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American Advertising Cookbooks: How Corporations Taught Us to Love Bananas, Spam, and Jell-O

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American Advertising Cookbooks: How Corporations Taught Us to Love Spam, Bananas, and Jell-O is a deeply researched and entertaining survey of twentieth century American food. Connecting cultural, social, and geopolitical aspects, author Christina Ward (Preservation: The Art & Science of Canning , Fermentation, and Dehydration, Process 2017) uses her expertise to tell American Advertising Cookbooks: How Corporations Taught Us to Love Spam, Bananas, and Jell-O is a deeply researched and entertaining survey of twentieth century American food. Connecting cultural, social, and geopolitical aspects, author Christina Ward (Preservation: The Art & Science of Canning , Fermentation, and Dehydration, Process 2017) uses her expertise to tell the fascinating and often infuriating story of American culinary culture. Readers will learn of the role bananas played in the Iran-Contra scandal, how Sigmund Freud's nephew decided Carmen Miranda would wear fruit on her head, and how Puritans built an empire on pineapples. American food history is rife with crackpots, do-gooders, con men, and scientists all trying to build a better America-while some were getting rich in the process. Loaded with full-color images, Ward pulls recipes and images from her vast collection of cookbooks and a wide swath of historical advertisements to show the influence of corporations on our food trends. Though easy to mock, once you learn the true history, you will never look at Jell-O the same way again! American Advertising Cookbooks, How Corporations Taught Us To Love Bananas, Spam, and Jell-O features full-color images and essays uncovering the origins of popular foods.


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American Advertising Cookbooks: How Corporations Taught Us to Love Spam, Bananas, and Jell-O is a deeply researched and entertaining survey of twentieth century American food. Connecting cultural, social, and geopolitical aspects, author Christina Ward (Preservation: The Art & Science of Canning , Fermentation, and Dehydration, Process 2017) uses her expertise to tell American Advertising Cookbooks: How Corporations Taught Us to Love Spam, Bananas, and Jell-O is a deeply researched and entertaining survey of twentieth century American food. Connecting cultural, social, and geopolitical aspects, author Christina Ward (Preservation: The Art & Science of Canning , Fermentation, and Dehydration, Process 2017) uses her expertise to tell the fascinating and often infuriating story of American culinary culture. Readers will learn of the role bananas played in the Iran-Contra scandal, how Sigmund Freud's nephew decided Carmen Miranda would wear fruit on her head, and how Puritans built an empire on pineapples. American food history is rife with crackpots, do-gooders, con men, and scientists all trying to build a better America-while some were getting rich in the process. Loaded with full-color images, Ward pulls recipes and images from her vast collection of cookbooks and a wide swath of historical advertisements to show the influence of corporations on our food trends. Though easy to mock, once you learn the true history, you will never look at Jell-O the same way again! American Advertising Cookbooks, How Corporations Taught Us To Love Bananas, Spam, and Jell-O features full-color images and essays uncovering the origins of popular foods.

30 review for American Advertising Cookbooks: How Corporations Taught Us to Love Bananas, Spam, and Jell-O

