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Brief History of Food Mass Production: a Homage to the Twinkie

Brief History of Food Mass Production: a Homage to the Twinkie
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An article has been flying around my friends about Hostess filing for bankruptcy. The cause was not low sales; they are actually fairly decent. It is due to the high cost of wages and ingredients (Grandoni 2011). Hostess products usually contain some sort of animal product, so I haven’t eaten one in over 30 years (I’m a vegetarian). Nonetheless, Hostess is a huge part of our culture and childhoods, so it saddened my heart. The whole business got me thinking about mass production of food and modern food history.

Small History in a Nutshell (mostly in the United States of America) (all from Mintz 2011)

  • Post-1492 was a big era for food’s multinational trade
    • Although the spice trade prompted Columbus’ sailing, international trade between the eastern and western hemisphere began
    • Tomatoes, potatoes, corn, yams, and many other American foods traveled to Europe, Africa and Asia
    • Pigs, sheep, and cattle were shipped to the Americas
    • Sugar, coffee and chocolate were planted and grown for multinational consumer trade, the first industry of that kind, in the New World
  • Early 19th century: America’s food was mainly influenced by the United Kingdom
  • Late 19th century: Food became mass produced with the Industrial Age
    • Even with the steady increase of immigrants, numerous people tried to Americanize them, in food and other habits
    • Processed cereal, touted as health food at the start, became an American breakfast
    • First federal food health laws regarding additives and meat inspections were instituted at this time
  • 1920s: Freezing offered a whole new world of food technology
  •          -Luncheon counters, cafeterias, and fast-food restaurants emerged with freezing technology
  • World War II: soldiers overseas were introduced to a variety of other ethnic foods, accelerating diversity of diet
    • Post-war expansion further diversified American diets
    • fresh produce was offered year-round
  • After the 1970s, the already increased alteration of eating habits accelerated
That’s it in a nutshell. If you want to read more, click the links in the references below. Mintz (2011) is really interesting.

References

Grandoni, Dino

2012   Twinkies Go Bankrupt. The Atlantic Wire (posted January 10, 2012). Electronic document, http://www.theatlanticwire.com/business/2012/01/twinkies-go-bankrupt/47203/, accessed January 10, 2012.

Mintz, Stephen

2011   Food in America. Digital History. Electronic document, http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/food.cfm, accessed January 10, 2012.

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Brief History of Food Mass Production: a Homage to the Twinkie by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.


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