The EMD Guide to Food from the 1950s: Introduction & Kitchens of the Future


Illustration via x-ray delta one

Food is usually categorized geographically, or culturally; cuisines are associated with nations or peoples. Here at Eat Me Daily we are dedicated to bringing you new and interesting ways of looking at what you eat, and thus we present our chronological guide to American gastronomy. Over the next several months, we'll look at the foods that rocked America, decade by decade. Up first: The 1950s

The 1950s may not be the most obvious place to begin a series on dining history; the next decade may seem to have had much more influence on American cuisine as we know it today. However, to know where you've arrived is to know where you came from, and thus we begin this series with the 50s largely as a point of comparison for the gastronomic advances that follow. While mid-century food is not necessarily known for being gourmet, it was arguably a time when the many American food staples were introduced. Fast food became common, with chains such as McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken spreading across the country. Foods of convenience, such as TV dinners and instant drink mixes, became prevalent as products aimed at the American housewife sought to streamline house work.

It was also a time when many of the founders of American gastronomic culture got their star. Julia Child, along with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, began their L'école des trois gourmandes in 1951, and Craig Claiborne joined The New York Times as food editor in 1957. Many of James Beard's volumes on barbecue were released in the 50s, including The Complete Book of Barbecue and Rotisserie Cooking (1954; buy it) and The Complete Book of Outdoor Cookery (1955).

The seeds of a culinary revolution were planted in the 1950s, and over the next few weeks we'll explore various facets of that decade. Below, we delve into the past to see how they envisioned our present with Kitchens of the Future.

Kitchens of the Future

The 50s were a time of great prosperity for America, and it definitely showed in how they cooked. After World War II, new technologies were developed rapidly, and people began to look excitedly to what the future had to hold. "House of the Future" shorts began to pop up everywhere, to promote nascent technologies like plastics, or companies like General Motors. Looking back on what the 50s thought was in store is alternately funny and kinda sad. If we can invent refrigerators with TVs in them, why can't we have cakes that make themselves? Surely the technology exists.

Design for Dreaming

First up are two awesome Kitchen of the Future videos for the price of one. The first minute is a clip from General Motors' promotional movie "Design for Dreaming" featuring dancing, a cake that makes itself and other great futuristic stuff. The second part is a promotional video featuring a futuristic kitchen made of plastics and, instead of a stove, there's a microwave!

British Kitchen of the Future

This next one is a Kitchen of the Future from the UK. Even the future can't please grandma.

Czech Kitchen of the Future

Part of the Czech Kitchen of the Future consists of the same set that they used in "Design For Dreaming," yet is somehow depressing.

Electric Company Stove Commercial

This commercial for a futuristic electric stove just makes me wonder what the hell people used to cook food before this. Did they just set a tree on fire in the middle of their living room and roast a pig on a spit over the flame? I'm sure I just gave some hipster a very bad idea.

Tex Avery's House of the Future Spoof

Remembers those Tex Avery "___ of the Future" cartoons that used to play on Cartoon Network during the day? Those were my favorite cartoons, and this House of the Future short is my favorite one of all time. The kitchen part starts around 4:15, but you should watch the whole thing, because it's full of awesomeness and weird, blatant sexism. Who doesn't hate their mothers-in-law, amiright??

Introduction Sources

—Paula Forbes (Introduction) & Rachael Oehring (Kitchens of the Future)

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Comment Feed

  1. Moira

    I love this feature. I hope to see a lot more of this, especially the recipes (I miss Retro Recipes so much!)

  2. Where are my food pills?!

  3. Chef Pete

    I will now require my flying car please.

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