Better Than Homemade: Amazing Foods That Changed the Way We Eat

Overview

Americans pride themselves in their knack for innovation, and nowhere has America’s can-do attitude been more apparent than at the supermarket.
 
Need a cheese that is virtually indestructible? Want to find a way to stretch a pound of hamburger into a hearty main course for a family of five? Hard pressed for time to throw together a home-cooked meal? In the early decades of the twentieth century, and from the world wars to the cold wars, ...
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Overview

Americans pride themselves in their knack for innovation, and nowhere has America’s can-do attitude been more apparent than at the supermarket.
 
Need a cheese that is virtually indestructible? Want to find a way to stretch a pound of hamburger into a hearty main course for a family of five? Hard pressed for time to throw together a home-cooked meal? In the early decades of the twentieth century, and from the world wars to the cold wars, food producers and everyday dreamers met these challenges with the same ingenuity and resourcefulness that launched the country to the moon and back, with groundbreaking packaging, new technologies, and improvements on Mother Nature.
 
Better Than Homemade is food biographer Carolyn Wyman’s freewheeling and entertaining cultural history of the innovative packaged foods that changed the way we eat. With dozens of archival ads and original product shots of Hamburger Helper, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Minute Rice, Coffee-mate, Green Giant Canned Peas, Lipton Cup-a-Soup, Pillsbury Crescent Rolls—and many more revolutionary products—Better Than Homemade highlights the fascinating stories behind the food inventions; the histories behind the brands and icons that have become synonymous with them; the jingles that have made them such a large part of our popular culture; and the recipes that have tutored generations of homemakers and comfort food master chefs.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In an effort that will perhaps be best enjoyed by baby boomers who have yet to overdose on the Food Network, Wyman (Spam: A Biography; Jell-O: A Biography) unwraps 46 very familiar products to reveal their histories, revel in their mysteries and devour their marketing ploys. Anyone still intrigued by Hamburger Helper, Twinkies, Wonder Bread and Jiffy Pop will enjoy the efforts at wordplay ("Velveeta, All-American Hunk") and the concise narratives (the saga of Minute Rice in a two-minute read). Trivia connoisseurs will be happy to learn it takes more than 90 minutes a day to wash the walls and floors at the Marshmallow Fluff factory and that "among Hispanics with Caribbean roots, Clamato (and most other shellfish-based foods) is considered an aphrodisiac." Odder than the inclusion of Beer Nuts in a chapter entitled "Triumphs of Technology" is the fact that Instant Mashed Potatoes and Minute Rice are delegated to the more humble "Homemaker Helpers" section. Most interesting is the chapter on "Marketing Marvels," which explores Jell-O flavors that are no longer available, the voice behind the classic SpaghettiOs jingle and the birth of the Jolly Green Giant. The book's graphics sparkle and should induce cravings for Mrs. Paul's Fish Sticks and a nice Hawaiian Punch. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781931686426
  • Publisher: Quirk Publishing
  • Publication date: 8/28/2004
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 1,123,615
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Carolyn Wyman is the author of Spam: A Biography and Jell-O: A Biography. Her nationally syndicated column, “Supermarket Sampler,” appears in more than one hundred newspapers nationwide. Her writing has appeared in the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Los Angeles Times. She writes, heats, and eats in Philadelphia.
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Read an Excerpt

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction
Homemaker Helpers: Foods that revolutionized the kitchen—freeing Mom from the role of kitchen slave
     Birds Eye Frozen Vegetables
     Minute Rice
     On-Cor Family-Size Entrees
     Hamburger Helper
     Kraft Macaroni & Cheese
     Potato Buds Instant Mashed Potatoes
     Marshmallow Fluff
     Shake ’n Bake
     Kool-Aid
     Dinty Moore Beef Stew
Powerful Packages: Foods with innovative product delivery systems
     Pillsbury Poppin’ Fresh Dough
     Easy Cheese Aerosol (a.k.a. Snack Mate)
     Jiffy Pop Popcorn
     Pringles Potato Chips
     I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! Spray
     Reddi-wip
     PAM
     Lipton Cup-a-Soup
Triumphs of Technology: Foods that improve on Mother Nature
     Coffee-mate Non-Dairy Creamer
     Cool Whip
     Sweet ’N Low
     Tang
     Sanka
     Wonder Bread
     Minute Maid Orange Juice
     Bac-Os
     Beer Nuts
     Philadelphia Cream Cheese
     Carnation Instant Breakfast
Indestructibles and Recyclables: Foods for the long haul—plus recycled food-factory scraps
     Carnation Instant Nonfat Dry Milk
     Twinkies
     SPAM
     Velveeta
     Slim Jim
     Cheez Whiz
     Mrs.Paul’s Fish Sticks
     Ore-Ida Tater Tots
Marketing Marvels: Advertising has made these must-eats
     Jell-O
     Parkay
     Clamato
     Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts
     SpaghettiOs
     Little Debbie Snack Cakes
     Green Giant Canned Peas
     Swanson TV Dinners
     Hawaiian Punch
Permissions and Trademarks
Index
Acknowledgments
Table of Equivalents

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