Contemporary Cuisine in North America – The 50’s

Written by Anne Berry on . Posted in food

Contemporary Cuisine in North America - The 50's

There were several cultural, historical and technological factors that influenced cuisine in the 1950s. The United States, Canada and other western countries were entering a period of prosperity following the immediate post-World War II period. Technology had made huge advances and changed the way people in North America lived. They had cars, modern household appliances and homes in the suburbs of major cities.

Culturally, it was a period of social conformity and the nuclear family; there was one bread winner, a homemaker and 3.5 children.  Technological innovations and broad industrialization resulted in changes in the food processing and distribution systems within North America.

Food sold in large scale supermarkets was highly processed. Vegetables were available primarily in cans or frozen packages. Meat was butchered in large food factories and then shipped to supermarkets.  The food processing company Swanson pioneered the frozen, pre-cooked, TV dinner which went from the freezer to the oven.

Breads, cereals and rice were highly processed on a large scale and then “enriched” to ensure that consumers had the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of nutrients.  Complex food distribution systems delivered pre-packaged food to large supermarket chains.

When eating out, North Americans primarily dined in French restaurants.  If people wanted to eat quickly, they went to informal fast food restaurants that served hamburgers and French fries, such as McDonald’s which had outlets across the U.S. and Canada.

Read More – The Sixties & Seventies

(Sources: Linda Civitello (2011) Cuisine & Culture: A History of Food & People, Wiley, New Jersey; Wikipedia)

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Anne Berry

Anne Berry

Currently living in Canada, Anne is a former teacher and policy analyst. She has travelled extensively in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and North America where she developed a passion for gastronomy and cuisine. Anne is currently working on the Cordon Bleu Master of Gastronomic Tourism.

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