways Americans produced, procured, cooked, and ate food. Exploding food production easily outstripped population growth in this era as intensive plant and animal breeding, the booming use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and technological advances in farm equipment all resulted in dramatically greater yields on American farms. At the same time, a rapidly growing transportation network of refrigerated ships, railroads, and trucks hugely expanded the reach of different food crops and increased the variety of foods consumers across the country could buy, even as food imports from other countries soared. Meanwhile, new technologies, such as mechanical refrigeration, reliable industrial canning, and, by the end of the era, frozen foods, subtly encouraged Americans to eat less locally and seasonally than ever before. Yet as American food became more abundant and more affordable, diminishing want and suffering, it also contributed to new problems, especially rising body weights and mounting rates of cardiac disease.

American taste preferences themselves changed throughout the era as more people came to expect stronger flavors, grew accustomed to the taste of industrially processed foods, and sampled so-called “foreign” foods, which played an enormous role in defining 20th-century American cuisine. Food marketing exploded, and food companies invested ever greater sums in print and radio advertising and eye-catching packaging. At home, a range of appliances made cooking easier, and modern grocery stores and increasing car ownership made it possible for Americans to food shop less frequently. Home economics provided Americans, especially girls and women, with newly scientific and managerial approaches to cooking and home management, and Americans as a whole increasingly approached food through the lens of science. Virtually all areas related to food saw fundamental shifts in the first half of the 20th century, from agriculture to industrial processing, from nutrition science to weight-loss culture, from marketing to transportation, and from kitchen technology to cuisine. Not everything about food changed in this era, but the rapid pace of change probably exaggerated the transformations for the many Americans who experienced them.

Keywords: cooking, food distribution, foreign food, pure food reform, nutrition, weight-loss culture, kitchen technology, food industry, home economics, marketing

Fundamental Shifts

The first half of the 20th century saw extraordinary changes in the ways Americans produced, procured, cooked, and ate food. Virtually all areas related to food saw fundamental shifts, from agriculture to industrial processing, from nutrition science to weight-loss culture, from marketing to transportation, and from kitchen technology to cuisine. Not everything about food changed in this era, but it must have sometimes felt like that to the people living through it.

The US population doubled in this era, growing from about 76 million people in 1900 to more than 150 million by the mid-1940s. But the population boom did not spark the Malthusian crisis previous generations had feared. Quite the contrary, in fact, because exploding food production easily outstripped population growth. Agricultural advances, including plant and animal breeding, the intensifying use of fertilizers and pesticides, and technological advances in farm equipment, were all producing dramatically greater yields on American farms.1

As American food became more abundant, it also became more affordable. Rising food prices sometimes sparked anger and occasionally protests, but average incomes in the United States were rising, too, and the overall story of food in the first half of the 20th century was its growing abundance and affordability. Whereas Americans in 1900 had on average spent about 40 percent of their incomes on food (and poor people spent more), by 1945, Americans on average were spending only about 30 percent of their incomes on food, and that figure would fall much further still in the decades that followed.2 Increased agricultural production and a sharp increase in food imports made food more widely abundant than it had ever been. Other factors helped, too.

Transporting Food and Breeding

Food became more widely available between 1900 and 1945 in part because transportation changes made it easier to move food to where the people who needed it were. Railroads and steamships, technologies that had emerged in the early 19th century, were becoming faster and more wide-reaching than ever before. The first transcontinental railroad was completed in the late 1860s, and it meant that crops could be shipped across the country at record speeds. Starting in the 1880s, refrigerated ships and rail cars cooled by ice meant that perishable foods could survive much longer journeys than ever before. By the early 20th century, automobiles further extended the reach of food transportation. The US government began building the Federal Highway System in the 1920s, which would expand dramatically in the following decades. A system of trucking emerged that was specially designed to transport food on US highways.

Most dramatically for consumers, changes in transportation altered the availability of fresh produce. New transportation methods did not eliminate seasonality in the first half of the 20th century, but time and space became weaker barriers than ever for Americans’ food choices. Because of shipping and trucking, fruits and vegetables that had previously been available on a strictly seasonal basis started appearing in northern cities and larger towns even in the winter months. Iceberg lettuce grown on the West Coast could make the voyage to New York by refrigerated rail, just as New York oysters could be rushed westward.3 Fish caught in the Atlantic could be shipped to the Midwest and beyond. Oranges from Florida and California crisscrossed on the way to Arizona, Michigan, Maine, Arkansas, and places in between.4

Transportation, in turn, changed what crops were grown and, indeed, what crops came into existence at all. With an eye on the national market, farmers were asking new questions. Could a crop survive a voyage of hundreds or even thousands of miles? Was the skin of a particular fruit or vegetable variety tough enough to withstand the jostling of a railroad car across multiple states? Would the flesh bruise when it was boxed? Desired traits increasingly came down to hardiness and transportability; taste was, at best, a tertiary concern. In response to the new demands, plant breeders created new varieties of produce. Luther Burbank, the most famous plant breeder of the era, was widely hailed as an inventor on par with Thomas Edison for his creation of more than eight hundred new plant varieties, which helped make California the agricultural center of the United States. His creations included crops that would come to dominate the American food system, such as the Russet Burbank potato, which later became the basis of fast-food French fries, and the Santa Rosa plum, an emblem of hardy transportability.5 The success of these new superstar breeds was repeated throughout the 20th century, and single varieties came to dominate farming in entire states and even regions, making food more affordable and widely available but, at the same time, making American farmers increasingly dependent on monocultures.

Even as American plant breeders were supplying new produce varieties, fruits, vegetables, and grains from foreign nations also increasingly appeared. Americans had been eating imported foods for centuries; even in the colonial era, Americans had eagerly bought global products such as tea, coffee, vanilla, and pepper. But food importation exploded in the early 20th century. In 1900, Americans were already importing more than $226 million worth of food; by 1920, they were importing more than $1.8 billion worth of food.6 That figure only continued to rise. Tropical fruits that had been exotic rarities for most Americans in the 19th century became items of everyday consumption for many, especially such fruits as the pineapples and bananas that were imported by Standard Fruit, United Fruit (later Chiquita), and Dole, large corporations with famously exploitative labor practices and an outsized influence on US policy in the nations in which they operated.7

Thanks to the growing strength and reach of national and international transportation networks, as well as factors such as a growing national cookbook market, American regional cuisines became steadily less important and less easily defined throughout the first half of the 20th century. In the 1930s, to counteract the declining importance of regional food—indeed, as administrators saw it, to help regional cuisines survive at all—the US government introduced a new program called “America Eats.”8 Part of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration, the America Eats program sent about two hundred writers around the country in the late 1930s and early 1940s to collect recipes and document regional food practices, often encouraging writers to seek out and record food habits in the most rural or isolated of places.9 Yet American food had always changed over time, and even as new products, food trends, and cooking methods challenged stereotypically regional cuisines, American food remained very far from homogenous.