  1. 4 out of 5

    ALLEN

    This perky -- though occasionally ghastly -- new book of food is a cross between a 20th Century revisionist history of the USA as seen through its food-manufacturer cookbooks and the bone-chilling pictorial confections of James Lileks: GALLERY OF REGRETTABLE FOOD and such. On the one hand, then, those booklets put out by General Foods or Campbell's or Crisco or whoever that urged over-immersion in the sponsors' productions and sold for a dime or dollar at checkout stand or by mail, and the kind This perky -- though occasionally ghastly -- new book of food is a cross between a 20th Century revisionist history of the USA as seen through its food-manufacturer cookbooks and the bone-chilling pictorial confections of James Lileks: GALLERY OF REGRETTABLE FOOD and such. On the one hand, then, those booklets put out by General Foods or Campbell's or Crisco or whoever that urged over-immersion in the sponsors' productions and sold for a dime or dollar at checkout stand or by mail, and the kind of mid-Century photography that took dubious culinary creations and made them even worse with inferior color printing. Author Christina Ward lies squarely in that advertiser-sponsored tradition of recipes, as she grew up in a household largely ignorant of traditional cooking and boasted a mother who was frequently trying out new recipes designed to sell the sponsors' foods, rather than delight or nourish. The author has a great eye for culinary creepies in this lavishly illustrated volume: various loaves containing creamed tuna, or mystery meat, wrapped in lard-laden crusts and baked too slowly, too long. Molded salads -- the craze of which I cannot understand except that some of the more towering confections seemed to announce to the world that they came from a family with a big refrigerator -- were heavily promoted by Jell-O or Knox and even the subject of a 1982 spread in tony Bon Appetit magazine. And they could hold ANYTHING: not just fruit or shredded vegetables, but meat! Apparently the people who placed ads in women's magazines assumed that their audience would accept any "innovation" that was sponsored by a big corporation, hence the photo of a baby (not a toddler, a Baby) suckling contentedly on a bottle of Seven-Up. When Swanson (chicken) and Reynolds (aluminum foil) teamed up, I can only ask "Why"? (Even if it was endorsed by McCall's magazine.) In an industry so devoted to stereotyping the parade of cute kids, feckless mothers and tired dads, you'd expect ads featuring racial and ethnic minorities to be equally hopeless, and you'd be right. "I'se sure got a good job now!" exults a Jemima-type over her new enamel sink from General Electric, 1935. "Did you ever see a fat Chinese?" snarks a 1967 ad from the American Rice Council. Not to mention the Frito Bandito. While there are salutary chapters about the predations of United Fruit (later: Chiquita Banana) and Big Sugar, this is mainly a book about cooking no-nos: "Egg and Cheese and Spaghetti and Rice" pie? A chocolate cake with sauerkraut in it?? People actually ate this stuff??? Well, Big Food hoped we did. To see so many of these weird, indigestion-inducing ads and recipes together is to wish this colorful book, fun as it is, came with its own packet of Dramamine tablets. Go ahead, buy this book, read it, enjoy it, and roll your eyes at will.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Why do we eat the foods we eat? Someone told us to eat them. Or--"sold us" to eat them. Christian Ward's American Advertising Cookbooks tells the story of how corporations and big business influenced Americans to buy their products, creating an American cuisine that included Jello, Spam, and 7-Up in baby's milk. I am fascinated by the history of food. So the idea of a book about how Big Business inspired American housewives to buy products caught my attention. The book includes a history of what Why do we eat the foods we eat? Someone told us to eat them. Or--"sold us" to eat them. Christian Ward's American Advertising Cookbooks tells the story of how corporations and big business influenced Americans to buy their products, creating an American cuisine that included Jello, Spam, and 7-Up in baby's milk. I am fascinated by the history of food. So the idea of a book about how Big Business inspired American housewives to buy products caught my attention. The book includes a history of what we ate and why and photos from Ward's advertising cookbook collection. There were some pretty awful recipes. Like Ham Banana Rolls. Chiquita Banana says it's good, so it must be. Seeing the advertisements and recipes is great fun. But the book is more than a trip down memory lane to laugh at the ill-advised foods we once ate. The essays on the history of food and cooking in America include some stories that may shock readers. Political intervention in foreign governments, environmental degradation, racism, manipulation to encourage buying things that are bad for us--This is the history of American capitalism in American kitchens. Did you know that Daniel Dole went to Honolulu in 1841 with a missionary group, then with his son Sanford helped to depose Queen Liliuokalani--and then placed Sanford became President of the Republic of Hawaii? Then, the family built their pineapple plantations. And no, pineapples are not native to Hawaii. You have perhaps heard about Banana Republics. Bananas were brought to South America to feed slaves. North Americans first ate them at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. People went ape over bananas. Banana plantations were planted all over Central American, forcing out native species. Over time, United Fruit became the banana monopoly, powerful enough to interfere in Bananaland politics. The book is divided into Why Are We Eating This and Empire Building in the Free World? Chapter topics include: Bananas & Pineapples: The food of paupers and kings Chiquita Banana vs. the World: Banana republics, pineapple princes, and the Boston families who started it all Class, race, and cultural signifiers: How cookbooks reinforce and change our way of thinking Rationing & Fish Sticks- Food as both tool and weapon Invasion of the Home Economists: The uneasy relationship between food science and marketing Photo chapters cover all the major 'food groups': jello, pineapple, bananas, mystery meats, and sweets. Ward discusses the roots of American cooking and the first American cookbook, and how immigrants were taught to make American foods as part of their assimilation. Readers learn how the government got involved to clean up the food business and how Home Economics became a scientific part of education and entertaining with food became an art form. American Advertising Cookbooks would be a great gift with wide appeal. It was Boomer nostalgia for me. My son and friends loved the idea of this book and can't wait to get a hold of it. I received a free ebook from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jocelyn

