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Fashion is often seen as the defining quality of a generation. But what many people don’t realize is that the dinner table can give as many clues over a period of time as clothes. Sweet and savory foods made with gelatin were as characteristic of the 1960s as bells, go-go boots and low-rise dresses. Low-fat diets and farm-to-table foods were as much of the ’70s as peasant smocks, surplus military clothing and frayed jeans. In the 1980s, aesthetically obsessed Americans sipped Diet Coke and bought Lean Cuisine from the grocery store shelves, all while wearing form-fitting Spandex aerobics gear, power suits and eye-catching jumpsuits. Food and fashion really go hand in hand.

Unlike the cyclical nature of fashion, which repeats itself over and over again, food innovations tend to build on each other. We probably wouldn’t have the Big Mac if the Whopper hadn’t come out over 10 years ago. Food fortification, which began in the 1920s, continued to advance through the late 1990s, making each generation of Americans a little healthier. And food preservation and safety has gone from a relatively simple state to quick freezing, controlled atmosphere packaging, irradiation and even the banning of certain food colorings – proof of the growth over time. decades in both food technology and our interest in what we eat.

To learn more about the greatest moments in food history each year between 1921 and 2020, Stacker consulted various media (The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, Smithsonian Magazine, Business Insider, etc. ), – specific publications (Eater, Kitchn, Taste of Home, The Daily Meal), and media focusing on history (History, Biography). We also reviewed notable studies, important food and agricultural policies, and other major changes documented by academic researchers and government agencies. Finally, we read the stories of major food companies like Kraft Food, Pepperidge Farm, McDonald’s, Mars, and The Coca-Cola Company to learn more about their contributions over the past century.

Grab a snack, then read on to learn about the history of food every year since 1921.

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Rozella J. Cook