Cooking Through the Decades: Authentic Recipes From the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s
Sapelo, a barrier island about the size of Manhattan, has about 50 residents, primarily descendants of African slaves who settled here after slavery was outlawed. In Bailey's family, the tiny red legume, with its thin, firm shell; creamy interior; and sweet, buttery flavor was just another staple she and her family planted, harvested, and cooked. This red pea, which originated in Africa and is the original ingredient in the region's quintessential rice-and-beans dish Hoppin' John, is just one of the many heritage crops from the African continent receiving new attention from farmers, chefs, scientists, and food historians.
Growing numbers of researchers, many of them African-American, are bringing to light the uncredited ways slaves and their descendants have shaped how Americans eat. Red peas are a tangible connection to her own African heritage, Bailey says, and one reason why she has started to grow the crop commercially. That meant the slaves could plant for themselves," says Bailey, who has recruited other local farmers to plant the crop this spring.
At the top of that list is Atlanta chef Linton Hopkins, who has concocted several ways to serve her peas at his acclaimed southern-upscale Restaurant Eugene , including in his version of Hoppin' John. But Bailey says her favorite way to eat the peas is in a traditional dish with stewed meat and okra, another plant that originated in Africa.
American Breakfast Through the Decades
They had it in stews and stuff—very, very similar to what we eat here," she says. Culinary historian and author Jessica Harris says food traditions hold symbols and meaning that serve as a historical roadmap. For decades she has used an image of okra on her business cards as a symbol of her family's African roots and her own connection to the continent's cuisine. Processing has its benefits, such as converting perishable food into more storable food. The explosion of processed foods paralleled the growth of large food chain stores and the modernization of kitchens with ranges and refrigerators.
Many people at the beginning of the twenty-first century remembered the much-loved recipes of their mothers and grandmothers, which often included store bought crackers, canned soup casseroles, molded Jell-O salads, and Bisquick baked breads and desserts. The recipes, known as product-driven recipes because the recipes were offered by companies to encourage use of their products, were easy and inexpensive.
Ritz Crackers While soda crackers were handed out in breadlines and soup kitchens, and unemployed Wall Street bankers sold apples on the streets of New York City, Nabisco Company introduced a round, richly buttery cracker called the Ritz in Nabisco hoped people would associate Ritz crackers with the grand Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Manhattan and feel lavish as they ate it.
In a box of Ritz crackers sold for 19 cents, and unlike the Ritz-Carlton, most people could afford it. It became the world's best selling cracker. The Ritz also became the main ingredient of Ritz mock apple pie. The pie, made with 36 Ritz crackers, tasted remarkably like apple pie, and its recipe became the most requested Nabisco recipe of all time. Canned Soups In the s many varieties of canned soups, from companies such as Campbell's and Heinz, were available in stores. Campbell's boasted 21 varieties of canned soup, and by Heinz listed 46 flavors. These soups offered a shortcut to the traditionally long cooking process of simmering ingredients all day in a soup pot.
Companies produced charts for mixing two soups together to create more flavors. For example, on President Roosevelt's inauguration day, a favorite dish served was mongole soup, a combination of pea soup and tomato soup. Homemakers could make an easy mongole soup by mixing together canned pea soup with canned tomato soup. Canned soups also helped cooks use every scrap of leftovers. Noodle or rice soups, poured over leftover meats, served as inexpensive sauces and created a second and even a third meal.
Casseroles got a tremendous boost in s Depression cooking when Campbell's introduced its Cream of Mushroom soup in No longer did cream sauces have to be prepared from ingredients that cooks did not always have. The Cream of Mushroom soup was used in a multitude of meat and vegetable dishes. Jell-O During the s popular comedian Jack Benny advertised the six delicious flavors of Jell-O—orange, cherry, lemon, lime, strawberry, and raspberry—on his radio shows. During the Depression Jell-O served as an affordable yet fancy food.
A patent for a "gelatin dessert" was issued as early as , but the Jell-O name originated in The Postum Cereal Company, known at the beginning of the twenty-first century as General Foods, purchased the rights to Jell-O in The booklet's recipes instruct a user on how to whip Jell-O, set various fruit within it, or layer it. The inexpensive product delighted Americans, who have at various times referred to it as "shivering Liz," "nervous pudding," and "shimmy treat.