    I have a longstanding and deep affection for advertising cookbooks. It goes way back - it begins with my mom's copy of the _The General Foods Kitchen Cookbook_, which enticed me with its chockablock Kodachrome food photography. I didn't know what kitsch was then, but there was something about those over-the-top colorful images that captured my imagination and made me want to be able to create in the kitchen too. My work was in the food industry until I became disabled, and as a marketer, accumul I have a longstanding and deep affection for advertising cookbooks. It goes way back - it begins with my mom's copy of the _The General Foods Kitchen Cookbook_, which enticed me with its chockablock Kodachrome food photography. I didn't know what kitsch was then, but there was something about those over-the-top colorful images that captured my imagination and made me want to be able to create in the kitchen too. My work was in the food industry until I became disabled, and as a marketer, accumulating cookbooks, vintage, modern, advertising and otherwise, was a defensible vocational activity. Thus I have a significant collection of branded cookbooks, ranging from the early 1900s to the turn of the century. But like Christina Ward, my heart is really with the midcentury variety - the optimistic postwar explosion of creativity appeals to me the most. Now, I followed The Gallery of Regrettable Food starting at its inception, and while I appreciated James Lileks bringing those images to a wider audience, the horror and contempt it relies on is really not my speed. There *are* what I think are terrible ideas in these sorts of books, and I've posted from them some horrors that I would never stomach myself - but food is intensely personal, and while I know that the recipes in these books were created in order to sell more of whatever product their company made, deep down I admire what phalanxes of home economists turned out, given freewheeling license to publish what they thought the public would enjoy. Advertising is letters a society writes to itself about what it actually values, and I've always thought these sorts of cookbooks have something interesting to say about America in the 20th century. But because they're ephemeral and compromised by being marketing messages in a food landscape that has increasingly - and gratifyingly - valued forthright authenticity, I never thought anyone else would agree. So it was a delight to find that Christina Ward finds the same sort of value in them I do, and that she uses them as I do - to examine the contributions of a lot of anonymous, generally white women in a then-new field, and *also* to use them to look critically at our national food history - whom and what it championed, celebrated, exploited, erased and ignored. I *wish* I had written this book. Ward has done it better than I could have, and delivered, in small bites, a potted U.S. food history that will be accessible even to people who are not cookbook obsessives. Yes, you get some Jell-O and banana horrors along the way - but the real value is in her incisive look at what each kind of advertising cookbook really says, hiding behind its lurid photography.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    A fascinating journey through the history of corporate foods and how they were foisted onto the American public. I never knew the backstory to those weird retro recipes - I just thought they were kitschy fun, but now they've taken on a more sinister tone. A must read for anyone interested in retro cooking, mid-century America, or the history of food. Highly recommended! I received a digital ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss+.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Orsolya