Changes in Taste

American tastes themselves changed throughout the first half of the 20th century. Around 1900, middle-class food reformers were promoting understated blandness as a culinary ideal that, to them, represented subtlety, wholesomeness, and Americanness. Whereas 19th-century Americans had enjoyed a range of acidic and peppery condiments alongside their meats and vegetables, early 20th-century Americans were more apt to describe strong flavors as “foreign” agents that could potentially corrupt both appetites and morals, inducing cravings for ever-stronger fare, and for alcohol. Reformers cautioned against spices, vinegars, and aromatics like onions and celery, and they condemned garlic as a fiery foreign ingredient that was indigestible by white Americans. Indeed, they condemned most condiments altogether, though they had a blind spot when it came to floury white sauces.10

But the fashion for bland food was always less widespread than its proponents hoped, and it proved to be less durable than tastier alternatives. In the 1920s, dishes like spaghetti, chop suey, chow mein, goulash, and chilli con carne were becoming chic, and the fashion for “foreign food” would only expand. In fact, in the decades that followed, interest in international foods seemed less like a trend and more like a broad description of an increasingly polyglot approach to daily eating. Strikingly, some of the very foods that would come to define all-American cuisine in the 20th century, such as pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, chilli, casseroles, and macaroni and cheese, had all seemed like obviously “foreign” dishes to previous generations.11 Indeed, international foods played an enormous role in defining American cuisine in the first half of the 20th century.12 Much of this success was owed to immigrants and the immigrant-owned restaurants and businesses that popularized international cuisines and made their widespread consumption possible. After the passage of restrictive immigration quotas in 1924, immigration to the United States from outside northern Europe slowed to a trickle. But the influence of international cuisines only grew, and cookbooks featuring supposedly “foreign” recipes were legion by the 1930s.

Restaurants were a relatively new phenomenon in American life. In the 19th century, places to eat outside the home had been few and far between; there was little beyond urban lunch wagons, saloons, and street vendors, and a few high-end restaurants catering to the rich. But restaurants started to become a much larger and more broadly accessible part of Americans’ lives. In the 1880s and 1890s, there was a range of mid-priced international restaurants in Americans cities and, increasingly, in smaller towns. In fact, small restaurants owned by immigrants that served self-consciously ethnic food increasingly appeared outside immigrant neighborhoods, allowing a broader clientele to sample different foods.13 Other new kinds of restaurants emerged, too, including diners, tea rooms, cafeterias, family restaurants, and roadside restaurants.

American Food, Cooking, and Nutrition, 1900–1945Click to view larger

Figure 1. Cafeterias were just one kind of public eating establishment that became increasingly common in the first half of the 20th century. Courtesy National Youth Administration collection, c. 1935–1943, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Photographs and Prints Division. New York Public Library Digital Collections, 1260375.

One restaurant, Howard Johnson’s, combined the last two of these with great success. In the 1920s, Howard Deering Johnson opened his first eponymous restaurant, a family-friendly space serving decent food and a variety of ice creams. More importantly, Johnson didn’t stop at one restaurant; instead, he pioneered franchising. In the decades that followed, dozens of Howard Johnson’s restaurants, with their distinctive orange roofs, opened near highways and along roadsides throughout the country. Johnson strove for uniformity, and customers came to expect the same crispy fried clams and twenty-eight flavors of ice cream at every orange-roofed location around the country. The restaurant’s popularity proved how much customers valued cleanliness and predictability, especially when they traveled. Howard Johnson’s franchising became a model for McDonalds and other fast-food restaurants that opened starting in the 1950s.14

Changing Kitchen Technologies

New home-cooking technologies changed how Americans approached food and how much time they spent preparing it. Only a tiny portion of homes were electrified in the 19th century, but electrification happened with remarkable speed after 1900. By the 1920s, the majority of American homes (though hardly all of them) were electrified, and ready access to electric power sparked a boom in purchases of kitchen appliances.15 Electric stoves, toasters, coffee percolators, waffle irons, and refrigerators offered Americans new ways to cook food and to keep it from spoiling. Other appliances, such as dishwashers and blenders, gained widespread popularity starting in the mid-20th century.

Mechanical refrigeration was especially game-changing. Insulated ice boxes had started to appear in some wealthy households in the mid-19th century, using ice that was harvested from frozen winter rivers. Using blocks of ice as the only cooling agent, ice boxes kept food good for days longer than had been possible before. By the turn of the 20th century, mechanical ice production had eliminated the seasonal constraint, making ice boxes more practical, affordable, and desirable. Yet they had flaws. Ice only cooled its immediate surroundings as it melted, and meltwater formed sludgy pools in the bottom of ice boxes or leaked onto kitchen floors. Ice boxes also necessitated regular deliveries from the ice man, and a gap in service—or a heat wave—could endanger food. By the 1910s, the first mechanical home refrigerators appeared on the market, and by the 1920s, growing numbers of American homes contained them. By the 1950s, electric refrigerators were virtually omnipresent in American homes.16

Reliable home refrigeration changed food in this era because American cooks no longer had to make preservation a centerpiece of cooking. Chilling alone forestalled food decay as nothing else had, and preservation techniques that had been commonplace necessities in the 19th century, such jam making, ketchup making, pickling, salting, and smoking, became increasingly rare in the 20th century. In essence, the single technology of refrigeration replaced a whole suite of other food technologies. Americans with refrigerators started to grapple with a new category of food—“leftovers”—because refrigeration allowed them to preserve leftover food from day to day.17

Refrigerators and car ownership also profoundly changed how Americans purchased food. People who owned both automobiles and home refrigerators no longer needed daily visits from the milkman or daily trips to the neighborhood grocer in order to enjoy perishable food. Nor did they need to tend a vegetable garden. Instead, they could make fewer trips to a relatively distant grocery store to buy large quantities of food to transport back home. Just as refrigerator and car ownership took off in the 1920s, the first national grocery chains, notably Kroger, Safeway, and the A&P (the 20th-century incarnation of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company) began opening stores in large numbers in American cities and towns.18 By the 1940s, bigger grocery stores, dubbed “supermarkets,” were beginning to offer a larger-than-ever selection of food items and, beginning in earnest only in the mid-1940s, freezer aisles stocked with frozen foods.

