Food Is Love: Advertising and Gender Roles in Modern America

Overview

Modern advertising has changed dramatically since the early twentieth century, but when it comes to food, Katherine Parkin writes, the message has remained consistent. Advertisers have historically promoted food in distinctly gendered terms, returning repeatedly to themes that associated shopping and cooking with women. Foremost among them was that, regardless of the actual work involved, women should serve food to demonstrate love for their families. In identifying shopping and cooking as an expression of love, ...

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Overview

Modern advertising has changed dramatically since the early twentieth century, but when it comes to food, Katherine Parkin writes, the message has remained consistent. Advertisers have historically promoted food in distinctly gendered terms, returning repeatedly to themes that associated shopping and cooking with women. Foremost among them was that, regardless of the actual work involved, women should serve food to demonstrate love for their families. In identifying shopping and cooking as an expression of love, ads helped to both establish and reinforce the belief that kitchen work was women's work, even as women's participation in the labor force dramatically increased. Alternately flattering her skills as a homemaker and preying on her insecurities, advertisers suggested that using their products would give a woman irresistible sexual allure, a happy marriage, and healthy children. Ads also promised that by buying and making the right foods, a woman could help her family achieve social status, maintain its racial or ethnic identity, and assimilate into the American mainstream.

Advertisers clung tenaciously to this paradigm throughout great upheavals in the patterns of American work, diet, and gender roles. To discover why, Food Is Love draws on thousands of ads that appeared in the most popular magazines of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, including the Ladies' Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Ebony, and the Saturday Evening Post. The book also cites the records of one of the nation's preeminent advertising firms, as well as the motivational research advertisers utilized to reach their customers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A delectable history of food advertising since the late nineteenth century. . . A very readable book filled with significant information about advertising, gender roles, and consumerism."—American Historical Review

"Parkin delivers an engaging look at how food advertisements from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have both helped define and played up to the stereotypical gender roles prevalent in American culture. . . . An enlightening study of gender roles in advertising."—Library Journal

"A singularly revealing insight into this consumptive and surprisingly constant dimension of the American female and cultural psyche."—-Midwest Book Review

"Food Is Love is well-written, comprehensive, and compelling, and makes a significant contribution to the literature on advertising history and women's studies."—Jennifer Scanlon, Bowdoin College

"The engagingly titled Food Is Love is also an engaging read. Its comprehensiveness, its clear organization, and the authority it commands through its evidence make this book a valuable resource for scholars, and it should be widely adopted in classes in advertising history, women's history, and American cultural history."—Journal of American History

Library Journal
Parkin (history, Monmouth Univ.) delivers an engaging look at how food advertisements from the 20th and 21st centuries have both helped define and played up to the stereotypical gender roles prevalent in American culture. She notes that while traditionally men have been seen as the decision makers and heads of their households, food advertisers have historically marketed their products to women; for they, not men, shopped for and cooked the family meals. Even today, she writes, women are still the primary focus of food advertising campaigns. Looking at countless ads in popular magazines (e.g., Ladies' Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Ebony) from 1900 to the present, Parkin explores the manipulative effects such ads have had and still have on women, e.g., by insinuating that buying and preparing the right food will help women achieve the appropriate weight, keep their husbands happy, and raise healthy children. She also highlights the many ads that employed sexual innuendo and that even questioned women's patriotism in efforts to entice women to buy their products. This is an enlightening study of gender roles in advertising, recommended for all larger libraries.-Nicole Mitchell, Birmingham, AL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812219920
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/17/2007
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Katherine J. Parkin teaches history at Monmouth University.
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Table of Contents

Introduction
1. Advertisers and Their Paradigm: Women as Consumers
2. Love, Fear, and Freedom: Selling Traditional Gender Roles
3. Women's Power to Make Us: Cooking Up a Family's Identity
4. Authority and Entitlement: Men in Food Advertising
5. Health, Beauty, and Sexuality: A Woman's Responsibility
6. A Mother's Love: Children and Food Advertising
Epilogue

Periodical and Archival Sources and Abbreviations
Notes
Index
Acknowledgments

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