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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Helfgott, Leonard Michael, 1937-

Second Advisor

Leonard, Kevin Allen, 1964-

Third Advisor

Stewart, Mart A.


Why is the American culinary tradition as conflicted as it is? How is it that processed foods, foreign cuisine and home cooking can all be lauded as American ways of eating? This paper highlights the conflict between top-down government and corporate prescriptions on how we should eat and the reality of what was consumed by using American World Fairs as snapshots of particular points in time. Utilizing guidebooks, cookbooks, magazine articles and advertisements, this paper aims to show that these trends, rather than suddenly appearing, were already beginning to develop in part due to ideas presented at these fairs intentionally or otherwise. First covering the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, it highlights the growing rift between home cooks and secular and commercial reformers so that by the 1939 World's Fair, a visible schism between commercial ideas on how to eat and the ideas of gourmands and regular cooks had developed. At the same time, it highlights how neither message was negated by the counterarguments, resulting in a society that eats both hot dogs and lauds local, cooked cuisine. In other words, rather than change national paradigms, the new ideas presented at the fairs simply built on preexisting ones while giving reinforcement to others on why the old ones should continue to exist.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Food--Exhibitions--Social aspects; Cooking, American--Exhibitions--Social aspects; International cooking--Exhibitions--Social aspects; Food industry and trade--United States--Exhibitions--History; Exhibitions--Social aspects; World's Columbian Exposition (1893 : Chicago, Ill.)--Food; Century of Progress International Exposition (1933-1934 : Chicago, Ill.)--Food; New York World's Fair (1939-1940)--Food

Geographic Coverage

United States




masters theses




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