American Food, Cooking, and Nutrition, 1900–1945Click to view larger

Figure 2. Cheese store, 276 Bleecker Street, Manhattan. Stores specializing in a single kind of food, like this New York City cheese shop from 1937, became less common as supermarkets and car ownership expanded. The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs. Photography Collection. New York Public Library Digital Collections, 482774.

Shopping in a big grocery store, as opposed to buying from a local grocer, offered family food shoppers significant convenience, and fewer trips, greater variety, and often lower prices.19 But the grocery store model also had downsides. No longer could Americans readily buy food in bulk, as they had in the 19th and early 20th centuries. And grocery stores also eliminated the face-to-face interaction that had characterized shopping at the corner grocer. It also meant that Americans grew used to eating produce that had been stored in refrigerated spaces for long periods of time, sometimes for weeks or months, which changed its taste and textures.

Scientific Cooking and Pure Food

Interest in kitchen appliances and household efficiency in general was related to home economics, a cultural and academic movement that garnered enormous interest throughout the first half of the 20th century. Reformers since the mid-19th century had been arguing for a more rational and scientific approach to housekeeping, and by the early 20th century, a formal movement called home economics was coalescing, receiving support from land-grant universities and, by the 1910s, the US Department of Agriculture. Home economists at the university level, almost always women, studied chemistry and bacteriology and conducted formal experiments. Their academic imprimaturs gave cooking and housework a new level of prestige, which was useful to middle-class women because they more often performed those tasks themselves in the wake of declining levels of servitude in US homes.20

Home economists brought methods from business and industry into the home, such as motion studies and formal schedules.21 But despite the scientific bent of home economics at the university level, most home economists did not focus on hard science, and most Americans girls, at whom the programs were aimed, encountered the discipline in secondary and even elementary schools, where the focus stayed mainly on practical cooking and sewing skills. As a movement, however, home economics was extremely influential, despite the criticisms raised by both men and women scholars.22 The presence of home economics departments in universities around the country also helped pull generations of women into higher education. And through their classes and textbooks, as well as through government publications and articles in popular magazines, home economists disseminated important information about nutrition, germ theory, food safety, and modern cooking practices that changed how Americans approached shopping, cooking, and health.23

Home economics also helped make cooking more precise. Reformers insisted that cooks use modern recipes instead of relying on memory or caprice, and they advocated for recipes that were methodical in form and specific in content. In truth, there was a lot of room for improvement in this area. For centuries, recipes had been impressionistic paragraphs that assumed that cooks had large amounts of knowledge and rarely indicated anything resembling specific ingredient quantities, temperatures, or cooking times. The recipe genre had slowly evolved throughout the 19th century, and as clocks and standardized measuring implements became more common, recipe accuracy became more possible to pull off. The publication of Fannie Farmer’s 1896 Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, which became the bestselling cookbook of the early 20th century, was a watershed moment. American cooks adored Farmer’s recipes for their whimsy and relative decadence, but they also cherished them for their unprecedented reliability. Instead of launching straight into instructions, as most 19th-century recipe authors had done, Farmer started her recipes with an ultra-precise ingredient list, and instead of calling for changeable measuring implements like wineglasses and tumblers, she insisted on standard measuring spoons and cups. Most famously of all, she insisted that all measurements be level instead of rounded, a notion that became an increasingly accepted part of American cookery and resulted in home cooks around the country cooking with more consistent ingredient amounts.24 By the 1940s, tools like kitchen timers and home ovens with temperature settings would make possible a level of precision and replicability that cooks in earlier centuries could only have dreamed about.

Home economics was also interwoven with the fight for pure food reform in the early 20th century, which saw dramatic changes in government oversight of food safety. In the 19th century, there had been virtually no food safety laws, and Americans had rightly feared food processed in distant factories. Adulterants were legion, and foods on 19th-century grocery shelves were not infrequently stretched with chalk, lead, sawdust, or other substances. By the turn of the 20th century, support was gathering for stringent government oversight of the US food supply.

American Food, Cooking, and Nutrition, 1900–1945Click to view larger

Figure 3. Before and after pure food reform, a variety of food purveyors in the early 20th century, from restaurants to food stands to canned food companies, made marketing claims that attempted to capitalize on the interest in pure food. “Hazel’s Pure Food Luncheon, Siegel Cooper Co., 6th Avenue and 18th Street.” Restaurant Menu, c. 1900. Buttolph Menu Collection, Rare Book Division, New York Public Library Digital Collections, 475922.

The pure-food fight was led most visibly by Harvey Wiley, head chemist at the US Department of Agriculture and one of the country’s best-known food reformers. In 1902, Wiley led the “Poison Squad,” a crew of human volunteers who intentionally consumed food laced with large amounts of industrial adulterants and synthetic chemicals. The sickening of some of the young men added to public distrust of unfettered adulteration. Then, in 1905, even as Wiley was at work drafting government legislation, public opinion on the matter was further jolted by the publication, in serial form, of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, a novel about a hard-working immigrant named Jurgis Rudkus who endures abuses and exploitation as he works in the Chicago slaughterhouses. Famously, Sinclair had intended The Jungle to be a muckraking tale about the failures of capitalism, but American readers interpreted it first and foremost as a horrifying exposé of the unsanitary processes used in industrial meatpacking. Widespread revulsion among Sinclair’s readers led to national reform efforts, and the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed in 1906. Yet struggles over other food issues continued even after the passage of this major national food legislation, and organizations such as the National Housewives’ League and the National Consumers League continued to fight for more transparency and lower prices.25

Early on, the ideals of home economics were interwoven with the concerns of the powerful temperance movement. Launched in the first half of the 19th century in response to colossal levels of drinking and alcohol abuse, temperance became a national movement spearheaded by women. By the late 1910s its supporters had managed the extraordinary feat of getting a constitutional amendment passed that outlawed the manufacture of intoxicating liquors.26 The Eighteenth Amendment took effect in 1920 and launched an unprecedented thirteen-year experiment in the United States known as Prohibition. Although national drinking diminished during Prohibition, it hardly stopped. In fact, Prohibition quickly came to be seen as a failure because large numbers of Americans in continued to drink alcohol, and organized crime rackets profited handsomely by supplying it. After 1933, when alcohol production once again became legal under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, national thinking on alcohol abuse increasingly focused on individuals. It was just two years after Prohibition was repealed that two men founded Alcoholics Anonymous, a nonprofit organization devoted to providing support for recovering alcoholics. Designed so that anyone could start a chapter, Alcoholic Anonymous become by far the largest and best-known organization of its kind, with a message increasingly premised on the idea that the only antidote to alcoholism was total abstinence.27