Coca-Cola salad contained gelatin, sugar, water, lemon juice, Coca-Cola, and mixed, diced fruits. A low-cost yet seemingly luxurious dessert also evolved from Jell-O and Knox unflavored gelatin—chiffon pies. Chiffon pies were light and fluffy, containing gelatin, cream, and egg whites beaten stiff. Favorite s chiffon pies were lemon, pumpkin, chocolate, and pineapple. Bisquick In on a late night train bound for San Francisco , a Depression-era bread product was discovered. Carl Smith, a weary General Mills traveling salesman, boarded a train in the evening and headed for a diner.
He expected only a cold plate for supper, but to his amazement the chef served him a dinner that included hot fresh biscuits. The clever chef explained to Smith that he premixed the dry ingredients with shortening and kept it in the icebox until needed. Smith reported his finding to General Mills and, within the year, Bisquick appeared, along with a booklet entitled Delicious Bisquick Creations. More than , cases of the mix sold over a few months. Bisquick fans were so loyal to the product that no competitors survived, and the product remained popular into the twenty-first century.
As part of President Roosevelt's New Deal push to create employment for all, between and the Federal Writers' Project had various job openings. Among the positions advertised were interviewers, writers, editors, researchers, geologists, and map draftsmen. Responsibilities included collecting information on all aspects of American community life—history, settlement, business, art, architecture, social and ethnic studies, folklore, and food.
The material was to be edited and published in a series of books, the American Guide Books. By the mids, mass-produced processed foods were prevalent, and homemakers, especially in urban areas, began to spend less time preparing food from scratch. The government believed that many of America's food customs would be lost if not recorded soon.
America Eats was intended to document the U. It would trace the history of U. Vast quantities of information were accumulated. The Montana Writers' Project collection alone included , items that required 57 linear feet of storage space. By the early s, however, workers saw their reports for America Eats filed away, as the government turned its attention to World War II, and the project was never fully realized. Fortunately, project supervisors, editors, and writers had taken time to sift through material, organize the findings, and write manuscripts.
Yet the completed volume, America Eats, was never published, and manuscripts languished for years in university archives and personal homes. Manuscripts from the Midwest and far West surfaced in the late s and s. Author and editor of the midwest manuscript, Nelson Algren , held a silent auction of his apartment contents in March Between and , the character of U. One trend was the shift of the population from farms to cities.
America's farm dwellers declined and, by , 56 percent of the country's population lived in cities. Factors contributing to this trend included continued low market prices for farm products through the s that caused many farmers to go out of business, farms getting larger because of the greater use of mechanized farm equipment and thus squeezing out the smaller farms, and more jobs available in the ever-expanding industries.
At the same time as rural farmers were moving to the industrial cities another urban trend was occurring. Many of the more prosperous city residents moved to the outskirts of town—to the suburbs. This shift was made possible by the increased prevalence of automobiles which made longer commutes more feasible. This allowed many to escape the increasingly dense inner cities, filled with factory workers, where crime and health conditions were problems. There in the outskirts they had a home with a yard big enough for a garden. By contrast large numbers of the urban working class rented their living spaces in the city.
They had no access to plots of land for gardens, so they often had a more difficult time obtaining vegetables and fruits to eat that were easily available to those with gardens. If inner city workers lost their jobs and therefore their wages, they and their families would find themselves in a desperate situation. This is exactly what happened to millions during the Great Depression.
Food use practices during World War I — , although no one realized it at the time, were good preparation for the hard times of the Great Depression that was to follow ten years later. With these discoveries the general public's interest in nutrition rose. Problems of supplying sufficient quantities of nutritious food appeared on a massive scale during World War I.
It became necessary to feed American soldiers overseas, to feed people at home, and to supply food to European countries whose own agricultural production was disrupted by the war.
- The Saga Hoard Volume 1 (Temple Libary Collection - The Saga Hoard).
- Australia's cuisine culture: a history of our food - Australian Geographic;
- American Breakfast Through the Decades | Extra Crispy.
- Cookies Through the Decades | 18 Recipes from the 1930s to 2010s.
- Race, Women of Color, and the State University System: Critical Reflections.
