Date of Award

4-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Department

History

Abstract

The 1950s bring to mind a series of icons or symbols of post-war optimism fueled by the era's expanding consumer economy and the monumental growth of the middle class. History textbooks often include images of bright-colored rocket-inspired cars, ranch-style suburban houses, and space-age television sets playing "Leave it to Beaver" to illustrate the consumer mentality of post-war America. However, the culinary symbols of this decade, such as the ubiquitous casserole, are more apt to be regarded with disgust or comical dismissal than with nostalgia. The 1950s has been considered a low point in American cuisine-an era that many chefs tend to dismiss or ignore entirely. The hit movie Julie and Julia on the life of chef Julia Child who rose to celebrity status in the early 1960s repeats this now-familiar story. The movie tells Julia Child's life story through the experiences of her present-day fan, Julie Powell, who quips that her heroine "changed everything. Before her it was frozen food and can openers and marshmallows."1 The dismissive and slightly amused tone in Julie's voice typifies the view of 1950s middle American cuisine as bland and tacky.

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