The Nutrition Revolution and Weight-Loss Culture

Americans in the early 20th century lived through a veritable revolution in nutrition science, and the pillars of the revolution were calories and vitamins. The calorie was an arbitrary unit of measure that had been applied to other sources of energy for decades, but its application to food energy—by the scientist Wilbur O. Atwater in the 1890s—had enormous reverberations. For the first time, calories offered people a way to measure food energy with relative precision, and that basic premise led to all sorts of other shifts. Measuring calories showed that different foods provided different amounts of energy, something people in the past had not necessarily known. It likewise made it possible to calculate how much energy individuals consumed, how much energy different national populations consumed on average, and how much money people were spending per calorie. Economic calculations were especially important early in the 20th century; it was a short jump from asking how many calories people were already obtaining per dollar to calculating the smallest amount of money people could live on. A common message from food reformers throughout this period was that poor people spent too much money on food because they bought the wrong kinds of food. Some reformers were motivated by more or less altruistic attempts to help the poor eat more and better, but others approached calorie charts with the explicit aim of shrinking the grocery budgets of poor people so that their employers could pay them less.

Vitamins, identified around 1900 and broadly popularized by 1920, also profoundly affected American thinking on food. Vitamins complicated calories’ blunt message by demonstrating that it mattered what you ate, not just that you were full. Most fundamentally in this era, vitamins showed that fruits and vegetables were important to health, which profoundly affected food marketing, food spending, and public health. They also pointed to clear methods for combating vitamin-deficiency diseases like pellagra and rickets that had long plagued poor Americans, especially in rural areas.

Together, knowledge of calories and of vitamins provided a more physical way of understanding food and encouraged the notion that digestion was a mechanical process that operated something like a car’s engine. Information about nutrition was disseminated through home economics curricula at all educational levels, in magazines and newspapers, and through a variety of government publications, especially those related to extension efforts. In the 1920s, the US Department of Agriculture created a radio program called “Aunt Sammy’s Radio Recipes” to disseminate new information about nutrition and cooking to a broad public audience. Throughout this era, government nutrition guidelines incorporated changing thinking about nutrition.28

The early 20th-century American nutrition revolution encouraged the notion of a rational relationship to food—that people should prioritize nutritional content, affordability, and long-term health goals when selecting food over such intangibles as pleasure, culture, and tradition.29 Food reformers emphasized that people should approach food numerically, meaning that they could and should apply units like calories, grams, pounds, and sizes to their food and their bodies.30 By the late 1910s, a weight-loss culture was emerging that would come to dominate Western definitions of beauty. Its focus on calories and weight owed much to the quantification-minded thrust of both nutrition science and home economics.

Numbers played a growing role in daily life in part because new tools made it possible to quantify things numerically. This was especially so when it came to calories. At first, calorie content had seemed like a wholly positive attribute—the more food energy available per dollar the better. But calories took on negative connotations in the first half of the 20th century. By the 1920s, as the boyish, flat-chested flapper roared into popularity as the epitome of youthful beauty, and Americans in general exalted slenderness as the bodily ideal, people began to perceive excess weight as a failure of discipline and, to some degree, of character as well. Eating fewer calories seemed like a clear-cut way to reduce body weight and increase beauty and happiness. But for many people a numeric focus on calorie counting and body weight proved to be an unsustainable approach to food, hunger, satisfaction, and pleasure. Not everyone subscribed to mainstream beauty ideals. Immigrants, African Americans, and poor people were less likely to prostrate themselves on the altar of slenderness. Yet the power of the thin ideal proved remarkably resilient throughout the 20th century, even as average American body weights increased over time.

Besides thinking about calories, people thought more than ever about body weight itself. For most of human history, people had no precise sense of how much they weighed. But in the 1920s, home scales made weight legible as it had never been before, and weight was a number that seemed increasingly to have moral as well as aesthetic value.31 Statistics, a new science in this era, also made it possible to calculate “average” weights for the first time, and people came to associate “average” with “normal” and “normal” with “good.”32 By the 1920s, statistics revealed a relationship between excess weight, chronic disease, and early death.33 At the same time, fewer Americans were sewing their own clothes and instead were buying ready-made clothing in stores or through mail-order venues like the Sears Roebuck catalog.34 Standard clothing sizes contributed to the idea that bodies rightly had numbers associated with them, and that some numbers were better than others.

A major reason Americans were more interested in losing weight was that they weighed more than ever. Weight-loss diets had been uncommon in the 19th century, even after the publication of William Banting’s 1863 Letter on Corpulence, and men undertook most of the dieting that did go on.35 More Americans struggled to obtain calories than to shed pounds throughout most of the 19th century, and just about everybody saw skinniness—associated with illness and poverty—as unattractive. That changed in the 20th century. Food was more abundant and affordable than ever before, and by the mid-20th century, most—though hardly all—Americans could usually obtain enough of it. Indeed, a great many people could afford much more than just enough. On average, 20th-century Americans ate significantly more than their 19th-century forbears.

But just as people were eating more, they were becoming more sedentary. Fewer Americans than ever were farmers; in fact, the 1920 US Census revealed that for the first time more Americans were living off farms than living on them. Instead, Americans were more likely to live in towns and suburbs and cities, and they were more often working in offices and stores and schools instead of doing strenuous physical labor. To get where they needed to go, they were also increasingly driving automobiles or taking streetcars or buses instead of walking. A growing interest in athleticism throughout the early 20th century—marked by the rising popularity of activities like tennis, bicycling, and weight-lifting—was not enough to offset Americans’ new sedentary habits and the larger portions on their plates. Average body weights rose steadily.36

The Growing Food Industry

Industrial technologies were also changing how Americans ate and cooked. One of the most important developments was reliable industrial canning. First developed in the early 19th century, industrial canning finally became widely and safely available in the early 20th century thanks to improved industrial processes, the elimination of lead in cans, and widespread understanding of the imperative of pasteurization. Canneries, often located near points of harvest for berries, shrimp, corn, or any number of foods, were often staffed by women and children in the early 20th century.37

American Food, Cooking, and Nutrition, 1900–1945Click to view larger

Figure 4. Canning clubs like this one taught girls and women how to can foods at home and encouraged the preservation of garden produce. “A Canning Club at Work,” photograph, c. 1918. Pageant of America collection. The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs. Photography Collection. New York Public Library Digital Collections, 92242.