- Capote: A Biography (Books Into Film);
- Public Relations: The Profession and the Practice, 4th edition.
As the government did later in World War II, Hoover encouraged Americans to eat perishables so that such staples as wheat and beef could be sent overseas. President Woodrow Wilson served — set up the Food Administration, which was headed by an efficient mining engineer and future U. Hoover was directed to increase food production and cut waste. Hoover was very successful—some would say too successful.
Increases in food production by farmers during World War I and continuing high levels of production after the war led to large farming surpluses in s and s. Those surpluses, however, were not effectively distributed to people in need. The Food Administration also educated the public about vitamins, proteins, and carbohydrates, as well as about the importance of fruits and vegetables and the best means of canning, preserving, and drying foods.
The use of oatmeal, potatoes, and beans, among other foods, were promoted to the public. Hoover's wife, Lou Henry, also participated in the education efforts. She offered a recipe for war pudding, which was included in Conservation Recipes, compiled by the Mobilized Women's Organizations of Berkeley, California, in Herbert Hoover also urged the use of "victory bread," which had a greater whole wheat content but with less butter and sugar per person.
People also planted "liberty gardens" in vacant lots or in yards. Overall, Americans learned to use more whole wheat bread, less sugar, and more fresh vegetables that they grew themselves. These would be valuable lessons for surviving the Great Depression. Chain stores are two or more retail sell to the public stores that have the same ownership and sell the same goods. A specific chain may be only in a certain city or region, or may be national or international. Chain stores may be grocery stores, department stores, hotels, or drugstores.
In the Piggly Wiggly chain started offering low prices and selfservice. Chain stores often favored national brands of food, shipped from distant locations, rather than local farmers' products. Because of this, chain stores contributed to the growing business of production, processing, and sale of foods and drinks with labels recognized nationwide. The advantages chain stores had over local small retailers were several. These advantages became much more evident during the Great Depression when people needed to get the most out of their money. Chain stores had central organizations that purchase the goods for sale.
Supplying a whole chain rather than a single store, the purchasers could buy on much more favorable terms since much larger quantities were being obtained. Chain stores had lower operating expenses since costs were shared throughout the chain. Advertising was largely handled by the central organization, therefore less expensive for individual stores. Because of financial support from the complete chain, chain stores could operate on smaller profits. For all these reasons, prices of goods at chain stores would normally be less than at independent local stores. Perhaps most importantly to consumers, chain stores offered a vast variety of foods including fresh meats, canned and baked goods, and the new frozen foods.
Consumers found the chain stores so much more attractive to purchase goods at in the s that small independent retailers began going out of business. Some European nations acted to restrict chains in their countries so as to protect local store owners. Women found careers as home economists in large food businesses, developing and introducing prepared ready-to-eat products. Entrepreneurs introduced new products for marketing. Sets of recipes were often created for the new products.
The mass-produced products were cheap and easy to use. They made the chore of cooking easier for homemakers. New technology in the homemakers' kitchens was also changing the way food was prepared. Home kitchens became smaller and more efficient. During the s gas stoves replaced the difficult, labor-intensive wood and coal stoves that had to be stoked, prodded, and frequently attended to.
The new stove provided clean, easy heat, quick and accurate temperature control, and freedom from excessive kitchen warmth. The electric stove became prevalent in the s. Iceboxes, which had upgraded the flavor and freshness of the American meal, began to be replaced by refrigerators. The earliest electric refrigerator, which did not include freezer compartments, appeared around Refrigeration improvements advanced quickly from there.
As homes electrified through the s, the number of refrigerators in kitchens increased. The number of refrigerators in homes rose from twenty thousand in to 3. Home freezers did not appear until the late s, and were not in wide use until the s. The two-temperature refrigerator, which included the built-in freezer, came on the market in Small electric appliances such as toasters, percolators, grills, and waffle irons also began to appear in homes in the s and s.
Technological advances for the kitchen continued through the s despite the economic hard times. The modernization of the kitchen did not reach the poorest Americans or those in rural areas without electricity. Not being able to afford the new technological advances, they maintained cooking traditions of earlier decades and could not stimulate the economy. For the middle class and for affluent Americans in cities, suburban areas, and electrified rural homes, the more dependable methods of food preparation that came with this modernization allowed them to utilize the mass-marketed foods.
