From the Factory to the Table: Advertising Cookbooks and the Changing Face of American Domestic Cookery 1880-1941

1. Evolving Technology and Manufacture

Technological developments afforded those who built and destroyed the world in the early parts of the 20th century amazing tools for forging the world. But in many ways it was the more domestic innovations that fundamentally changed the way that people lived their lives. Technology fundamentally changed how, what, and when the American cooked. The advent of the gas stove brought better temperature control to cooking and an immediacy that was impossible with coal stoves (See object II.1a). Home refrigeration allowed for less spoilage. Industrial refrigeration meanwhile revolutionized how and what could be eaten in all parts of the country, allowing access to entirely new types of food or food that was out of season (See object II.1b).

The incorporation of technology into the household was only one aspect of the impact that science and technology had on domestic life. The 1920s and 30s saw a huge rise in the application of science to understanding human nutrition. The dietetic movement caused a huge shift in how people understood and made informed decisions on what they were eating. Information about vitamins and their health benefits certainly became more available, but the source of this information could very well be corporations.

Eat for Health with Pleasure - p. 30-31

Factory Buidlings and Laboratories

Indeed, this was a trend that companies could market to, touting the freshness and vitamin content of their products. Laboratories, including those in a factory, could be used as a symbol of purity and heathiness. By extension the factory itself, containing spotless "laboratories," (like that depicted above) could be invoked as signs of trust, progress, and assured healthfulness (See object III.4). Further, corporations leaned on the reputations of authors and credentialed scientists and doctors, who might lend recipes or merely a statement of support to products in such cookbooks.

Eat for Health with Pleasure - p. 27 Detail

The Science of Advertising