Together, canned foods, new frozen foods, and the expanding food-transportation system moved Americans further away than ever from a reliance on local and seasonal eating. Americans canned produce at home, especially as state extension programs began promoting canning clubs for women and girls, and by the 1930s and 1940s, canned foods from both factories and home kitchens would be an utterly ordinary part of Americans diets. The purchase of frozen food, a technology launched by Clarence Birdseye in the 1920s, was constrained by the fact that few people actually owned home freezers before World War II, but it proliferated as freezer ownership expanded rapidly after the war and especially in the 1950s.

American Food, Cooking, and Nutrition, 1900–1945Click to view larger

Figure 5. This five-year-old boy, the child of immigrants, worked in a Mississippi cannery where shrimp and oysters were processed, canned, and then shipped to distant markets.

Photograph by Lewis Hine, Biloxi, Mississippi, February 1911. Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-DIG-nclc-00828.

Americans increasingly ate other industrially produced convenience foods between 1900 and 1945. Boxed breakfast cereals had been appearing on grocers’ shelves since the late 19th century, and in the first half of the 20th century, cold, processed cereals eaten with milk became a major part of American breakfasts.38 Meanwhile, pre-sliced, factory-made white bread—epitomized by Wonder Bread, launched in 1921—would for decades be the main kind of bread Americans ate.39 When Americans did bake at home, it was increasingly from a mix. Quick-bread, muffin, and biscuit mixes, from brands such as Jiffy and Bisquick, along with the first cake mix, from the company P. Duff & Sons, were introduced in the 1930s. These mixes became extremely popular, though they did not entirely displace scratch baking.40 By the World War II era Americans increasingly ate whole meals composed of processed or partially pre-made foods, such as Kraft’s boxed macaroni and cheese dinners, introduced in 1937. Processed cheese, margarine, Jell-O, and hundreds of other processed foods all became fixtures of American diets in this era.

Farming itself became industrialized in the early 20th century. A smaller and smaller percentage of Americans farmed throughout this period, and though family farming had remained an important part of American agriculture before 1945, farm ownership was already consolidating. Individual farms grew bigger and more oriented toward an industrial model of production.41 Even in what seemed at first glance to be the most rural of places, such as Wisconsin dairy farms, farmers turned toward industrial technologies to minimize uncertainty and maximize yields.42 At the same time, industrial meat production was also being transformed, again thanks in large part to refrigeration. No longer were animals driven to small butchers located in thousands of counties across the country. Instead, refrigerated rail transport meant that cows and pigs and sheep could be butchered in enormous centralized slaughterhouses and then transported all over the country as cuts of meat. A few enormous packinghouses came to dominate the national market, especially Chicago’s Swift & Company and Armour & Company, which used assembly-line techniques to kill, butcher, and pack animals at a previously unimaginable speed and scale.43 Using national distribution networks, the big slaughterhouses could undersell smaller regional butchers. Meat became more broadly affordable during this era, and Americans ate it more frequently than ever. As Americans consumed more food in general and more saturated fats in particular, rates of cardiac disease rose. By the 1920s, heart disease had become the leading killer of Americans (in part because epidemic disease rates were falling at the same time), and the American Heart Association was founded in 1924.

Americans were also eating fewer whole grains. It was commonly believed during the era that refined flours were nutritionally superior to coarser grains, and industrial processors found a ready market for white flour, white bread, white rice, and, increasingly, white pasta. When processors removed the germ and bran from grains to make them smoother and more palatable, they stripped out nutritional content. To compensate for this nutrient loss and to give their products a marketing edge, some companies started fortifying their products with vitamins or other micronutrients. Salt was the first fortified food, chosen as a vehicle for iodine because of its omnipresence in American diets. The fortification of salt drastically reduced the incidence of goiter among Americans.44 By the late 1930s, the American Medical Association began formally supporting the practice of enriching foods with vitamins in certain circumstances, and a range of products, including sandwich bread, flour, boxed breakfast cereal, and more, would be fortified with the addition of synthetic vitamins and minerals.

The first half of the 20th century also witnessed an explosion of food marketing, as spending on advertising expanded exponentially.45 All American companies were advertising more, but food companies spent more than any other industry.46 Ads of increasing graphic sophistication appeared in newspapers and magazines and on billboards and storefronts around the country, and by the 1920s, many food companies were using the radio to communicate with potential customers, too. Some companies pioneered other techniques, such as giving away free recipe booklets or paper calendars stamped with their brand name, or creating fictional personas like Betty Crocker to give consumers a sense that they had a relationship with a specific brand.47 Food packaging itself was a novel form of marketing. In the 19th century, most Americans had bought foods in bulk from a grocer or general store, but in the first half of the 20th century the expansion of modern grocery stores and the growth of central processing facilities made colorful food packages prominently featuring brand names the norm. Brand-name recognition, which had started in the 19th century with brands like Heinz, VanCamp, Quaker Oats, Arm & Hammer, and Campbell’s, exploded in the 20th century. By the 1940s, many of the biggest American food companies were already thriving, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Post, Hershey’s, Pillsbury, Folgers, Jell-O, Borden, Kellogg, Kraft, Libby’s, Sunkist, Del Monte, Birds Eye, Carnation, General Foods, Nabisco, and many more. Big food companies came to have significant political clout and they supported government health standards that would steer consumers toward their products.

Discussion of the Literature

The history of food is a rapidly growing field that has generated a great deal of energy in and out of the academy. It is an unusually interdisciplinary field, and important contributions have come not just from historians but also from anthropologists, such as Sidney Mintz; sociologists, such as Krishendu Ray, and geographers, such as Susanne Friedberg. There are also a number of people writing good histories of food who are not academics, including journalists and independent scholars such as Laura Shapiro, Raymond Sokolov, Adrian Miller, and Bee Wilson.