This utilization created a market for new products introduced in the s. At the same time, purchase of the appliances by more and more households increased the market for new food innovations, thus supporting expansion of the food industry. Sale of these new food and appliance products eventually helped in the nation's recovery from the Great Depression by creating much-needed jobs. The economic troubles of the Great Depression made it difficult for many people to make ends meet.
Lack of money often meant lack of food, and the poor became desperate. A few scattered food riots took place across the country in Some of those who took food said that they would pay for it when they could. Others simply said that they refused to starve when food was available on store shelves. This desperation did not spawn mass riots and revolution, however, due to the "American creed. By an American creed was ingrained in American culture. That creed was: Success was open to all that were willing to work for it. Those who failed deserved to fail and had done so through their own fault.
This creed persisted at most levels of society following the stock market crash and after President Roosevelt had introduced his New Deal programs of relief and recovery. Consequently, many of the lower class felt they were to blame for their economic misfortune and were ashamed to accept government assistance.
The strong individualism and striking financial successes of the booming s economy had largely fixed this creed in the American mind. Being on relief carried with it a great deal of shame. Relief could take various forms of assistance, most commonly in the form of money, food, shelter, and other necessities for the poor and needy. Relief was more commonly known in later decades as welfare or public assistance. Those who lost their jobs felt forced to accept charity to feed themselves and their families. FSRC officials reported that, while people were grateful, they did not want to be on relief but had no other choice.
Accepting relief was, to them, similar to begging. What people wanted were jobs. They loath it. The percentage of those who call up and announce that they have jobs and won't want any more food orders is truly impressive. The U. President Hoover served —33 , served at the time of the stock market crash and in the early years of the economic troubles.
He never doubted that the Depression was a psychological, not an economic, problem that would pass in time. At this time no government-backed social safety net existed for people who fell on hard times. You took care of you and yours, and the government left you to your own devices. Hoover felt that charity organizations, not government, should care for the hungry and poor. He strongly urged Americans to contribute to these organizations. He believed that the unfortunate should be cared for within their local communities and that the federal government should let the economic problems run their course without interference.
The change in government attitude came in When Franklin D. Roosevelt took office, millions of people were out of work and hungry. President Roosevelt and Harry L. Hopkins, head of the new Federal Emergency Relief Agency, believed that a more aggressive, organized approach had to be immediately pursued, and they did just that. Americans, including the poor, had remarkable affection for President Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor. Many of the poor believed that the Roosevelts would bring about the necessary changes for them.
During his presidential campaign, Franklin Roosevelt promised to help the poor, and the people believed he would do so. Through the many social and work programs that Roosevelt established in his New Deal packages, changes were made. Even as dissatisfaction arose with existing relief programs, Americans still wrote to President and Mrs. Roosevelt for help. The poor saw the president and his wife as individuals who truly cared about their plight and were trying to make it better, so they were willing to wait and trust in the country's leadership.
As the difficult years of the Depression continued, however, many people in the working class found pessimism replacing American optimism. When you were very hungry and had no hope for the future, it was difficult to be optimistic. Fundamental changes in American thinking began to surface.
Many Americans were opposed to government relief programs, believing it would make "loafers" out of individuals, which would be a detriment to the country and to taxpayers. Thus, according to this opinion, people in need of relief should improve their own situation rather than accept handouts. Over the course of the Great Depression, however, neighbors shared and cared for each other. The self-centered individualism of the s gave way to compassion and humanitarianism in the s. People contributed to private relief organizations.
Families and friends helped other families and friends who were out of work. Food was stretched with extenders, and dishes such as casseroles graced the meal tables. Those that had less were often invited to Sunday dinner. This was an uncommon period in U. One was certainly the level of community spirit demonstrated, even between strangers. Many of those who still had a means of support knew they could be the next out of a job and in need.