    It may come as a shock (or perhaps not so much); that many of the ‘foods’ we consume sold in the marketplace were not demanded by consumers but rather, pushed by the agenda of food producers and brands creating a fake growth curve. Using advertising and clever marketing appeal; these companies make certain foods and food stuffs a part of the common dining lexicon. Christina Ward explores this connection between advertising and frequently consumed foods in today’s modern world in, “American Adver It may come as a shock (or perhaps not so much); that many of the ‘foods’ we consume sold in the marketplace were not demanded by consumers but rather, pushed by the agenda of food producers and brands creating a fake growth curve. Using advertising and clever marketing appeal; these companies make certain foods and food stuffs a part of the common dining lexicon. Christina Ward explores this connection between advertising and frequently consumed foods in today’s modern world in, “American Advertising Cookbooks: How Corporations Taught Us to Love Spam, Bananas, and Jell-O”. Even though the title of Ward’s piece contains the term, ‘cookbooks’; this is a sort of misnomer as “American Advertising Cookbooks” is more of a look at advertising and sponsorships overall instead of simply exploring branded cookbooks. In “American Advertising Cookbooks”, Ward presents an all-color, glossy-paged coffee table book surveying how corporations duped consumers into basically changing their habits and food preferences. The pages of “American Advertising Cookbooks” begins with an overview look at the evolution of cooking/commercial eating habits and the formulate transformation companies had by way of advertising in the 1920s-70s. Although this breakdown introduces some valid facts and solid information; Ward’s presentation is definitely that: an introduction on the topic and therefore not best suited for those readers seeking an in-depth look. “American Advertising Cookbooks” is best described as a supplement piece to the topic. The value lays in the easy-to-understand jargon and approach undertaken by Ward which includes a general audience target without dummying down the material. “American Advertising Cookbooks” continues with sectional breakdowns of the advertising/food industries based on the pushes made on consumers by food manufacturers, economic/class/racial distributions, political events, factory conditions, etc. Each section contains text lightly explaining the connection illuminating consumerism and encourages readers to question personal eating habits and food stuff purchases. The spotlight truly shines on the secretive nature of companies hoping to influence the cultural way of life. The various subject sections of “American Advertising Cookbooks” feature vivid and colorful illustrations/photos of advertisements, cookbooks, and pamphlets representing was was/is basically: food propaganda. The photos include captions with explanations, dates, company names, and further details. Even though some of these images feel repetitive throughout; the images add texture to “American Advertising Cookbooks” while also educating readers. Ward’s “American Advertising Cookbooks” lacks a certain engaging “oomph” in its energy which slackens the pace. Perhaps this is because the piece is best meant for occasional browsing rather than back-to-back reading. Nevertheless, this absence diminishes the strength of “American Advertising Cookbooks”. The second half (concluding chapters) of “American Advertising Cookbooks” focuses on the topics of bananas (the political support and push of the product) and sugar (the marketing of sugar as a health food) ending the text on a memorable note that summarily wraps up the entire content. Ward clearly conducted ample research on the subject and eschewed simply collecting images and artwork conducive to the material. Ward follows with a bibliography of source material encouraging further reading and research on an individual level. “American Advertising Cookbooks” is a light, beautiful visual representation down memory lane of food manufacturers and political alliances influencing the American wallet and dinner table. Ward is direct in her approach with added whimsy and therefore “American Advertising Cookbooks” is recommended for all readers interested in the evolution of the advertising landscape of food stuffs or those readers simply enjoying nostalgia.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    If you look at Pinterest today, you’ll see plenty of recipes pins sponsored by Pillsbury, Campbell’s Soup or some other food company. Cookbooks (back then and pins now) are a way to introduce new ways to use their products. That much you know, it’s been going on forever. I remember the jello molds free at the grocery store that came free with a purchase and included a recipe book. This book is a fantastic history book of not only America's love of food both processed and fresh but the real story If you look at Pinterest today, you’ll see plenty of recipes pins sponsored by Pillsbury, Campbell’s Soup or some other food company. Cookbooks (back then and pins now) are a way to introduce new ways to use their products. That much you know, it’s been going on forever. I remember the jello molds free at the grocery store that came free with a purchase and included a recipe book. This book is a fantastic history book of not only America's love of food both processed and fresh but the real story about how the recipes affected sales and the American diet. You also get the history of both bananas and pineapples which was intriguing and slightly nefarious. I do a unit of Kitchen Chemistry with my high school kids, and this book will fit right into that.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rogue Reader

    Similar to others in the expose genre - timeline, photos, recipe brochures, advertising, explanatory text. What was extra in Ward's work is the banana - the where, why and how of a fruit that I hadn't sufficiently appreciated before. Now I must find a single ingredient work and get the full banana on the subject.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Desiree

    Christina Ward has created a beautiful and brilliant book about corporatist consumption. Every time I am around her I learn something new- this book connects seemingly disparate puzzle pieces in an accessible and compelling narrative. Highly recommended!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Read it. The best parts were the excerpts from the cookbooks. I was expecting it to be mostly that, but it had a lot of commentary on how evil and manipulative food companies were, some interesting, some too screed-y.

  10. 4 out of 5

    KathleenB

    Love the premise and the pictures. Actual writing is kind of thin, with little discussion of detail or depth of background of ideas.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kristy

    I love the vintage illustrations in this book a lot!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Liz L

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jared Evanoski

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sarra

  15. 5 out of 5

    Liam

  16. 4 out of 5

    Feral House

  17. 4 out of 5

    Patrica Liebe

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jodi Stapler

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jodi Stapler

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gregory

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alice Palumbo

  22. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Cheresnick

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tara

  24. 5 out of 5

    Isa

  25. 5 out of 5

    Christina Ward

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jed Sorokin-Altmann

  27. 4 out of 5

    Anne Broda

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jenifer

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

  30. 4 out of 5

    Marisa

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