The first half of the 20th century has attracted much attention simply because so much about American food was changing in this time period, and a number of excellent histories have been published in previous decades. Some of the best overviews of food in this period of American history are two books by Harvey Levenstein: Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet, which goes up to the 1930s, and Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America, which picks up in the 1930s and goes through the end of the 20th century.48 Other good recent overviews of American food history include Jennifer Wallach’s How America Eats: A Social History of U.S. Food and Culture and Megan Elias’s Food in the United States, 1890–1945.49

Gendered analyses of food have been particularly rich, because people have thought about farming, hunting, grocery shopping, cooking, and eating in deeply gendered ways. Studies of consumerism, home economics, cooking, race, immigration, servitude, weight loss, and war, among other topics, have had gender as a major thread. Some exceptional food histories incorporating gender include Tracey Deutsch’s Building a Housewife’s Paradise: Gender, Politics, and American Grocery Stores in the Twentieth Century; Amy Bentley’s Eating for Victory: Food Rationing and the Politics of Domesticity; Kristin Hoganson’s Consumers’ Imperium: The Global Production of American Domesticity, 1865–1920; Psyche Williams-Forson’s Building Houses out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food and Power; Rebecca Sharpless’s Cooking in Other Women’s Kitchens: Domestic Workers in the South, 1865–1960; and Katharina Vester’s A Taste of Power: Food and American Identities.50

The relationship between food and race has also become an arena of robust scholarship. Some particularly important studies of food and African American history, in particular, include Adrian Miller’s Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine One Plate at a Time; Micki McElya’s Clinging to Mammy: The Faithful Slave in Twentieth-Century America; Psyche Williams-Forson’s Building Houses out of Chicken Legs; Jessica B. Harris’s High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America; Toni Tipton-Martin’s The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks; and Dethroning the Deceitful Pork Chop: Rethinking African American Foodways from Slavery to Obama, edited by Jennifer Wallach.51

Other scholars have explored the relationship between race, ethnicity, the foods of immigrants, and conceptions of “foreign foods,” such as Yong Chen’s Chop Suey USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America; Anne Mendelson’s Chow Chop Suey: Food and the Chinese American Journey; Hasia Diner’s Hungering for America: Italian, Irish and Jewish Foodways in the Age of Migration; Donna Gabaccia’s We Are What We Eat: Ethnic Food and the Making of Americans Foods; and Jeffrey Pilcher’s Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food.52 Andrew Haley’s Turning the Tables: Restaurants and the Rise of the American Middle Class, 1880–1920 looks at the birth of modern American restaurant culture and the role immigrant restauranteurs and “foreign” foods themselves played in that process.53 In the same era, Katherine Leonard Turner examines the food practices of poor Americans, who disproportionately included recent immigrants in their ranks, in her How the Other Half Ate: A History of Working-Class Meals at the Turn of the Century.54

Changing regional cuisines—and attempts to define and preserve them—have also garnered attention, and southern food has received more scholarly attention than the food of any other region.55 A number of standout books have appeared on southern food in the last few years, including Marcie Cohen Ferris’s The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region; Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt’s A Mess of Greens: Southern Gender and Southern Food; John T. Edge’s Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South; and Angela Jill Cooley’s To Live and Dine in Dixie: The Evolution of Urban Food Culture in the Jim Crow South.56 Camille Bégin’s book, Taste of the Nation: The New Deal Search for America’s Food, explores government-sponsored attempts to define, document, and preserve American regional cuisines in the 1930s.57

One especially rich area for scholars of food in the first half of the 20th century is the era’s fixation on scientific cookery, nutrition, and health. Charlotte Biltekoff’s Eating Right in America: The Cultural Politics of Food and Health; Megan Elias’s Stir It Up: Home Economics in American Culture; Helen Zoe Veit’s Modern Food, Moral Food: Self-Control, Science, and the Rise of Modern American Eating in the Early Twentieth Century; and Laura Shapiro’s Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century explore the intertwined efforts to make cooking more rational, understand the workings of human nutrition and digestion, and inculcate a scientific approach to eating and associated regimes of hygiene and efficiency in others.58

Efficiency and science are also themes in a number of good books about changing technologies and related cultural practices around food, including Susanne Freidberg’s Fresh: A Perishable History and Jonathan Rees’s Refrigeration Nation: A History of Ice, Appliances, and Enterprise in America.59 In a similar way, a number of excellent books on farming, distribution, and trade explore American food from an environmental-history angle, including Deborah Fitzgerald’s Every Farm a Factory: The Industrial Ideal in American Agriculture; Kendra Smith-Howard’s Pure and Modern Milk: An Environmental History since 1900; and John Soluri’s Banana Cultures: Agriculture, Consumption, and Environmental Change in Honduras and the United States.60

Primary Sources

Old cookbooks are probably the most obvious source for historians of food, and they can yield valuable information far beyond their recipe content. Scholars use the front matter, introductions, illustrations, captions, explanatory text, organizational schema, and even marginalia when they work with cookbooks, besides considering the kinds of information that authors left out of cookbooks.61 Some of the most important collections of historical cookbooks and culinary ephemera are held at the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University, the University of Michigan, and Michigan State University. But scholars of food history hardly limit themselves to cookbooks, and they have become adept at using a variety of sources to think about food. Institutional archives can be treasure troves for food scholars, especially the social-welfare records from hospitals, sanitariums, schools, prisons, and asylums. Collections related to health, nursing, and the history of medicine often contain food-related material, too. Records from university home economics departments, particularly long-standing departments at land-grant universities, often have rich documents about cooking and nutrition science. The National Archives and Records Administration, whose main branch is in College Park, Maryland, contains a number of government collections with bearing on the history of food, including records of the United States Food Administration (a temporary World War I agency), records of the Food and Drug Administration, and the Records of the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture. The National Agriculture Library, in Beltsville, Maryland, contains more records from the US Department of Agriculture. The Library of Congress, likewise, contains a number of collections from government agencies and individuals including government administrators, anthropologists, reformers, and others who deal with food. Meanwhile, private collections house large amounts of material related to food. Archives of food companies can contain rich information about marketing, corporate culture, and food processing, although access to these collections is often limited. The Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware, is one of the country’s best repositories for business-related historical materials, some of which are food-related. There are also a number of online resources for historians of food, including the digitized newspapers to be found through Proquest Historical Newspapers, digitized cookbooks from HathiTrust and other digital book repositories, and a variety of materials on Archive.org.

Ad*Access. A digital repository of over seven thousand American and Canadian advertisements, some of which relate to food. Hosted by Duke University.

Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project. Online archive of some of the most significant cookbooks in US history. Hosted by Michigan State University.

HathiTrust Digital Library. An online repository containing over fifteen million digitized books, including thousands of cookbooks. Hosted by a consortium of research universities.

Home Economics Archive: Research, Tradition and History (HEARTH). Online archive of materials related to the history of Home Economics, including many food-related items. Hosted by Cornell University.

Little Cookbooks: The Shirley and Alan Brocker Sliker Culinary Collection. Online archive of thousands of culinary ephemera items from the mid-19th century to the present. Hosted by Michigan State University.

What America Ate: Preserving America’s Culinary History from the Great Depression. Online archive and interactive website on food in the 1930s. Hosted by Michigan State University.

What’s on the Menu?. An online repository containing more than seventeen thousand digitized menus with crowd-sourced transcriptions. Hosted by the New York Public Library.