The faces of the most desperate Americans seen on the streets of their local communities left permanent marks on those who did have enough to eat. The effects of the Depression were so great that, for the rest of their lives, the average American who "made do" during the s remained thrifty. Decades after the Depression, grandparents would save twist ties—just in case—and eat every bite of food on his or her plate at meals. Most of the rich remained quite comfortable throughout the Depression. Some of the well-to-do were sensitive to the problems of the hungry, such as was Daniel Willard, president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
Harry A. Mackey, the mayor of Philadelphia, commented on wealthy men and women's failure to contribute significantly to the poor quoted in Abraham Epstein , "Do the Rich Give to Charity? Up to the present a great proportion of the relief funds has been contributed by the working class. It is a lamentable fact that many of our wealthy men and women have failed to respond, while many others who are rich have sent contributions for insignificant sums.
I say to you it is the poor man who has saved the situation up to this time. The most arrogant of the wealthy believed that the poor deserved their fate. The upper class , like the middle class, believed that a person's misfortune was strictly the result of a flaw in the person's character, not because of social forces beyond their control such as government policies and bad business management. Many wealthy men and women failed to contribute or sent insignificant sums to charities. They refused. Although some wealthy people did contribute significantly to relief efforts, most did not.
Most wealthy people were. There were some wealthy, however, who did support New Deal programs and believed President Roosevelt's intentions were indeed designed to save private enterprise, not undermine it. Averell Harriman of Union Pacific Railroad served as advisors to Roosevelt to assist in relief and recovery programs.
Years of American Food: to | Leite's Culinaria
Otherwise, a primary contribution of the wealthy was keeping millions of workers employed building skyscrapers and manufacturing the new refrigerators and other products coming on the market. Despite the escalating unemployment rate and growth of breadlines on city streets, malnourishment was not considered a major health concern of the early s.
Heart disease, cancer, pneumonia, and infectious diseases were the leading causes of death. Though many were hungry, starvation was not a reality. Deaths from hunger and thirst was less than one per , of the total population. Diets of ordinary people improved with the new processing and preparation technologies, such as canning and refrigeration, made available through the s. Vegetables were consumed in greater abundance, and improved preservation and storage allowed for consumption longer through the year. In addition, federal food relief programs introduced foods to the South that were foreign to residents there, such as whole-wheat flour, coconuts, and grapefruit juice, as opposed to the customary pork and white flour.
Overall, however, the novelty of canned foods led to a decrease in eating fresh foods that offered greater nutrition. Meat consumption during the Depression dropped from to pounds per person per year. Dried beans took their place, with the average American eating almost ten pounds a year, up from six pounds a year in Huge shipments of food shipped to Europe led to shortages and hoarding in America. Industry could not produce enough of certain products to satisfy the demand both overseas and at home. Each household would be given a certain number of coupons by the government for certain products, such as gas.
Sugar rationing came early and caused significant adjustments in homemakers' baking. War cakes again were full of raisins and other dried fruit just, as in Depression days. Beef was scarce by the spring of Just as in Depression times, rural people hunted game, and others depended on chickens, cheese, and eggs. By butter and canned goods were also rationed. The establishment of a large government system for supplying food to the most needy during the Depression paved the way for yet another government system for rationing certain food items and other commodities.
For many who had to cut back considerably during the Depression, war rationing seemed much less of a burden than it might have otherwise. In General Mills published a Betty Crocker booklet, Your Share, which showed women, many of whom had been teenagers during the Great Depression, how to prepare appetizing, healthy meals with foods that were available. The booklet included charts to use corn syrup or honey in place of sugar for cakes.
Homemakers turned to the familiar casseroles and food extenders—macaroni, potatoes, beans, rice, and dried peas—of the previous decade. It was the first women's service program to be broadcast nationally. Unbeknownst to her listeners, Betty Crocker was not an actual woman, but simply a name created by advertiser Sam Gale for Washburn Crosby, a milling company that merged with General Mills in The need for Betty began when, in October , Washburn Crosby's advertising department ran a jigsaw puzzle advertisement in a national magazine offering pincushions resembling a miniature sack of flour to anyone who could put the pieces together.
This was a promotional ad campaign for Washburn Crosby's flour, Gold Medal flour. The company received an overwhelming number of answers. Accompanying the puzzle answers were requests for answers to food questions: "Why doesn't my dough rise? Agnes White and Janette Kelley, two of Crosby's home economists, wrote the responses, but Gale signed the letters. Soon they all agreed a woman should be telling women how to shape their rolls and buns, and Betty Crocker was born.
- History of Polish food and cuisine — Old Polish traditions;
- How to Create a 1930s Dinner Party Menu.
The name "Betty" was chosen because it was a nice, friendly name. Crocker was chosen in honor of a retired director of the company, William G. A piece of paper circulated in the office for women of the company to sign the name. The easiest to read was chosen as Betty Crocker's signature. This fictional fantasy quickly became a spokesperson for Crosby's Gold Medal flour. Women wrote letters to Betty and sent her gifts. In the early s, Betty Crocker published a meal planning booklet that advised women on how to maintain an adequate diet on Depression-era wages and relief foods.
Marjorie Child Husted served as Betty's radio voice for many years. Not until did Betty have a face to show the public. Neysa McMein, an artist-illustrator, created the face as a composite of her perception of women who worked in test kitchens. From onward, the public saw portraits of Betty on cookbooks, magazines, and General Mills' products. Millions tuned into Betty's cooking school radio program during the Depression and World War II for her advice on low cost menus that would keep their families well fed. When Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook appeared in , it became an instant bestseller.
Betty's face underwent six major changes over the years, including one in The change was a computerized composite of 76 American women of varying ages and ethnic backgrounds, intended to give Betty Crocker widespread appeal. Betty aged well, as her face retained its year-old youthful appearance of the first portrait in The many revisions and additions continued to sell well at the beginning of the twenty-first century, when the book's contents also became available on a floppy computer disk. Betty Crocker's Cookbook is acknowledged as America's top selling cookbook, with an estimated 55 million copies sold by the mids.
Located in backyards, vacant lots, or adjacent to war plants, 20 million "victory gardens" grew 40 percent of the country's vegetables. In , all across America, gardeners bought Burpee's victory garden packets, which contained fifteen vegetables for one dollar, the Suburban Garden package of 25 varieties also for one dollar, and the Country Garden package of thirty types for three dollars.
Home canning of vegetables was prevalent in approximately three-fourths of American homes, and families produced an average of jars a year. With the social dislocations of the war, homemakers in temporary military housing or wives working for the war effort turned to processed and ready-to-eat foods. Many of these foods had been developed in the s during the Great Depression.
Large food companies gained strength as they received massive orders from the armed forces. Hormel's Spam, first made popular in the s, was the soldier's staple. The processed food industry continued to grow throughout the twentieth century. By the later s, cooking habits changed. There existed greater demand for convenience in food preparation and consumption. For example, demand for fresh fruits declined in favor of the less nutritious canned preserved fruit.
Also, soft drinks and pizza became popular. Easier to prepare packaged foods became common as did as fast food restaurant chains. New appliances included food processors, blenders, and in the s, microwave ovens. The agricultural community of farmers consisted of less than 3 percent of the population as of , down from 25 percent in and 23 percent in Most people did not grow their own foods, and home gardening was more of a hobby than a supplemental and necessary food source.
They instead bought their food in large chain food stores. Frozen and canned foods dominated the shelves, and fast and easy cooking for many meant popping a frozen dinner into the microwave to heat and eat. People did still cook fresh meals, but much less attention was paid to utilizing the most of every food source than it was on putting together a meal with the most ease and convenience.
As the twenty-first century began, the simple cooking of the s persisted among few families. Depression-era recipes and cookbooks gained popularity by the end of the twentieth century, nostalgically harkening back to a different period of food preparation. One development in the modern kitchen that was far beyond the imaginations of Depression families was the use of genetically modified foods.
Though still in the experimental stages in early , some farmers were planting and growing genetically modified crops. Designed to repel threatening insects that could affect plant health and to grow hardier crops, genetically modified foods were not without controversy. Environmental groups in particular renewed promotion of organic foods, so called because they were grown naturally and without the use of pesticides.
In the more than five decades since the Great Depression, Americans have gone from integrating new developments like Birds Eye frozen foods into their meals to having many of those same new Depression food items serve as a natural and daily part of their lives. Foods that were once scarce or utilized to the last scrap were being examined for genetically modified "improvements. Kennedy served — in Kennedy directed the Agriculture Department to establish an experimental program based on the original Food Stamp Plan.