Further Reading

Bégin, Camille. Taste of the Nation: The New Deal Search for America’s Food. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2016.Find this resource:

    Bentley, Amy. Inventing Baby Food: Taste, Health, and the Industrialization of the American Diet. Oakland: University of California Press, 2014.Find this resource:

      Biltekoff, Charlotte. Eating Right in America: The Cultural Politics of Food and Health. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013.Find this resource:

        Chen, Yong. Chop Suey, USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

          Colley, Angela Jill. To Live and Dine in Dixie: The Evolution of Urban Food Culture in the Jim Crow South. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2015.Find this resource:

            Deutsch, Tracey. Building a Housewife’s Paradise: Gender, Politics, and American Grocery Stores in the Twentieth Century. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.Find this resource:

              Diner, Hasia. Hungering for America: Italian, Irish and Jewish Foodways in the Age of Migration. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002.Find this resource:

                Elias, Megan. “An Appetite for Innovation: Cookbooks before the Second World War.” In Food on the Page: Cookbooks and American Culture. By Megan Elias. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017.Find this resource:

                  Elias, Megan. Stir It Up: Home Economics in American Culture. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008.Find this resource:

                    Engelhardt, Elizabeth S. D. A Mess of Greens: Southern Gender and Southern Food. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2011.Find this resource:

                      Ferris, Marcie Cohen. The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014.Find this resource:

                        Freidberg, Susanne. Fresh: A Perishable History. Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2010.Find this resource:

                          Gabaccia, Donna. We Are What We Eat: Ethnic Food and the Making of Americans. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998.Find this resource:

                            Haley, Andrew. Turning the Tables: Restaurants and the Rise of the American Middle Class, 1880–1920. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011.Find this resource:

                              Harris, Jessica B. High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America. New York: Bloomsbury, 2011.Find this resource:

                                Levenstein, Harvey. Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.Find this resource:

                                  Levenstein, Harvey A. Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.Find this resource:

                                    Rees, Jonathan. Refrigeration Nation: A History of Ice, Appliances, and Enterprise in America. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013.Find this resource:

                                      Schwartz, Hillel. Never Satisfied: A Cultural History of Diets, Fantasies, and Fat. New York: Free Press, 1986.Find this resource:

                                        Shapiro, Laura. Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1986.Find this resource:

                                          Smith-Howard, Kendra. Pure and Modern Milk: An Environmental History since 1900. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

                                            Soluri, John. Banana Cultures: Agriculture, Consumption, and Environmental Change in Honduras and the United States. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005.Find this resource:

                                              Tipton-Martin, Toni. The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015.Find this resource:

                                                Turner, Katherine Leonard. How the Other Half Ate: A History of Working-Class Meals at the Turn of the Century. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014.Find this resource:

                                                  Veit, Helen Zoe. Modern Food, Moral Food: Self-Control, Science, and the Rise of Modern American Eating in the Early Twentieth Century. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013.Find this resource:

                                                    Wallach, Jennifer Jensen, ed. Dethroning the Deceitful Pork Chop: Rethinking African American Foodways from Slavery to Obama. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2015.Find this resource:

                                                      Williams-Forson, Psyche. Building Houses out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food and Power. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006.Find this resource:

                                                        Notes:

                                                        (1.) Deborah Fitzgerald, Every Farm a Factory: The Industrial Ideal in American Agriculture (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003).

                                                        (2.) Katherine Turner, How the Other Half Ate: A History of Working-Class Meals at the Turn of the Century (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014); and “100 Years of U.S. Consumer Spending: Data for the Nation, New York City, and Boston” (report, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington DC, 2006).

                                                        (3.) Gabriella M. Petrick, “‘Like Ribbons of Green and Gold’: Industrializing Lettuce and the Quest for Quality in the Salinas Valley, 1920–1965,” Agricultural History 80.3 (2006): 269–295.

                                                        (4.) Susanne Freidberg, Fresh: A Perishable History (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2010); and Douglas Sackman, Orange Empire: California and the Fruits of Eden (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005).

                                                        (5.) Jane S. Smith, The Garden of Invention: Luther Burbank and the Business of Breeding Plants (New York: Penguin Press, 2009); Sackman, Orange Empire.

                                                        (6.) Kristin Hoganson, “The Imperial Politics of Globavore Consumption in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries,” in David Blanke and David Steigerwald (Ed.), A Destiny of Choice? New Directions in American Consumer History (New York: Lexington, 2013), 15–27.

                                                        (7.) John Soluri, Banana Cultures: Agriculture, Consumption, and Environmental Change in Honduras and the United States (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005).

                                                        (8.) Camille Bégin, Taste of the Nation: The New Deal Search for America’s Food (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2016).

                                                        (10.) Helen Zoe Veit, Modern Food, Moral Food: Self-Control, Science, and the Rise of Modern American Eating in the Early Twentieth Century (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013); and Laura Shapiro, Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1986).

                                                        (11.) Elizabeth Zanoni, “‘Foreign Foods’: Culinary Exchanges during the Depression,” What America Ate project; Veit, Modern Food, Moral Food.

                                                        (12.) Hasia Diner, Hungering for America: Italian, Irish and Jewish Foodways in the Age of Migration (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002); Andrew Haley, Turning the Tables: Restaurants and the Rise of the American Middle Class, 1880–1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011); Jeffrey Pilcher, Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012); and Krishnendu Ray, The Ethnic Restaurateur (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016).

                                                        (13.) Haley, Turning the Tables.

                                                        (14.) Paul Freedman, Ten Restaurants That Changed America (New York: Norton, 2016).

                                                        (15.) David Nye, Electrifying America: Social Meanings of a New Technology, 1880–1940 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990).

                                                        (16.) Jonathan Rees, Refrigeration Nation: A History of Ice, Appliances, and Enterprise in America (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).

                                                        (17.) Helen Zoe Veit, “An Economic History of Leftovers,” The Atlantic, October 2015.

                                                        (18.) Tracey Deutsch, Building a Housewife’s Paradise: Gender, Politics, and American Grocery Stores in the Twentieth Century (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010), 1.

                                                        (19.) Shane Hamilton, “The Economies and Conveniences of Modern-Day Living: Frozen Foods and Mass Marketing, 1945–1965,” Business History Review 77.1 (2003): 33–60, at 40.

                                                        (20.) Veit, Modern Food, Moral Food.

                                                        (21.) Janice Rutherford, Selling Mrs. Consumer: Christine Frederick and the Rise of Household Efficiency (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2003).

                                                        (22.) See Marcie Cohen Ferris, The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014), 114.

                                                        (23.) Megan Elias, Stir It Up: Home Economics in American Culture (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008).