This experiment later became a full-fledged program under the Food Stamp Act in By Congress had established uniform standards of eligibility for food stamps. During the later twentieth century, various changes to regulations and available funding tended to differ under each new administration. The program helped 7. Participating individuals used food stamp coupons just as they would cash at most grocery stores.
Considered a transitional measure for individuals moving from welfare to work, the food stamp program, which first got its start due to the hard times of the Depression, is a cornerstone of federal food assistance programs. During the Great Depression, many consumers became convinced that food, drug, and cosmetic businesses were practicing price gouging—charging too much money for products—and were engaged in consumer fraud.
Consumer fraud usually took the form of companies claiming their products could perform better or benefit the consumer more than they actually could. The product was basically misrepresented in advertising. The existing Pure Food and Drug Act of proved ineffective since it did not regulate drug makers' performance claims unless fraud could be proven.
Concern also arose as a host of new processed foods came on the market. Their quality and standard of safety was virtually uncontrolled, and the health impact for consumers was unknown. The American Medical Association AMA and state and federal drug officials all attempted to strengthen food and drug laws and to expose wrongdoing and misleading claims.
In Rexford G. Tugwell, assistant secretary of agriculture and advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt, led the drafting of a new food and drug bill. The bill greatly expanded government control over the drug-and food-processing industry. Drug claims contrary to general medical opinion were made illegal, and medical ingredients were now required to be clearly disclosed.
Food labels were also required to list all ingredients. The government could establish quality and fill of container standards, and government officials could. The food, cosmetic, and drug industries adamantly opposed the bill and successfully lobbied against it. Senator Royal Copeland of New York, whose main interest in Congress was food and drug issues, became a major supporter of the bill and continued to fight for its passage.
Then, in , people, including many children, died from taking a drug called sulfanilamide, which a small pharmaceutical plant in Bristol, Tennessee, produced. A toxic chemical, diethylene glycol, had been added without the company first checking it for human toxicity. An angered public called for congressional action. The new act greatly expanded consumer protection and increased the minimal penalties of violation set out in the act.
The oldest written sources
The new provisions extended government oversight and standards control to cosmetics and medical devices, such as the modern day pacemaker, required new drugs to be shown safe before marketing, and eliminated the requirement to prove intent to defraud in drug mislabeling cases. The law authorized factory inspections and allowed food standards of identity, quality, and fill of containers to be set.
For example, a product labeled "fruit jam" must contain 45 parts fruit and 55 parts sugar or sweetener; there may not be excessive pits in canned cherries; and minimum weights of solid food must remain after drainable liquid is poured off of canned foods. Royal Samuel Copeland — Copeland is in large part responsible for the enactment of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in , which changed the way the government treated food and other materials, ensuring greater safety for the public. Copeland received a medical degree from the University of Michigan in In Copeland was appointed commissioner of health for the city.
Although previously a Republican, Copeland, running as a Democrat, won a race for the U. He was reelected in Although initially he supported various New Deal programs, he became disillusioned with Franklin Roosevelt. His real interest in the Senate was food and drug legislation.
Copeland supported the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act from the time Rex Tugwell wrote it in until its passage in Under the leadership of Copeland, the measure moved through Congress in , and President Roosevelt signed it into law on June 24, Many upper-class families had the time to enjoy three lavish meals a day, and breakfast was no exception. Notable breakthroughs: In the Kellogg Company debuts their Toasted Corn Flakes, and the electric toaster is invented in Soon after the US entered the Great War in , the government urged citizens to monitor their food intake in an effort to conserve staple food items, such as meat and wheat, to ship to US troops and their allies.
The classic Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Farmer includes this sample breakfast menu: Fried hominy, maple syrup, raised biscuits, sliced peaches, and coffee. Home refrigeration changed the game in the s; for those with access to money and electricity, safe food storage meant increased creativity in the kitchen. Codfish cakes, anyone? In this post-food-rationing era, people once again welcomed cushy breakfast spreads. This is the era of Gatsby, after all. Cocktails, fruit or otherwise, abound. As does bacon. Bacon all the time. Rather, it marked the arrival of what would become an integral philosophy driving the modern American lifestyle: finding cheaper alternatives.
This aligned nicely with the introduction of readymade food, which required only one purchase in the place of several. Another war, another round of food rationing.