                                                        (24.) Shapiro, Perfection Salad.

                                                        (25.) Helen Zoe Veit, “Food and Marketing,” in Michael D. Wise and Jennifer Jensen Wallach (Eds.), The Routledge History of American Foodways (New York: Routledge, 2016), 383–395; Lawrence B. Glickman, “Born to Shop? Consumer History and American History,” in Lawrence B. Glickman (Ed.), Consumer Society in American History: A Reader (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1999), 5; and Emily LaBarbera-Twarog, Beyond the Strike Kitchen: Housewives and Domestic Politics, 1936–1973 (PhD diss., University of Illinois at Chicago, 2011).

                                                        (26.) Ian Tyrrel, Woman’s World / Woman’s Empire: The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in International Perspective, 1880–1930 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991).

                                                        (27.) See Lori Rotskoff, Love on the Rocks: Men, Women, and Alcohol in Post–World War II America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002).

                                                        (28.) Charlotte Biltekoff, Eating Right in America: The Cultural Politics of Food and Health (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013).

                                                        (29.) Veit, Modern Food, Moral Food; Harvey A. Levenstein, Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988).

                                                        (30.) Veit, Modern Food, Moral Food.

                                                        (31.) Hillel Schwartz, Never Satisfied: A Cultural History of Diets, Fantasies, and Fat (New York: Free Press, 1986).

                                                        (32.) Sarah Igo, The Averaged American: Surveys, Citizens, and the Making of a Mass Public (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007).

                                                        (33.) Helen Zoe Veit, “‘Why Do People Die?’ Rising Life Expectancy, Aging, and Personal Responsibility,” Journal of Social History 45.4 (2012): 1026–1048.

                                                        (34.) Schwartz, Never Satisfied.

                                                        (35.) Katharina Vester, “Regime Change: Gender, Class, and the Invention of Dieting in Post-bellum America,” Journal of Social History 44.1 (2010): 39–70.

                                                        (36.) Schwartz, Never Satisfied.

                                                        (37.) Gabriella M. Petrick, “An Ambivalent Diet: The Industrialization of Canning,” OAH Magazine of History 24.3 (2010): 35–38.

                                                        (38.) Howard Markel, The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek (New York: Pantheon, 2017).

                                                        (39.) Aaron Bobrow-Strain, White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf (Boston: Beacon, 2012).

                                                        (40.) Laura Shapiro, Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950’s America (New York: Viking, 2004).

                                                        (41.) Fitzgerald, Every Farm a Factory.

                                                        (42.) Kendra Smith-Howard, Pure and Modern Milk: An Environmental History since 1900 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).

                                                        (43.) Dominic Pacyga, Slaughterhouse: Chicago’s Union Stock Yard and the World It Made (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015).

                                                        (44.) Howard Markel, “‘When It Rains It Pours’: Endemic Goiter, Iodized Salt, and David Murray Cowie, MD,” American Journal of Public Health 77.2 (1987): 219–229.

                                                        (45.) Roland Marchand, Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity, 1920–1940 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985); Kathy Newman, Radio Active: Advertising and Consumer Activism, 1935–1947 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004); and Glickman, “Born to Shop?,” in Consumer Society in American History, 3.

                                                        (46.) Katherine Parkin, Food Is Love: Food Advertising and Gender Roles in Modern America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006), 2.

                                                        (47.) Shapiro, Something from the Oven, 178, 184–185.

                                                        (48.) Harvey A. Levenstein, Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988); and Levenstein, Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993).

                                                        (49.) Jennifer Wallach, How America Eats: A Social History of U.S. Food and Culture (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2013); Megan Elias, Food in the United States, 1890–1945 (Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2009).

                                                        (50.) Tracey Deutsch, Building a Housewife’s Paradise: Gender, Politics, and American Grocery Stores in the Twentieth Century (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010); Amy Bentley, Eating for Victory: Food Rationing and the Politics of Domesticity (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998); Kristin Hoganson, Consumers’ Imperium: The Global Production of American Domesticity, 1865–1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007); Psyche Williams-Forson, Building Houses out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food and Power (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006); Rebecca Sharpless, Cooking in Other Women’s Kitchens: Domestic Workers in the South, 1865–1960 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010); and Katharina Vester, A Taste of Power: Food and American Identities (Oakland: University of California Press, 2015).

                                                        (51.) Jessica B. Harris, High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America (New York: Bloomsbury, 2011); Toni Tipton-Martin, The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015); Adrian Miller, Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine One Plate at a Time (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013); Sharpless, Cooking in Other Women’s Kitchens; Micki McElya, Clinging to Mammy: The Faithful Slave in Twentieth-Century America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007); Williams-Forson, Building Houses out of Chicken Legs; and Jennifer Jensen Wallach, ed. Rethinking African American Foodways from Slavery to Obama (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2015).

                                                        (52.) Yong Chen, Chop Suey, USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014); Anne Mendelson, Chow Chop Suey: Food and the Chinese American Journey (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016); Hasia Diner, Hungering for America: Italian, Irish and Jewish Foodways in the Age of Migration (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002); Donna Gabaccia, We Are What We Eat: Ethnic Food and the Making of Americans (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998); and Jeffrey Pilcher, Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).

                                                        (53.) Andrew Haley, Turning the Tables: Restaurants and the Rise of the American Middle Class, 1880–1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011).

                                                        (54.) Turner, How the Other Half Ate.

                                                        (55.) Gretchen Hoffman, “What’s the Difference between Soul Food and Southern Cooking? The Classification of Cookbooks in American Libraries,” in Jennifer Jensen Wallach (Ed.), Dethroning the Deceitful Pork Chop (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2015), 61–77.

                                                        (56.) John T. Edge, Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South (New York: Penguin Press, 2017); Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt, A Mess of Greens: Southern Gender and Southern Food (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2011); Ferris, Edible South; and Angela Jill Cooley, To Live and Dine in Dixie: The Evolution of Urban Food Culture in the Jim Crow South (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2015).

                                                        (57.) Bégin, Taste of the Nation.

                                                        (58.) Biltekoff, Eating Right in America; Elias, Stir It Up; Veit, Modern Food, Moral Food; Shapiro, Perfection Salad.

                                                        (59.) Freidberg, Fresh; and Rees, Refrigeration Nation.

                                                        (60.) Fitzgerald, Every Farm a Factory; Smith-Howard, Pure and Modern Milk; and Soluri, Banana Cultures.

                                                        (61.) Megan Elias, “An Appetite for Innovation: Cookbooks before the Second World War,” in Food on the Page: Cookbooks and American Culture (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017), 43–72.